My career: Lowellyne James

7th February 2013

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Lowellyne James describes how roles in quality and environment management have enabled him to move into academia and teach future environment managers

Why did you become an environment professional?

My interest in environment management systems (EMSs) began with the introduction of ISO 14001. I was working as a consultant at the time and a manufacturer client of mine decided to adopt the standard.

Although my role specifically involved the implementation of the company’s quality management system, I identified a need to reduce the waste being generated from operational processes and cut emissions of volatile organic compounds.

To improve my understanding of EMS, I then attended a seminar entitled “Understanding your corporate environmental responsibility”, which discussed the application of an EMS in waste and cost reduction.

How did you get your first environment role?

After pursuing a career in the Royal Navy, I returned to industry working as a service controller at Capital Cooling. The firm established a quality assurance role following an ISO 9001 audit and, as an experienced quality professional, I applied.

My initial efforts focused on the reinvigoration of the quality management system and, subsequently, I identified further areas for improvement, including training, safety and the environment.

A functional position of quality, safety and environmental manager was then created with the remit of ensuring the development of a “continuous improvement culture” and implementing a 14001-compliant EMS.

How did you progress your environment career?

To ensure I could fulfil my new role, I became an Associate of IEMA. This expanded my knowledge of environment management and, as a result, I was able to ensure my firm achieved 14001 certification, as well as winning the Scottish green award for best small business in 2010 and ACR News contractor of the year in 2011. I have also authored a number of articles on EMS and helped to found sustainability group for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.

What does your current role involve?

As a lecturer in quality management, purchasing and supply chains, I provide students with practical insights regarding the application of quality and environment management principles. I also work to provide thought leadership through my research and act as catalyst for cooperation between the Aberdeen Business School and professional institutes such as IEMA.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

In the past decade, the role of a quality manager has evolved to include environment and safety risk management. This is due to a proliferation of management standards such as ISO 50001 (energy management) and BS 25999 (business continuity), and the increasing requirement to report carbon footprint data as part of tender prequalification applications.

What’s the best part of your work?

Inspiring students to pursue careers in quality, safety and the environment.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The biggest challenge lies in how to bring a practitioner’s perspective to the teaching of management theory.

What was the last event you attended?

The 2012 world production and operations management conference.

What did you bring back to your job?

The presentations on greenhouse-gas emissions reporting provided insight into new techniques and approaches that can be applied by smaller businesses.

Where do you see the profession going?

Increasingly, environment professionals will be required to assist senior management with the incorporation of sustainability and social responsibility in business strategies. This shift from operational concerns to wider strategic issues will increase as organisations extend the agent-principal concept to include not only stakeholders, but also global society.

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

I hope to have become a professor in management and to have secured a non-executive director role at a thriving organisation.

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

Pursue a programme of continuous learning and seek rewarding career opportunities that will enhance your overall professional development.

How do you use IEMA’s environmental skills map?

As a burgeoning academic I use the map to identify gaps in my existing knowledge and reveal where I can sharpen existing skills. The map is a mirror that reflects where I am today and highlights opportunities for future development.

Career file


AIEMA, MBA, chartered quality professional, member of CMI, graduate member of IOSH and member of IIRSM

Career history:

2012 to now Lecturer in quality management, purchasing and supply chains, Aberdeen Business School
2009–2012 Quality safety and environmental manager, Capital Cooling
2007–2009 Service controller, Capital Cooling
2001–2007 Policeman, Royal Navy
2000–2001 Consultant, Ropeworks
1999–2000 Quality assurance officer, National Training Agency
1996–1998 Consultant, Advance Foam
1995–1998 Quality assurance supervisor, Amins Manufacturing

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