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Principal consultant, Temple Group

Why did you become an environment and sustainability professional?

I have loved the environment since I was a child. My primary school was next to an airport and I used to write about air pollution. My parents always imagined me chained to a tree somewhere, protecting the environment. I like to think the job I do allows people to build much-needed homes and infrastructure, but with the fewest environmental impacts.

What was your first environment or sustainability job?

One of the first environmental impact assessment (EIA) projects I worked on and my first experience as a project manager was at RAF Upwood in Huntingdonshire. It was for a large, mixed-use development on the former airfield with lots of environmental constraints but plenty of opportunities for enhancement.

How did you get your first role?

I joined BWB Consultancy straight from university. I’d done some volunteering and extra GIS courses beforehand that provided me with the experience I needed to become an environmental consultant. I was also a Graduate member of IEMA, which I think helped my credibility when applying for EIA jobs.

How did you progress your environment/sustainability career?

I attended seminars, training, conferences and networking events that furthered my understanding of the industry. I’ve also been fortunate to work on a varied range of projects, which has helped to build experience, and have worked with various project teams and clients across the industry. Sometimes being thrown into the deep end really pays off. During the early years of my career, I was also the committee secretary for the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s West and East Midlands new members’ group and an East Midlands planning aid volunteer. Again, these opened up new networks and provided me with invaluable experience.

What does your current role involve?

I am working on several schemes for Transport for London where I am an EIA consultant/environmental adviser. I’m also advising clients across London on the environmental impacts and environmental mitigation and construction issues – such as consents, targets for key performance indicators and environmental monitoring – on some major infrastructure schemes.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

In the early days, I would support a number of projects or lead just one major project. Now I tend to be the project manager for several projects at the same time with a team around me to provide specialist advice. I also assist business development initiatives and get involved in key account management, which is completely different from project delivery and provides an opportunity to think strategically.

What’s the best part of your work?

Seeing projects being completed. It’s sometimes frustrating that you work hard on projects that are never get built. In the infrastructure sector that rarely happens and to visit somewhere and say I helped to create this is the best part of my job.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Convincing others that the environment is just as important as the engineering. Often the environmental disciplines are appointed far too late in the process when a lot of the design and construction options have already been decided.

What was the last event you attended?

Speaking at ‘Green Sky Thinking Week’, discussing the opportunities for and benefits of proactive environmental management throughout all stages of a project.

What are the most important skills for your role and why?

The ability to provide effective professional advice and guidance to clients on construction and environmental issues as well as having strong inter-personable skills to negotiate with various stakeholders, including local authorities.

Where do you see the environment/sustainability profession going?

A lot of people talk about protecting the environment and adding sustainability but few know what this means and how to put it into practice. Hopefully, as time progresses and more exemplar projects are showcased, everyone will have the same understanding of what our profession can do.

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

I would like to think that in five years’ time I am still working on some of the major infrastructure projects in London. Maybe the next Crossrail or cable car?

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Never say no to an opportunity because you never know where it could take you or what experience you will gain from it. The more challenging the project the more experience you will gain.

Career file

Qualifications:

BSc (Hons), IEMA Affiliate – currently working towards Chartered environmentalist status

Career history:

2012 to now principal consultant, Temple Group

2007 to 2012 environmental consultant, BWB Consultancy