What made you choose a career in the industry?

My father worked for the Environment Agency for more than 30 years, instilling a deep respect for the natural environment from an early age. However, over the same period of time, the news about our planet was getting progressively worse, from the ozone layer to the greenhouse effect and most recently the climate crisis. I would say my love of the natural world, coupled with the need to act, inspired me to choose this career.

What was your route into the industry – i.e. university, internship?

Well it took me a while to get into the industry – mainly because I was busy doing other jobs before the above really sunk in! Then in 2010, while working in education, I studied Environmental Policy at the Open University. Shortly after that, I had an opportunity to pitch a proposal for a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy to my company’s senior management team and they promptly created a role for me to deliver it. That was 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.

What advice would you give to others trying to get into the industry?

It’s a growing field and will likely continue to grow as governments and businesses reconcile the need to act with the need to invest.

However, it’s also going to be competitive, so give yourself an edge – get a qualification and professional membership from a recognised body, such as IEMA or CIWEM. I did a one-year diploma that led to Practitioner status with IEMA and it has allowed me access to a huge network of peers, lots of training and tons of resources.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far from working in the industry?

Be passionate, but also know your audience. Not everyone has bought into the need to act, as there are still other considerations at play when it comes to sustainability – be it related to viability, commerciality or just not grasping the urgency required.

Some sustainability measures don’t have an obvious return on investment, so you need to be prepared to frame your arguments and adapt them to your audience – there will always be an ‘in’, whether it’s looking at long-term savings, wellbeing, health, etc.

What are the things you love most about working in the industry?

To quote David Attenborough, climate change is “our greatest threat in thousands of years”. By extension, those that work to tackle climate change have, arguably, some of the most important jobs right now. Some days are tough, you’ll get knocked back, your aspirations watered down perhaps, other days you’ll feel like you’ve made progress and won a victory or two – the same as most jobs – but in this field, you’re doing something really, really worthwhile: saving the planet.

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