My career: Katie Lumley
- Transport ,
- Business & Industry ,
- Employee engagement ,
- Stakeholder engagement ,
Katie Lumley reveals how becoming a student member of IEMA led her to her first environment role at liftshare.com
Why did you become an environment professional?
I am a lover of the great outdoors. Growing up in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, I have spent much of my life outside, normally in or under the water! After witnessing the damaging effects we can have on our whole environment, I couldn’t just sit back and watch.
What was your first experience of working within an environment role?
While I was studying for my degree I spent five months working as a research assistant for the Fijian government’s fisheries department. I was responsible for collecting data on the physical condition of the region’s coral reef biodiversity and communicating these to stakeholders, to help set up locally managed marine protected areas.
How did you get your first environment job?
Through IEMA actually. During my masters course I joined IEMA and attended a regional conference: “Making the business case for sustainability”. At this event I met Ali Clabburn, founder of liftshare.com – the website for people looking to share car journeys. Ali offered me a graduate position at the company when my studies were finished.
How has your career progressed so far?
Since joining liftshare, I have progressed to managing a number of large projects encouraging sustainable behaviour change. This includes the creation of myPTP, a new web-based tool that provides personalised travel plans for individuals in organisations.
What does your current role involve?
My main duties are to manage and monitor the company’s environment management plan, compile and coordinate car-sharing research, alongside lobbying relevant stakeholders and interested parties, and respond to consultations on sustainable transport. And I am also responsible each year for auditing the liftshare-system statistics.
What’s the best part of your work?
The ever increasing membership of the liftshare.com network. It is testimony to the increasing awareness of the need for sustainability and the importance of behaviour-change programmes in achieving this transition. I also enjoy working for a company with green values at its core. The support and commitment we have from our senior management team makes implementing our own environmental management plan both exciting and achievable.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Having constantly to convince people that the environment matters. Often if individuals cannot see the direct benefits of behaviour change, persuading them to make a change can be really difficult.
What was the last development/training course/event you attended?
A course on travel planning for businesses held by the ACT Travel Wise Association – a network for UK organisations working to promote sustainable travel.
What did you bring back to your job?
A better understanding of the difficulties facing environment professionals in moving senior management teams and employees from resistance to commitment. It is vital to know your audience and respond to them specifically in order to gain support for your initiatives.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role, and why?
Passion and communication. Without a real drive to convey the importance of sustainable behaviour, you cannot deliver real change in organisations. You also need strong project-management skills and determination to be able to achieve change.
Where do you see the environment profession going?
As more and more businesses become aware of their environmental commitments and impacts, I see the profession growing, hopefully to form part of the core management team, as opposed to being seen as an add-on and an inconvenience.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I would like to gain Associate IEMA membership, continue my personal development within the environment profession and to be studying towards a qualification in environmental law.
What advice would you give to someone considering going into the environment profession?
Do it! I have never looked back. Keep up to date with the industry through joining an organisation such as IEMA, attend events that interest you, network with other professionals and share best practice. And finally, be passionate about creating change and you will achieve it.
MSc environmental management, BSc environmental geography and international development
Researcher and sustainability campaigner, liftshare.com
Marine research assistant, working alongside the Fijian government’s fisheries department and the University of South Pacific
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