My career - Alex Martin
Senior regulatory consultant, Edif ERA
Why did you become an environment professional?
I grew up with environmental issues making the news in ways they hadn’t before, such as the hole in the ozone layer, deforestation in the Amazon and climate change. Being able to play even a small part in the management of such issues struck me as exciting and worthwhile. I also felt entering the profession would offer a potentially diverse career with opportunities to think as well as do.
What was your first environment job?
A placement at E.ON UK. This involved assisting with data collection, analysis and writing for the sustainability report. I also participated in internal audits and responded to requests for information from investors and other stakeholders.
How did you get your first role?
I was keen to do an industrial year placement as part of my degree; I thought it would provide excellent experience in readiness for entering the job market. I applied for various placements, which in the case of E.ON UK involved giving a presentation at interview.
How did you progress your career?
By moving between organisations and taking different roles – all the while working on product policy and compliance. This has been the common thread for me since graduating and joining Sony where I first came to learn about RoHS and REACH, materials testing and managing product compliance in complex supply chains. I continue to deal with these, but also worked in areas such as ecodesign and energy labelling, and timber regulation and FSC certification as well doing factory audits in Europe, India and China.
What does your current role involve?
Winning and delivering projects that relate to what I consult on: technical and environmental regulation affecting electrical and electronic equipment. This includes projects for businesses as well as trade associations, the UK government and the European Commission. My Edif ERA colleagues and I also offer training, run an annual regulatory conference, and provide commentary through trade publications.
How has your role changed over the past few years?
I’ve only been in the job a couple of years, but the concepts of responsible sourcing and supply chain transparency have certainly further emerged in this time.
What’s the best part of your work?
Collaboration. This might entail sharing ideas with my colleagues on work proposals or how best to progress projects. Fostering working relationships outside the business can also be rewarding, particularly if they create partnerships or consortia that go on to win projects.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Keeping an even workload. You can move between famine and feast on occasion, but throughout it is important to remain engaged and enthusiastic.
What was the last development event you attended?
It was Edif ERA’s annual conference on regulatory matters, titled Electrical and Electronic Equipment and the Environment.
What did you bring back to your job?
Understanding of how various topics – from substance restrictions to ecodesign and the circular economy – are developing and the compliance challenges facing practitioners. A highlight was hearing from a representative of the European Chemicals Agency on the revision of its substances in articles guidance.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role?
Communication skills are a must; these are especially important for discerning what clients are looking for. Research skills are important too, as is the ability to synthesise technical information and relate it to a client’s focus. Getting to a bottom line on something for an industrial client is typically what they want you to deliver, which may well mean understanding not only regulation but their products and business models.
Where do you see the profession going?
I feel it’s going to develop more specialisms. There’s a sense of that already in the UK, with the establishment of GACSO and ICRS as professional institutes. Some of this development will, I feel, be driven by technological change. Take the internet of things and its potential for more data capture, something that could lead to many more environmental and sustainability assessments being performed across various applications.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
Various possibilities interest me, including continuing in consultancy, and working for another trade association.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Try to establish what really interests you and the work environment(s) you’re best suited to. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for advice. And take advantage of any training opportunities.
How do you use IEMA’s skills map?
I drew on it before proceeding to a full membership and I now refer to it for CPD.
BSc (Hons), EngD, PCQI, MIEMA, CEnv
2015 to date senior regulatory consultant, Edif ERA
2014 project support, Eastar Pharma
2011 to 2014 product standards manager, Gardman
2008 to 2011 technical officer, AMDEA
2003 to 2008 research engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment
2001 to 2002 industrial year placement, E.ON UK
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