Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
I studied engineering geology in my bachelor degree, following which I completed my master’s in environmental geology. I chose to specialise in the environmental field asI wanted to tackle the environmental issues that have led to the environmental crises affecting the world. I thought, what better place to do that than by working in heavy industry?
What was your first job in this field?
It was an industrial placement job with EDF’s nuclear industry division.
How did you get your first role?
Via a competitive bursary scheme, organised by Viridian Consulting, a partnership that innovates clean-up methods for the nuclear industry.
What does your current role involve?
Working as a lead environmental engineer in the steel industry, leading a small team of environmental professionals to ensure compliance with environmental permit requirements, applying continuous improvements, and communicating with stakeholders in the areas of waste, landfill, water and effluent and greenhouse gas emissions. I have specific expertise in waste.
How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
I held a number of roles in the environment department before becoming a lead environmental engineer.
What’s the best part of your work?
Integrated steelworks is considered to be one of the most challenging places for environmental work. Besides achieving compliance, we have ongoing continuous improvement projects, and also need to consider future legislation and targets for the industry. This is challenging, but when we achieve our goals the prizes could be huge.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Improving environmental performance, as the plant was mostly built before any environmental regulations existed. It is a constant battle.
What was the last development event you attended?
A leadership and management course.
What did you bring back to your job?
How to support others to develop their skills.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?
Being patient and persistent, challenging wrong behaviours and mindsets, and persuading others.
Where do you see the profession going?
Environmental protection is the most important challenge of our time, so environmental professionals have a great responsibility to challenge ourselves and others to do better – not only to protect our environment, but also to leave a sustainable world for future generations.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I would like to be an experinced regulator, as I have worked in the heavy industry for more than 10 years and I feel it is the right time for me to work as a regulator. I will shortly start working at Natural Resource Wales.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
The subject is vast and the profession is incredibly diverse; there are so many more opportunities than there can appear to be from the outside.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Passionate, positive and caring.
What motivates you?
My personal goals, and leaving a better world for the future generations.
What would be your personal motto?
One person can make a difference.
Greatest risk you have ever taken?
Moving to the UK right after graduating from university.
If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Rachel Carson, to ask her how she stood strong against intense, vicious and sexist criticism she received from the chemical industry after she published one of the 20th century’s most influential environmental books, The Silent Spring – while fighting a battle against cancer.