Career profile: Darren Male

Darren Male

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
A combination of an academic interest in design, science and engineering and outdoor pursuits from my scouting experiences. My father was a landscape gardener and Scout camp service team manager, so the environment was embedded into my background.

What was your first job in this field?
Sewerage modeller, Water Research Centre. I loved computer modelling, even if it was to transport sewage!

How did you get your first role?
A placement in my first degree in civil engineering. My second job was working at van building LDV as part of my masters in environmental management. In 2000, I was headhunted by South Staffordshire Water to be environmental manager.

What does your current role involve?
Supporting companies in the utility and rail contracting industry to achieve their corporate certifications and accreditations. This involves auditing, training, and risk reviews. I also do mentoring and development, and teach NEBOSH environment certificate courses.

How has your role progressed? 
ISO has become less dominant to the various industry schemes, but all are based on the same model.

What’s the best part of your work?
Seeing companies go through their three-year maturity development 
cycles and helping people to achieve their objectives, whether individual 
or corporate.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Convincing operations directors that they cannot tolerate poor vehicle driving performance by their employees just because they are the hardest workers.

What was the last development event you attended?
IEMA ISO 14001 Transition Consultation.

What did you bring back to your job?
Deeper understanding of ISO 14001 requirements.

What are the most important skill(s) for your job?
Being knowledgeable, having great attention to detail, and being friendly and supportive in delivery.

Where do you see the profession going?
With all the current focus on environment issues following increased media attention due to David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion protests, Greta Thunberg petitioning on climate change, and increased awareness of local air quality issues, I am awaiting to see if interest in environmental issues increases among buyers and contractors.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I love providing training, mentoring (and talking!), so delivery of more training while supported by extra consultants (I currently employ two) delivering in the field.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Ensure that your communication skills are good and that you are able to talk confidently to all levels of the business – workers, supervisors, managers and directors. People learn through stories.  

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
At Fellow level, I mentor people interested in environmental issues. I am a Full Member Mentor and Fellow Assessor, and I use the IEMA Skills Map to guide people along their journey.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Energetic Peter Pan!

What motivates you?
Achieving positive outcomes. In environmental management you know you are delivering a moral and ethical service to the benefit of all.

What would be your personal motto?
Same as scouting: do your best, do your duty.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?
I could say the outdoor pursuits I do, but being honest: he first year of running my own business (2005), or the first year as Group Scout Leader (2012) – they were the hardest years of my life.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet? 
James Lovelock (still alive at the age of 100), best known for proposing the 
Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.  

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