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Bermudian hot on the heels of Richard Branson

Environmental authority: Denaye Hinds, who is based in Miami, audits the OBM International’s Green Globe Certification programme

Denaye Hinds frequently visits exclusive Caribbean resorts but relaxing is the last thing on her mind.

She’s there to check out their work.

The Caribbean Journal just named the 30-year-old Bermudian the third most influential person in the Caribbean in terms of environmental sustainability.

She was praised for her work with OBM International’s Green Globe Certification programme, a tourism seal of approval scheme.

Sir Richard Branson and Aruba hotelier Ewald Biemans took the number one and two spots.

“Being named one of the top three was a great honour,” said Ms Hinds who works in Miami, Florida as OBMI’s director of sustainability. “Any time I am listed with anyone as top tier as Richard Branson is always interesting, and a lot of fun.”

Her job involves visiting some of the most elite hotel resorts and tourist excursions in the Caribbean to test their true environmental commitment. She quizzes everyone from the guy who stocks the fridges, to the waiters, the housekeeping staff and even the guests, about everything from the use of plastic straws (a no-no), to the use of reusable hand towels, to the facility’s waste management system.

“I ask everyone in every level of hospitality in every department,” she said. “I also look at what hotels are doing in their communities. I have seen some resorts doing some amazing outreach efforts in their communities.”

She tries to be as incognito as possible.

“I prefer if the staff don’t know who I am,” she said, “but sometimes they are informed ahead of time. I definitely don’t want the guests to know. I often interview them to find out how the hotel’s environmental message is coming across.”

She has even given Rosewood Tucker’s Point Green Globe Certification.

“At the moment, they are the only hotel in Bermuda with the certification,” she said. “I would like to see more hotels in Bermuda come on board.”

She doesn’t just do hotels, but also travel excursions. She said one of the most unusual things she has certified was probably a submarine company.

“They had several excursions at different depths,” she said. “I had to go down with them to each level. I also had to look at whether their engines and propellers were damaging the environment and what their set-up was on land. That was fun.”

She said one of the biggest challenges faced by hotels and excursions is waste management.

“A lack of waste management resources tends to be a huge issue for island nations,” she said. “There is always difficulty disposing of waste in a sustainable matter. That is one of the things I find you have to be very creative with.”

Ms Hinds has been working for OBMI since 2011. She was attracted to the company because of its Bermuda ties. Its partner company is located on Gorham Road.

“Miami is interesting and fun,” she said. “I can’t complain. It is a melting pot of different diversities.”

From Miami it is a short hop to hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico.

This week, Ms Hinds was back in Bermuda to work for a short time. She does this routinely.

“I like to see what opportunities are happening back in Bermuda,” she said. “I also like to visit my family.”

Her career in engineering started by accident when she forgot to fill out a careers day form at the Berkeley Institute. “I procrastinated, like most high school students,” she said. “By the time I got around to it there was only the Tynes Bay Incinerator left.”

When she visited she was fascinated by the engineering involved and she eventually decided to study civil engineering.

She has a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and a master’s degree in construction management from Florida International University. “I always knew I wanted to be more focused on the islands and the Caribbean because Bermuda is an island nation. We are not so much in the Caribbean, but we do have the same struggles as other Islands.”

She started her career at Works and Engineering.

“That gave me a good basis, because I understand the government frame work,” she said. “It has definitely helped me in my career now, because I did a lot with some of the ministers of tourism and different policies [and now I have] that skill set on how government works on an island basis.”

She continued: “The biggest thing I have done to help the environment is being honest and open about it and really translating it down to common sense,” she said.

“A lot of people tend to make things a bit more complicated than what they really are. I feel as though my personality lends itself to making things understandable. People can relate to me as a young person who is doing what she is doing, and who still finds time to enjoy life.”

• Visit www.obmi.com/day-in-the-life/denaye-hinds