Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
It’s because of my weird degree from Hatfield Polytechnic. My BSc was in manufacturing systems engineering but I added a minor in philosophy (they closed the loophole after me!). I ended up with this passion for marrying the moral and practical. I’m an engineer by profession but a dreamer by inclination.
What was your first job in this field?
My first job was in the IBM safety department. I worked opposite Kieran Myers, who has become an industry leader in sustainability at Sony. At the time, I’d never met anyone who had such a passion for sustainability, and the experience lit a flame. My first proper role was at Schroders – one of the first investment managers to include operational risks and sustainability in its annual reports and accounts.
How did you get your first role?
I was an engineer and safety professional in building services at Dresdner Bank when the Schroders role came up, in 1999. I took the role because they offered to let me train for the IEMA Foundation Certificate, and I could get involved with measuring performance. Health and safety and sustainability are complementary; I’d always encourage health and safety practitioners to learn about sustainability and vice versa.
What does your current role involve?
I am a multiskilled trainer and consultant, so I do what my clients need me to do – everything from helping to build an ISO 14001 management system to teaching sustainability skills.
How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
Becoming self employed is the biggest change. I know my impact better because I record accommodation, travel time and so on. Basic awareness of sustainability has also improved.
What’s the best part of your work?
Helping to make a difference. A recent client was using an adhesive that was a serious pollutant. With guidance, it was able to devise a solution with no glue.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Ploughing through documents in a management system, trying to make sense of it.
What was the last development event you attended?
I’ve struggled to fit events into being self employed. It can be lonely on the road though, so I’ve promised myself I’ll make time after lockdown.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?
A sense of calm. I see clients daunted by the difference between what they think they can achieve and the condition our world is in. You have to get them to take steps and not worry how big those steps are, and trust that the direction is right.
Where do you see the profession going?
We’re going to be in increasing demand. It can’t be any other way. You may dislike experts but try to do without them for a bit and you end up needing them more.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I’d like to have a better split between training and consultancy. It might also be nice to have some help.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Be tenacious – not in aggressive way, but don’t ever give up. If you meet an obstacle, go around it. If you’re evidence based, you’ll eventually be proved right.
How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
For career gap analysis.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Hands, face, space.
What motivates you?
What would be your personal motto?
I know what I know (stolen from the Paul Simon song).
Greatest risk you have ever taken?
If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Rachel Carson – a person who made herself heard.