Neelima Mishra, (PFM 2011-13), Founder, Ceiba Green Solutions

Batch -2011-13
Current Location – Odisha
Role -Founder

Neelima Mishra, is the founder of Ceiba Green Solutions, a waste management start-up based out of Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Ceiba Green focuses on implementation of solid waste management in housing societies/religious places/institutes, etc. and waste education through workshops for corporates and schools, and sustainable events such as marathons/college fests. Ceiba Green also works on the promotion of single-use plastic-free products.

Neelima recently completed her M.Phil in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom as a Chevening Scholar. Prior to that she has worked in various roles and capacities with the Government of Odisha and J-PAL South Asia on monitoring/evaluation and scaling up of evidence-based programs.


Q. How has been your journey from IIFM to this role?

A. I joined IIFM after 4 years of software work experience at a multinational company in Pune. However, the urge to dabble with natural resources and pursue higher education led me to shift from the cubicles to the jungles and IIFM provided that window of opportunity. The journey from IIFM thereon has been enriching and ever-evolving. I will always be grateful that IIFM provided that springboard to venture into areas of my interest, be it sustainable development, policy and advocacy and now entrepreneurship with waste management.

PFM 2011-13 during IIFM orientation
The girls of the 2011- 13 batch

Q. What were some of the key milestones/learning in this journey that you would like to share with us?

A. I started my career as a Young Professional (YP) with Odisha Livelihoods Mission and worked on rural livelihoods with women farmers on agriculture/NTFP through the MKSP program, I organized fairs/exhibitions for rural producer groups. We were the first batch of YPs to be campus-recruited from IIFM by OLM. Overall, it was a great experience understanding the various aspects of the rural economy be it financial inclusion, capacity building, institution building, and formation of producer groups. The opportunity was unique and apart from interacting with experts from World Bank, working with bureaucrats, I understood the functioning of government operations, policies, and procedures.

Getting a solid understanding of the grassroots, I then joined Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab, South Asia on the scaling up of an evidence-based program for ultra-poor women in Odisha. My past outreach with government functionaries helped me advocate the program and facilitate the uptake with the Government of Odisha, thus building prospective partner relations. After almost 2 years, I moved on to pursue an Outcome and Impact Assessment Specialist role with the Finance Department, Government of Odisha working on outcome budgets, providing policy inputs, and best practices to the Government of Odisha in modifying scheme implementation/guidelines.

It was during this time (2019) I participated in the Climate Force Arctic Expedition, organized by the 2041 Foundation. Through my experiences with crowdfunding and raising, I learnt that the urge to do social good greatly helps in developing and nurturing personal and professional relationships as people feel connected to the sense of purpose.

With EU Commission President – Ursula von der Leyen 
Gardening in the student garden (DarGar) at Darwin College, University of Cambridge, UK

Q. What is the most satisfying part of your current role?

A. When I registered my venture in 2019, I was managing the start-up along with a full-time job as a Consultant with the Government of Odisha. With COVID disruptions and other personal setbacks, I could not give my time, heart and soul. Now that I have returned from the UK, I am fresh with ideas and have a fair idea of what I want to achieve. My thesis at Cambridge also was on “Municipal Solid Waste Management in Odisha State, India : Resident Views, Concerns, and Initiatives” and hence want to take this ahead.

The most satisfying part of this role is that it allows me to be flexible. I get to meet many people and talk about what I am doing. Those discussions help me reshape and toy around with more ideas. I also conduct a lot of workshops for corporates, housing societies, elderly people and the positive feedback encourages me all the more. After nearly 10 years of a job, this feels different but a step in the right direction too.

Media Cover on creative work done by Neelima on waste management
Session with Corporate Employees on Waste Management
Addressing School Children on waste management

Q. Has your learning at IIFM helped in shaping how you approach your professional roles?

A. Of course, without any doubt, be it the soft skills or the technical skills required for a job.   For eg: I still remember and apply the lessons of Professor Rathore on MS Office (Word/PowerPoint) while writing research papers, presentations and my dissertation. I also have a lot to thank CVRS Sir for his lessons on quantitative techniques. I am also extremely thankful to Professor C.P. Kala for his inputs on fine tuning my summer internship report and for being one of my referees for the scholarship. Apart from the above Professor Abhay Patil, Professor Yogesh Dubey Sir, Professor Advait EdgaonkarProfessor A.K. DharniProfessor RekhaProfessor Bhaskar Sinha and Professor Suparva have always been kind with their inputs and guidance. 

Q. Who (or what) are the biggest influences or drivers in your careers. What would be your advice to freshers and IIFM graduates who are looking to choose similar sectors/roles?

A. My team members and boss at my previous job who gave me the push to go for IIFM degree. The fact that IIFM is a government institution and the overall fee structure is affordable also helped me take the plunge. My internship with WWF, at Arunachal Pradesh was a great learning experience and I had written a detailed account here .

