Career profile: Jon Frederick Treacher, PIEMA, MCIWM

31st May 2023

Sustainability lead assessor, tunnels and underground infrastructure, COWI

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

As a child I was always really interested in nature and the natural world. I spent hours riding around on my bike in the fields and woodlands.

What was your first job in this field?

I was a bathing water sampling officer/ microbiologist with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). My role was to collect and analyse water samples from designated bathing water sites along the east coast of Scotland.

How did you get your first role?

I applied after doing an MSc in biology of water resource management at Edinburgh Napier University. The hiring manager at SEPA was aware of the course and invited me for interview.

What does your current role involve?

I work in an international team on large and complex infrastructure projects. I lead on sustainability management and the certification process on a range of projects, such as bridges, tunnels and public transportation, around the world.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?

Since leaving the UK for Denmark in 2013, I have been on international teams working on infrastructure projects, often leading or being part of the environmental team. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities and experiences.

What’s the best part of your work?

Encouraging and inspiring others to integrate sustainability initiatives into daily practice so that improvements to the environment and society are seen and felt.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Nudging the mindset of those who are comfortable with their business-as-usual approach.

What was the last development event you attended?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Baseline and Design, in January 2023.

What did you bring back to your job?

A practical application and demonstration of BNG on a large-scale public transport infrastructure project.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?

Listening and being able to understand the client’s problem is one thing. But being able to suggest workable solutions is the biggest skill of all.

Where do you see the profession going?

Growing. I can see the profession occupying a place of increasing influence within businesses and organisations.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

Working on a large-scale public transport infrastructure project that has a positive impact on the environment and provides benefits and opportunities for the communities it is a part of.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Get a good science or engineering degree and back this up with work placements to apply the theory learned and see how it works in the real world. Join a professional network such as IEMA and work your way up through the grades.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?

To ensure my professional development is on track.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Determined, hard-working and ambitious.

What motivates you?

I have seen some of the world’s natural wonders. I would like my daughter to see them too, as well as those we have managed to restore and regenerate.

What would be your personal motto?

There are no passengers on this ship.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?

Moving to Denmark in 2013 with no professional network, job or understanding of the language or culture. I am very glad I took the risk, though.

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

Rachel Carson. She wrote one of the most influential books in the modern environmental movement.

If you would like to contribute a member profile, contact: [email protected]

Image credit: Shutterstock


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