Principal consultant, Temple Group
Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
My parents always imagined me chained to a tree somewhere, protecting the environment. I like to think the job I do allow people to build much needed homes and infrastructure, but with the least environmental impacts.
What was your first environment/sustainability job?
One of the first environmental impact assessment (EIA) projects I worked on, and my first experience as a project manager, was for a site called RAF Upwood in Huntingdonshire. It was for a large mixed use development on a former RAF site with lots of environmental constraints but plenty of opportunities for enhancement.
How did you get your first role?
I joined my previous company straight out of university; I’d done some volunteering and extra GIS courses beforehand that provided me with relevant experience I needed to become an environmental consultant. I was also a graduate member of IEMA which I think helped my credibility when applying for EIA jobs.
How did you progress your environment/sustainability career?
I attended seminars, training, conferences and networking events. That furthered my understanding of the industry. I’ve also been fortunate to work on a varied range of projects which have helped to build experience, and have worked with a variety of project teams and clients across the industry. Sometimes being thrown in to the deep ends really pays off.
During the early years of my career I was also the CIWEM West and East Midlands new members group committee secretary and an East Midlands planning aid volunteer. Again, these opened up new networks and provided me with invaluable experience.
What does your current role involve?
I am currently working on a number of schemes for Transport for London (TfL) where I am an EIA consultant and environmental advisor. I currently work on a number of major infrastructure schemes across London where I am advising clients on environmental impacts and environmental mitigation and construction issues, such as such as consents, KPI targets and environmental monitoring.
How has your role changed over the past few years?
In the early days I would have supported on a number of projects or lead just one major project. Now I tend to be the project manager for a number of projects at the same time with a team around me to provide specialist advice.
I also support on a number of business development initiatives and get involved in key account management which is completely different to project delivery and provides an opportunity to think strategically about possible future projects.
What’s the best part of your work?
Seeing projects being completed! It’s sometimes frustrating that you work hard on projects that never get built. In the infrastructure sector that rarely happens and to visit somewhere and say I helped create this is the best part of my job.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Convincing others that the environment is just as important as the engineering aspects. Often the environmental disciplines are appointed far too late in the process when a lot of the design and construction options have already been decided.
What was the last event you attended and what did you bring back to your job?
I attended Tomorrow’s Rail 2015 - Essential Infrastructure in July. It was interesting to see what the future of rail could look like and where we as a profession can influence the industry.
What are the most important skills for your role and why?
Having the ability to provide effective professional advice and guidance to clients on both construction and environmental issues and have strong inter-personal skills to negotiate with various environmental stakeholders including local authorities.
Where do you see the environment/sustainability profession going?
A lot of people talk about protecting the environment and adding sustainability but very few actually know what this means and how to put it into practice. Hopefully as time progresses and more exemplar projects are showcased, everyone will have the same understanding of what our profession can do.
Where would like to be in five years’ time?
I would like to think that in five years’ time I am still working on some of the major TfL projects. Maybe Crossrail 3, the next cable car? Or maybe even double decker tubes. Now that would be a challenge!
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Never say no to an opportunity as you never know where it could take you or what experience you will gain from it. The more challenging the project the more experience you will gain.
BSc Geography (Hons)
IEMA Affiliate (working towards Chartership)
APM Introductory Certificate in Project Management, 2012
2007 - 2012 - BWB Consultancy
2012 - 2015 - Temple Group