The kind of sectors and sub-sectors the course offers are a niche and one should tap into that. There is ample scope and opportunity post the course and one must make efforts through assignments, readings and discussions to develop interest.

Neelima in Arunachal Pradesh

Q. What are your favourite memories during your IIFM days?


  • The tree walks with Abhay Patil Sir and the random Van Vihar field visits
  • The field trips in both years to places and National parks in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand (Ranthambore, Gir, FRI, Jim Corbett, Nalsarovar)
  • Improving my badminton game thanks to amazing seniors and batchmates
  • Understanding the functionality of a DSLR camera with seniors and exploring the wilderness of IIFM grasslands
  • Nature Club memories
  • Asha Sweets and New Market sandwich
  • Cohabiting with leopards, tigers, snakes, peacocks and others

Q. In hindsight, what was the biggest contribution (courses, faculty, library, friends, and alumni. Anything else!!)  or take away from IIFM that you think played a critical role in shaping you as an individual or professional?

A. Every aspect of IIFM has been extremely crucial and has contributed immensely to where I am today. The initial levels of environmental consciousness were sown at IIFM and I have to credit the wonderful faculty members, the staff (kitchen, hostel, academic block), my batchmates, seniors and juniors and the incredible learning environment at Bhopal.

Q. The best friends / seniors /faculty at IIFM? Some memorable tidbits that you like to share.

A. There are many memories but I recall a field trip to Samardha with Prof. Vijay Kumar Sir which was very eventful. There was an unexpected rain and thunder while at a bamboo plantation site and to top it the bus got stuck in the mud in the midst of the forests. We managed to make raincoats from the bus plastic seat covers, had some piping hot bhuttas under a thatched shed and then all the students pushed the bus out of the muck. Not to forget there was the tension of the impending exams next day but we managed to relieve our stress by singing old songs in the return journey.

Epic trip to Samardha
Field Trip Fun
Neelima with Prof. CSR and Prof. Advait

Q. As an alumnus, what is your advice to freshers or those are joining IIFM to get best out of the 2 years there?


Would suggest freshers to be updated about their interest areas. Read articles and op-eds and also write opinion pieces be it in newspapers/online magazines. Everything does not have to be a research publication.

Soak in and absorb the beauty of the campus. Definitely take out time from readings and get involved in extra-curricular activities as these will shape your personality.

Make connections, not contacts.

Reach out to alumni and professors for guidance, they are very approachable.

Take care of your mental as well physical health.

Q. What is your typical day at the office? 

A. Since I am a novice entrepreneur setting up a business, my day is very unscheduled. Some days I am writing proposals, and meeting government/corporate functionaries, the other days I am going through resumes and hiring interns. Some days I am focused on social media content creation and reading about other waste management practitioners and their work. Talking to clients, customers, vendors, and prospective partners and ideating also takes up a lot of time. In addition, I have also received a micro seed grant from The Pollination Project on developing a Compost Cafe. We look to provide hands on demonstration and create awareness about waste and the process of composting to the citizens of Odisha.

Q. And how about weekends, Hobbies, Family and anything else you want to add?

A. I detox and destress by composting, growing microgreens and taking care of my earthworms?. Planning for the next travel and catching up with friends is also something my husband and I do.

Neelima hosting Indian Dinner for her batchmates in UK

Q. Favorite Books, movies, authors?

A. I really lack the enthusiasm or the focus to read books these days (social media distraction I must say). But I do keep myself updated with documentaries, films and web series.

Q. IIFM is driven by alumni’s passion and commitments towards its goal. How would you like to contribute to IIFM or IIFM alumni, students?

A. I am happy to help students with internships at my organization if they are interested in the waste management sector. 

I would also be happy to mentor students who are interested in applying for the Chevening scholarships at UK

Q. What do you think is different at IIFM now vs when you studied there? What do you think is a positive change and what is not?

A. I haven’t visited the campus after I graduated, however I am assuming with the inclusion of the new course on Sustainable Development, there must be more students, wide variety of courses/modules to choose from and hence more interactions.

 I remember when I passed out, I wrote a letter to the then Director that we don’t practice enough what we preach. I had provided examples on waste management, waste segregation, composting, usage of solar lights, amongst other things that we studied but were not implemented on campus. Hopefully things have improved since then.

I recall that when applying for the Chevening scholarship, while selecting from the list of institutes for post-graduation, IIFM did not appear in the dropdown box. I had to settle with “Others”. I feel as an institution, we need to be more visible and market ourselves better.

We should include international student exchanges for one of the semesters too if feasible. Earlier students from SAARC countries did come, but not sure of why it is no longer there.

P.S. – I hope the pink building is no longer there and there is a fully functional canteen.

Q. Any suggestions on who you want to get profiled/interviewed here?

A. Plenty but will stick to this list: Indranil Roy, Navneet Bhatt, Arjun Subramaniam, K.P. Kiran, Pradip Das, Komal Preet Kaur , Shivanshu Sharma, Kapil Patil, Narendra Mohan, Tashi Tshering Lepcha.