My career: Lucy Candlin

7th July 2016

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  • Skills ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • Training


Duncan McLaren

Director, Planet & Prosperity

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

By accident! I originally planned to be a doctor, but that didn’t work out and Manchester University’s policy of passing applicants onto other science departments led to a degree in botany and ecology. When I look back, that was actually the right place to be. As a small child growing up in the inner city, I was always playing with wildlife on the waste ground and doing things ‘horticultural’ in my dad’s small garden.

What was your first environment/sustainability job?

I was appointed as technical assistant to the Knowsley council ecologist. But the ecologist post did not immediately get filled, so I ended up working on maintenance and management plans with the team responsible for land and landscape management of the council’s land holdings.

How did you get your first role?

Probably through a job advert in the Guardian, which even back then had a reputation on environmental matters.

How did you progress your environment/sustainability career?

I did a lot of voluntary practical conservation work with BTCV when working at the council. I got a job with them working on the Stoke-on-Trent Garden Festival and with volunteers in Staffordshire on a range of projects, which gave me practical skills in, management systems and people/project management. I was asked to join the Groundwork Trust by its founding director, and this experience led to the job with Aspinwall & Company and an opportunity for a four-month secondment to Singapore – I came back 4.5 years later. I joined KPMG at the time that environmental reporting and, in particular, GHG emissions accounting were just getting started so I’ve seen that evolve and become standardised. Since leaving KPMG, I have started two boutique consultancy businesses, delivering a range of activities based on my skill set. Currently I am involved in emissions accounting and climate change risk management.

What does your current role involve?

Providing support to clients on environmental and sustainability risk management, including developing and evolving management systems based on ISO 14001 and other standards; emissions accounting and assurance; advising regulators and governments on monitoring, reporting and verifications; and verifier accreditation and training both in Europe and internationally.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

Not significantly. I have been independent since 2003, so the role hasn’t changed but the nature of the work and standards has evolved over time depending on the needs of clients for advice and assistance.

What’s the best part of your work?

Meeting new people, learning new things and seeing organisations start to get to grips with their sustainability issues by integrating them into their activities.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Persuading some clients that this is core to organisational governance and not just a ‘badge on the wall’ to meet contract requirements.

What was the last training course/event you attended?

The Energy Institute’s level 1 Certificate in Energy Management to support my qualification as an ESOS lead assessor.

What did you bring back to your job?

Better understanding of the practical aspects and technologies underpinning energy accounting and audit.

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

Moving beyond being ‘the specialist’ in an organisation and integrating our skills and experience into other functions, such as R&D, procurement and HR, etc. We need all the other functions to understand and integrate management of environmental risks/opportunities that relate to their area so that they can help move their organisations to a position of resilience.

Where would like to be in five years’ time?

Living off grid and really practising some of what I have been preaching for 30 years.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Do not assume you have to be the ‘specialist’; look at wider opportunities across a range of different functions and bring your environmental enthusiasm and skills to bear to change approaches and behaviours.

How do you use IEMA’s environmental skills map?

With mentees and applicants for Full IEMA membership, as well as with clients when we are discussing training needs and embedding environmental sustainability skills/understanding in their workforce.

Career file


BSc, MSc, C.Env, IEMA Fellow

Career history:

2010 to now director, Planet & Prosperity

2003 to 2010 director/principal adviser, Future Perfect

2000 to 2003 manager, sustainability advisory services, KPMG

1997 to 2000 director/principal consultant, Enviros Singapore Pte

1996 to 1997 senior consultant, Aspinwall Clouston Pte, Singapore

1993 to 1996 senior consultant, corporate environmental affairs, Aspinwall & Company

1988 to 1993 projects director/acting executive director/deputy director/projects manager, Black Country Groundwork Trust

1985 to 1988 senior field officer/regional training and development officer, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers

1984 to 1985 technical assistant (ecology), Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council


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