Career profile: Nigel Sagar

Published on: 2 Nov 2020

NigelWhy did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
I have always had an interest in the environment but my first work role came about when I was asked to help write and implement Skanska UK’s first ISO 14001 EMS in 2000. At the time I was a construction site manager working in the civil engineering sector.

What was your first job in this field?
As a member of a Skanska UK working group established to develop our first EMS and roll it out across the business before it was externally certified.

How did you get your first role?
After assisting in writing the EMS, I implemented it within one part of Skanska UK’s business and then became the full-time environment advisor.

What does your current role involve?
I am now head of environmental compliance. This involves overseeing the environmental documents on our management system, assisting with internal and external audits, data collection and reporting, and supporting and developing our environment team. I am also on IEMA’s Circular Economy, Auditor, and Yorkshire and Humberside Region Steering Groups.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
I have held several roles, from being a project environment advisor to being environment manager for one of the business streams before moving to the Skanska UK central environment team.

What’s the best part of your work?
Seeing my team grow and develop from five people in 2000 to more than 60 now. This enables us not just to look at environmental management and compliance but also to bring in green innovations that deliver tangible financial benefits.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Keeping up to date with technologies and not having enough time.

What was the last development event you attended?
I’m taking a leadership and management course, leading to a CMI qualification. The course is focused on the co-operative and community business sector, which I am involved in during my spare time – I am on a committee running a co-operative community pub, and advise other organisations as a development and support advisor.

What did you bring back to your job?
I have already gained a better appreciation of how to identify and quantify social impact and value – an area that I am keen to explore further.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?
Being able to explain things in a way that is understood by my audience and is meaningful to them, including the financial implications.

Where do you see the profession going?
Making better use of data we have to make informed decisions that really make a positive difference.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
Living on a planet that has a sustainable long-term future.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Sometimes you have to take a chance – I came into the profession with little knowledge, but I am still working here 20 years later, really enjoying it.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
Having not come into the profession with a qualification, I have used it to identify and close gaps in my knowledge. It links well with the personal development matrices Skanska uses during our annual reviews.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Reliable, detailed, curious.

What motivates you?
I still have time to make a difference.

What would be your personal motto?
Community is strength.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?
Taking a mortgage out to buy a narrowboat to live on. I lived on it for more than 10 years.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
George Orwell.