Supporting future leaders- Tim Balcon

Published on: 23 May 2019


Millions of students around the world will be starting or returning to their studies this month. Many who finished university in the summer will be entering the world of work at the same time. It is simultaneously a daunting and exciting time, with every one of their future accomplishments and challenges laying on the road ahead. I’ve been wondering what that journey will look like. In what kind of world will they – all of us – be working in ten, 25 or even 40 years’ time?

Even without the aid of a crystal ball we know the impacts of climate change, resource threats, water stress, volatile energy prices and a rapidly rising population will press heavily on society and business. In essence, it is everything that IEMA’s two Perfect Storm reports highlighted so well. We know that every job will change naturally because of how humans have altered nature, so it is worth taking a moment to remember that today’s students and graduates are tomorrow’s leaders. We must support, encourage and challenge them.

IEMA will play its part; the organisation has already put in the necessary effort to create a robust, future-fit membership structure that has wide relevance and appeal. We took the time to reset the Graduate grade and make it a professionally recognised membership, one that celebrates achievement and holds to account those emerging from study. We have also assembled the IEMA Futures group to give those at the start of their career a voice and a platform. And, as we’re about to welcome a fresh new cohort of student members this autumn, we pledge to stick with them throughout their careers.

For the first time, that group of new members will not come predominantly from those studying traditional environment topics. Because of the shift the ‘perfect storm’ challenges are causing more people from other disciplines to tune in to what our profession does, and are putting their foot in the door. That is no bad thing. The article on the gender gap in the environment and sustainability profession (see other article) highlights how it would benefit from greater diversity.

As an organisation and a profession we are focused on the future. We do not spend time dwelling on what has gone before; we’re about making the right impacts now and further down the line. Supporting those who are yet to make their mark feels like the right thing to do – for all of us.