Career profile: Rebecca Shadlock CEnv, MCIWM, MCIHT, PIEMA

30th November 2023


Technical director, environment and sustainability, Mott MacDonald

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

Geography was a subject that I enjoyed and I did well in it. I’ve always loved being outside and used to live near a lock managed by the Environment Agency. I knew of their role from an early age and it seemed the right place to start my career.

What was your first job in this field?

I was a seasonal river inspector but ended up helping the navigation team leader set up and manage a database to track capital projects on assets in the Anglian region.

How did you get your first role?

I kept applying to the Environment Agency until I was successful. I accepted a seasonal role and then secured a permanent job in the flood and coastal risk management team.

What does your current role involve?

Leadership and building relationships. Most of my time is spent growing our presence in the North East and developing a team of environment and sustainability professionals. I am now also an account leader for our work with contractors, so it’s a lot of relationship building and work winning.

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

I have built up a varied career history. From being a regulator to being on the other side ensuring that operations are run in a way that is compliant but profitable. I moved into construction and worked on nationally significant infrastructure projects, which I loved, and embedded environmental excellence into schemes. Now, after 18 years, I am putting all this experience into a leadership role, building a team of environment and sustainability professionals in the North East and growing the Mott MacDonald business.

What’s the best part of your work?

I love meeting and engaging with so many different people and collaborating. Working with technical experts, it is fascinating to see how much difference we can make to the biodiversity and climate crisis with the skills, knowledge and tools we have at our fingertips.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Probably getting everyone on the same page by effective collaboration and getting everyone to see the bigger picture.

What was the last development event you attended?

North East digital sector: 2023 outlook.

What did you bring back to your job?

Awareness and acknowledgement that Newcastle is fast becoming a hub for tech investment and that digital enables us in so many ways and is fundamental to delivering social outcomes.

What are the most important skills for your job?

Being collaborative, open-minded and pragmatic. In my role, intuition is important – and staying up to date with the industry that you’re working in. I always prepare and believe that you need to put the effort in to get the right results.

Where do you see the profession going longer term?

We are seeing a transformation from sustainability being an add-on to now being front and centre in fighting climate change. People can see the value of sustainability to both people and planet and this trend will continue to be a critical part of any conversation about development.

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

Part of an executive leadership team and continuing to make a difference. Being part of a business that is profitable but also contributes to delivering social outcomes.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?

It helps me to identify gaps in my capabilities and what action I need to take so that I am at the top of my game.

Describe yourself in three words

Hard-working, conscientious and kind.

What motivates you?

My family. Particularly my parents, who didn’t have the opportunities that I did, and being a role model to my daughter.

What would be your personal motto?

Work hard and don’t give up.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?

I am not a huge risk-taker, but I’ve always pushed myself in my career and have never been afraid to leave an employer if the opportunities for growth were not there.

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

Maya Angelou.

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