My career: Lucy Millard

13th October 2011

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Lucy Millard was looking to study for an environmental MSc when she found a job as an environmental coordinator in higher education

Lucy Millard, environment and sustainability officer at the University of ManchesterWhy did you become an environment professional?

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world and one day, walking through a city and having rubbish blowing in my face, I realised that I wanted to work in the environmental field.

What was your first environment job?

As part of my degree I spent a year working for E.ON UK in its environment and corporate responsibility department. I was given a lot of responsibility for a student, including implementing ISO 14001, and it was a tough introduction to the sector, but it confirmed that this is what I wanted to do with my life.

How did you get your first environment role?

During the final year of my degree I was searching for masters courses and came across the role at Oxford Brookes University by accident – I was actually more interested in further study than a job. Thanks to my placement at EO.N, I had relevant experience and was offered the job before I had even sat my finals.

How did you progress your environment career?

At Oxford Brookes I was covering maternity leave and as my contract came to an end I saw the job at the University of Manchester and thankfully was offered the role. While working at Manchester I’ve had the opportunity to study for an MSc, which has been hard work, but well worth it.

What does your current role involve?

The university is the biggest in the country, so it is akin to environment management for a whole town – we have homes, laboratories, offices, sports grounds, hotels, as well as specialist equipment found only in the institution. And, with more than 39,000 students and 11,000 staff, there is a lot to do. My role covers anything and everything to do with the environment, but recently I have been focused on carbon reduction and management plans.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

I was the first person in a dedicated environmental role at the university and my job has changed almost beyond recognition in three years. At first it was trying to understand what was happening and gain senior management support. Now we have plans and policies in place and it is a case of implementing them.

What’s the best part of your work?

Seeing changes in the behaviour of students after working with them. I meet students with no interest in the environment, but after a nine-month project I see their views change, which is very inspiring. Also, no two days are ever the same and I never quite know what will happen when I come into work. Working with academics who are experts in the field is also exciting as I get to see the latest research.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The ever changing population. With so many students joining the university each year it is a constant process of educating them about what we do and encouraging them to get involved. The size of the university also makes things more complicated.

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

A course on carbon footprinting held by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

What did you bring back to your job?

An appreciation of how complicated a proper life-cycle analysis is! The Higher Education Funding Council for England is about to place requirements on universities for scope 3 reporting, so the course really made me start to think about procurement.

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

Communication skills and a sense of determination. We can have as many policies and strategies as we like, but they’ll never be effective if we don’t have staff and students on board.

Where do you see the environment profession going?

Becoming more integrated instead of being seen as an add-on. As resources become scarcer, the profession will become increasingly important and will be looked to for answers.

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

Having conversations that don’t have to start with convincing people environment management is the right thing to do – it being accepted already.

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

Go for it! The job satisfaction is amazing and it is a lot of fun. Also, show initiative to improve your CV; volunteer to be an environment champion if they exist at your organisation, and, if not, set up your own scheme.

Career file:


BSc environmental management,
MSc environmental governance

2008 to now:

Environment and sustainability officer, University of Manchester


Environment coordinator, Oxford Brookes University


Environment and corporate responsibility trainee, E.ON UK

Tell us about your career

The “My career” page aims to inspire other environment professionals by showing how an individual has progressed her/his career. If you have a career story you’d like to share with your IEMA colleagues, please contact

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