Meet the board member: Terry A'Hearn

8th February 2013



IEMA appointed two new non-executive directors to its board in November 2012 and the new recruits attended their first board meeting on 5 December

In the December 2012 issue of the environmentalist, one of the newly appointed non-executives, Richard Powell, was introduced to members. Here, we meet the other, Terry A’Hearn (pictured), chief executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

A’Hearn began his career more than 20 years ago as a senior policy officer for the department of treasury and finance in Victoria, Australia. He held several policy and director-level roles in the department before becoming acting chief executive at Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority in 2009.

The following year he joined London-based consultancy firm WSP Environment & Energy as a director of global regulatory, innovation, climate change and sustainability services.

The roles A’Hearn has taken since arriving in the UK have helped him to develop a broader international understanding of environment management issues. “I aim to bring a global focus in my contributions to the IEMA board,” he says.

Now chief executive at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, A’Hearn leads direction on environmental policy and practice drawing on his extensive experience in Australia and the UK.

A’Hearn says he didn’t need any persuading to submit an application to become an IEMA board member after hearing that there was a vacant position from a member of the Institute.

“Before joining the board I knew a reasonable amount about IEMA. I had been involved in several IEMA discussions and met many environment professionals who spoke to me about Institute,” he says.

Since becoming involved at board level, A’Hearn’s prior impressions of IEMA have been confirmed and deepened. “The more I learn about IEMA, the more I find out about the breadth of its activities, the depth of knowledge of its staff and its importance to the environment agenda in the UK,” he says.

According to A’Hearn, the challenges facing the environment profession and IEMA centre on making links between the environment and financial security.

“We need to find the nexus between economic prosperity and environmental resilience in the 21st century,” he says. “I believe the profession can use its extensive expertise in combination with other professions to help bring about such major change.”

A’Hearn’s experience

2012–present: Northern Ireland Environment Agency, chief executive
2010–present: Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, honorary senior associate
2010–12: WSP Environment & Energy, director of global regulatory, innovation, climate change and sustainability services
2009–10: Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia, acting chief executive
2003–09: Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia, director of sustainable development
1989–93: Department of treasury and finance, Victoria, Australia, senior policy officer

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