My career: Adam Wilkinson

8th November 2012

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  • Employee engagement ,
  • EMS ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • Skills



Adam Wilkinson reveals that working with an experienced environmental professional has been really valuable career development

Why did you become an environment professional?

I wanted something multidisciplinary. I love the broad range of elements that make up my job: management systems, carbon reduction, water efficiency, travel plans, audits, waste management and corporate responsibility. Variety is the very spice of life.

What was your first environment job?

Technically, it was a graduate placement with Halcrow, working on the national flood risk assessment. It was a great introduction to the profession but involved a lot of technical geographic information systems work – I soon realised I wanted a broader environment management role.

How did you get your first environment role?

I attended a careers fair in my final year at university and after the event got talking to one of the speakers from Halcrow, who advised me they had graduate places.

How have you developed your environment career?

Obtaining an MSc in environmental management for business has certainly helped, but my most valuable career development so far was the opportunity to work closely with an experienced consultant in designing and implementing an environment management system at the Royal Veterinary College. I learned a lot and gained an enormous amount of hands-on experience; it’s stood me in great stead.

What does your current role involve?

From organising efficiency projects and environment management systems, to running training sessions, I get to do it all. We are in the early stages of formalising our environment management approach and it’s going to be an exciting journey.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

My day-to-day work has changed enormously, not least with a move from the public to the private sector. The biggest change, however, has been the addition of health and safety duties to my job description.

What’s the best part of your work?

By far, it’s investigating incidents. It’s rare for things to go wrong, but when they do I really enjoy scrutinising events to discover the root cause, and then taking action to ensure it won’t happen again.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Maintaining the balance between health and safety and environment. Environment projects can easily fall in to the “would be nice” pile. I’m hoping further integration of our management systems will ease this in the future.

What was the last development/training course/event you attended?

I completed my MSc early this year and am currently taking the NEBOSH diploma in occupational health and safety.

What did you bring back to your job?

Every module of the degree was useful in some respect, though learning how to develop and present environment project appraisals was particularly helpful. It’s proven a lot easier to get senior management on side with a quality project appraisal.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role and why?

Communication skills are extremely important. I’m the only person in my company of 200 with an environment background and I have to ensure that everyone is engaged. It’s also very important to be flexible; it’s a dynamic period for environment management and sustainability and you have to be able to keep abreast of changes.

Where do you see the environment profession going?

It’s definitely a growth area. In smaller organisations I think environment departments are going to be increasingly merged with health, safety, quality and risk functions. It won’t be long before all organisations treat this collective as an important function in its own right.

Where would like to be in five years’ time?

Doing a similar type of work but managing a team. I really enjoy my job but people management would be a welcome addition.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the profession?

It’s a fantastic area to work in because there’s such a huge variety of roles out there. A qualification will help you get a foot in the door, but nothing beats hands-on experience. Take every opportunity you can to work in industry; it’ll add serious weight to your CV.

How do you use IEMA’s environmental skills map?

I’ve pinned up a hardcopy up in front of my manager’s desk! We’re using it to help set personal performance targets for next year.

Career file


BSc oceanography with physical geography; MSc environmental management for business; AIEMA

Career history:

August 2011 to now: Health, safety and environment adviser, Cambridge Display Technology
2009–2011: Environment officer, Royal Veterinary College
June 2008–November 2008: Geographic information system technician, Halcrow


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