Career Profile: Jason Light
Strategy lead for environment at Eastleigh Borough Council.
Why did you become an environment and sustainability professional?
A local woodland has played a big part in my choices. It’s where I first learned to be independent by playing without adults. But, most importantly, it encouraged me to be appreciative of the natural world.
What was your first job in this field?
My first role in this sector was as project officer in the environmental futures and sustainability team at Hampshire County Council. I was fortunate to be trained to use the UK Climate Projections tool (UKCP09) by Met Office climatologists, and, alongside energy efficiency projects, improved service resilience for residents.
How did you get your first role?
One of the managers ran an annual water engagement event that I volunteered at. I was offered a three-month secondment to work on a tool for environmental impact assessment and never went back.
What does your current role involve?
I provide a steer for all environmental activities directly or indirectly delivered by the local council, including transport, waste, energy, biodiversity and air quality. I provide challenge to services, monitor policy changes and ensure compliance.
How has your role changed?
The portfolio I oversee has expanded considerably, so instead of specialising I now need to know enough about everything and where to find assistance.
What’s the best part of your work?
Knowing that everything you do is likely to have a positive impact on local people and the planet.
And the hardest?
Knowing when it’s the right time to tackle an issue and when you need to park it and try another tactic.
What was the last development event you attended?
The IEMA Solent taster session, with three speakers from different sectors.
What did you bring back?
I discovered how monitoring technology and case management systems can lead to incredible efficiency savings.
What are the key skills for your job?
I cover such a wide range of environmental issues that it’s critical to know what skills are available in and outside the organisation. I spend a great deal of time building relationships and negotiating resources. I regularly work with partners, including sponsoring research projects at four universities in my area.
Where is the profession going?
The move towards sustainability means that there are more professionals who are required to have an incredibly broad spread of knowledge.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I’m keen to move into the commercial sector at some point to broaden my range of experience.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Get in contact with local environmental professionals, volunteer, shadow and get a mentor. Even if the first person can’t help, it’s such an open sector the chances are they will be able to welcome you into a whole network of inspiring people.
How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
I use the skills map to identify areas of need and to work up a bespoke development plan.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Secret geeky hippy.
What motivates you?
Improving the environmental performance of the organisation I work for but also influencing residents and businesses in our area.
What’s your personal motto?
The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. It’s dangerous to think you know everything about something.
If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Forester and environmental activist Richard St. Barbe Baker. We both grew up in the same area, where I now work. I’ve planted hundreds of trees over the years and like to think that I’m continuing the legacy of one of the world’s greatest environmentalists.