Environmental Technology alumnus Cameron D. Bain is an experienced leader in sustainability and environmental performance, process and technical safety and risk and crisis management. He currently puts these skills to good use at sustainable infrastructure development organisation, PIDG, but grew his expertise during a 20-year career in the oil and gas industry. Keep reading to learn more about Cameron’s unusual career path!

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Cameron D. Bain is the Health, Safety, Environment and Social (HSES) Director at the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), a position he’s held since 2018. PIDG is an innovative infrastructure development and finance organisation which delivers pioneering infrastructure in the poorest and most fragile countries.

Solar panels with a sunset backgroundAt PIDG, Cameron is actively involved in setting policy and standards on labour and working conditions, health and safety, human rights, climate change, environmental protection and community management. Through his work, he visits many fascinating countries around the globe, meeting and working alongside recognised global leaders in sustainable development. 

But Cameron’s journey to the environmental sector may surprise you. 

Born in Aberdeen, the oil industry’s influence on Cameron came early. His parents ran a barber shop in the city which had a continuous procession of local and international oil workers come through the door. Cameron’s family saw first-hand the fast pace of change and new opportunities that the oil industry brought to the Granite City, and steered Cameron towards a career in the oil and gas sector.

After completing a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from a local university he joined a North Sea oil company. 

His tenure there ignited a spark in Cameron for him to do more to protect the environment. Environmental disasters, such as the 1993 MV Braer oil tanker spill, were a staple of the evening news. His love for the outdoors, shaped by visits to the mountains, rivers and moors of Royal Deeside, compelled Cameron to change his career course. 

Headshot of Cameron Bain Cameron graduated from Edinburgh Napier with a MSc in Environmental Technology in 1996. His degree had an immediate impact. He went on several class trips to see early concept sustainable projects in action, gaining his first environmental position with an Edinburgh-based environmental consultant through the University. 

Scotland’s capital city was home to Cameron for a few years after graduating. Working as an environmental consultant, he carried out UK-based environmental impact assessments and contaminated and land remediation projects. 

But he then made the surprising decision to return to the industry he had once renounced, taking up a position within the Oil and Gas Environmental Team at Shell.

Cameron immediately flew to Nigeria to implement environmental management systems across Shell’s assets. It was gratifying to know that he would be making a difference to the company’s environmental impact, even if it felt a little strange to be back in the oil and gas sector. Nigeria was his base on-and-off for almost five years. 

He remained in the industry for another 15 years, living and working in many countries such as Libya, Mauritania, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya. He was in-demand thanks to his Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) skills and background in engineering. But the pull of the sustainable sector eventually became too great and Cameron left oil and gas to move on to greener pastures. 

PIDG recruited Cameron in 2018 to be their first Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Social Performance. PIDG operates at the frontier of infrastructure development in low-income countries and fragile states to combat poverty. They provide leadership, development capability, funding and finance solutions across the project cycle – creating investment-ready, bankable infrastructure opportunities.

Since its creation in early 2000s, PIDG has supported 157 infrastructure projects to financial close across Africa, Asia and South East Asia. These projects are expected to provide 209 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by six governments (the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany) and the International Finance Corporate (IFC).

Working in an industry that eradicates poverty and changes lives is immensely satisfying to Cameron. His role at PIDG means he works with some truly inspirational people, such as Rachel Kyte - a leading advocate for sustainable development and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All – who chairs one of Cameron’s committees. 

A diverse career background is common in the sustainability sector and one of the benefits to working in the industry is being able to acquire transferable skills. Cameron believes his vast international experience – launched thanks to his Edinburgh Napier degree – was critical to his career path. He urges anyone thinking of following in his footsteps to grab overseas opportunities with both hands.

A final word from Cameron D. Bain

“I’m proud and honoured to be part of the PIDG family and without Edinburgh Napier my career would have been very different and unquestionably less fulfilling.

Solar panel farm, Uganda “The sustainable development and renewable energy sector is fast growing. Even in the post-Covid world I am only seeing an increase in funding for projects. As such the job opportunities follow.

“Many organisations I work alongside, such as Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and traditional finance institutions (FIs), are continuing to hire sustainability experts and ESG leaders.

“Keep applying and keep looking out for internships that are regularly offered by the DFIs and FIs on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms.”

The Green Triangle

At Edinburgh Napier, we're constantly working towards greener initiatives that help save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
  • We have set ourselves a net zero carbon target by 2030. 
  • The University has spent almost £1m on energy-saving projects over the past ten years. Over their lifetime, the projects are expected to save £3.2m and 16,521.44t CO2e by reducing electricity and gas use.
  • We also have solar panels at Sighthill and Merchiston, which generated 28,398 kWH in 2017/18 - enough to boil 283,980 kettles!
  • Since 2006/07, we have reduced our carbon emissions by 54% - equivalent to more than 1,000 return flights from Edinburgh to New York!
  • To reduce our environmental impact, we encourage greener ways to travel to campus. The University has gained almost £250,000 in grants to support active travel over the past ten years, including funding from Cycling Scotland, SEStran and Sustrans.
To find out more, visit myNapier.
Published October 2020