My career: Bekir Andrews

11th February 2016

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Skills ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • Training ,
  • Knowledge Centre



Group sustainability manager, Balfour Beatty

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

I have always been interested in science and as a teenager took a great interest in forest decline, the ozone hole and climate change. After reading a number of scientific papers and being encouraged by my teachers, I soon realised a lot needed doing in a short space of time if future generations were to enjoy this planet. This spurred me on to study environmental biochemistry.

What was your first environment/sustainability job?

Part-time for a consultancy in Manchester. I was tasked with gathering information on coal power stations in Turkey.

How did you get your first role?

I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was already working with the consultancy on my MSc project and was the only person in the office who spoke Turkish, which enabled me to make initial contact with a prospective new client.

How did you progress your environment/sustainability career?

After completing my MSc I moved to London. Initially, I found it very difficult to get a job as I did not have enough experience – a problem that graduates still face today. I volunteered part-time for environmental regeneration charity Groundwork. After nine months, I applied for an opening and was successful. In 2004, I was appointed director of Groundwork’s trading company and won several contracts on Acorn/BS8555 implementation. I became the first consultant to successfully take a company through IEMA’s Acorn/BS8555 inspection scheme.

In 2005, I was appointed as director of Groundwork’s national environmental consultancy. I worked with many large businesses, government departments, and local authorities and was also contracted by Envirowise as a ‘fasttrack’ auditor. One of the more interesting contracts was supporting Balfour Beatty Workplace (BBW) on its facilities management tender for Defra. BBW was one of the first to incorporate sustainability into the scoring process. Given that it did not have a sustainability strategy in place, I advised on what was needed. In 2009, I was offered an opportunity to work for Romec, one of Balfour Beatty’s joint ventures, as a sustainability manager, later becoming group sustainability manager.

What does your job involve?

I am responsible for providing strategic sustainability focus to Balfour Beatty’s divisions around the world. This involves liaising with the boards of our operating businesses, engaging senior managers, undertaking sustainability audits against Balfour Beatty’s Blueprint strategy, producing guidance, and managing, checking and analysing non-financial data. I also coordinate third-party verification of scope 1 and 2 emissions, and manage assurance of our data globally. I also manage a team of energy practitioners for CRC and ESOS.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

I am more involved in helping business units reduce operating costs by driving fuel and energy saving programmes and working closely with suppliers.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Balancing time spent on developing long-term strategy with day-to-day delivery needs. Although I have clear targets to improve our sustainability performance, I also need to work on our long-term strategy and ensure that we engage and support all of our businesses on our sustainability journey.

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

I believe that being able to listen, communicate and negotiate are all key skills that are vital for making practitioners effective.

What was the last event you attended and what did you bring back to your job?

I attended IEMA’s 2015 sustainability conference, which I helped to organise. We had an extremely interesting discussion about labour standards and human rights, which I shared with Balfour Beatty’s ethics and supply chain team.

Where do you see the profession going?

Sustainability is becoming mainstream and it is only a matter of time before all companies start incorporating it into their business strategies.

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

Where I can effect positive change on a larger scale.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Learn how to put forward a successful business case. If you fail, unpick the business case with a friendly colleague and learn from your mistakes.

How do you use IEMA’s environmental skills map?

Balfour Beatty was one the first firms to adopt it and are currently supporting a number of staff working towards full membership.

Career file



Career history:

2012 to now group sustainability manager, Balfour Beatty

2009 to 2012 sustainability manager, Romec

2007 to 2009 London environment manager (head of business) and director, Groundwork

2004 to 2007 environmental business manager, director of environmental services and director, Groundwork

2001 to 2004 environmental adviser, Groundwork West London

1999 to 2001 volunteer and environmental business assistant, Groundwork West London

1998 researcher


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Career profile: Kimberley Lasi, CEnv, MIEMA

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

At a School of Management careers event at Cranfield University, one of our IEMA-approved university partners, we spoke to students from a range of postgraduate courses, from supply chain to marketing and management.

28th March 2024

Read more

To make real change on sustainability, it’s time to redefine leadership models, writes Chris Seekings

1st February 2024

Read more

Caris Graham (she/her) is Diverse Sustainability Initiative officer at IEMA

1st February 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool reflects on the highlights of the past year and what they mean for the future

1st February 2024

Read more

The percentage of women working in the built environment sector rose significantly last year although people from ethnic minorities find it up to six times harder to be recruited, according to a major survey.

17th January 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close