My career: Duncan Carthy

14th May 2011

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After more than a decade at Rolls Royce, Duncan Carthy has now set up his own environmental consultancy to help clients become more sustainable

Duncan Carthy
Managing director, Sensible Risk Solutions

Why did you become an environment professional?

I have always been passionate about protecting the world’s natural resources and thought that I could be most influential by entering the environment profession rather than becoming an activist or a politician. Thank goodness, I made the right choice.

What was your first environment job and how did you get it?

Local environment representative at Rolls-Royce. I asked to assist with the ISO 14001 programme and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I got involved in more and more meetings and got more training programmes under my belt.

How did you progress your environment career?

I paid for myself to do Open University environmental courses, and then got involved with the 14001 audit programme. A position then became available in another division of Rolls-Royce as assistant health, safety and environment (HSE) adviser. A lot of people said that I wouldn’t get it, but I did and they were proved wrong. Then I progressed within the turbines business, finally becoming HSE manager in 2006.

What does your current role involve?

I have recently set up my own consultancy business. So now I’m my own boss rather than advising Rolls-Royce. I advise my clients on the best ways to manage risk, including environmental issues, and how best to become more sustainable and cost-effective as a business. I suppose I now have more opportunity to improve a broader spectrum of companies with regards to their management of HSE topics.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

If I talk about the role at Rolls-Royce: when I first got involved, many of the systems were just being implemented for 14001 and in many respects that is the easy part. During my last years there as HSE manager I was involved with governance of the process, and advising multiple sites. It also involved thinking more strategically to get the best fit for the business and my vision of where sustainability should take it.

What are the best and the hardest parts of your work?

The best bit is finding a solution to a problem, building the business case and seeing it come to fruition. The worst bit is dealing with managers with different agendas and trying to pull them all together.

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

From a purely environmental point of view it was my MSc. I’m also about to complete carbon action adviser training, so the continuing professional development “bus” keeps on moving and you need to make sure you’re continually up to speed.

What did you bring back to your job?

From my MSc, a broader, more rounded outlook on HSE issues.

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

Without a doubt, it’s communication. There are so many people with differing key performance indicators or expectations that good communication is key to getting the message across to different audiences.

Where do you see the environment profession going?

I am pleased to say that I see it as a growth area. With many “green” technologies coming on stream and the heightened awareness of the public regarding the fragile state of the planet and its resources, I believe that good advice and management can enhance the position of the profession. I think the days where we were seen as the “green welly” or the “Jesus sandal” brigade have passed and we need to ensure that the professionalism continues.

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

I would like to think that I can grow my business portfolio and client list and develop myself to get Chartered Environmentalist status.

What advice would you give to someone considering going into the environment profession?

Don’t give up when you get knocked back as you inevitably will in business from time to time. Be patient with your development; I completed the IEMA certificate in 2002 and became an Associate in the same year.

It has taken another eight years to become a Full member and to obtain the relevant levels of experience and additional qualifications, such as the NEBOSH specialist Diploma in environmental management and my MSc. Always remember to pick your battles but not to miss the small improvements that all add up to make the sustainable business.

Career file:


MSc health, safety and environmental management, CMIOSH, MIEMA, MIIRSM, MIFSM, MRSPH, MCMI, AEPS

2010 to now:

Managing director, Sensible Risk Solutions


Health, safety and environment (HSE) manager, Rolls-Royce


Principal, senior and HSE adviser, Rolls-Royce


Skilled machinist and local environment adviser, Rolls-Royce


Toolmaker, skilled machinist, various


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