My career: Nicola Stopps

10th April 2015


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Training ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • Skills ,
  • Knowledge Centre

Author

Colin Patterson

Founder and director of Simply Sustainable

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

Having been brought up in rural Wales, my early life was intrinsically linked with the environment and the elements that can have an impact on it, be that the recession of the 1980s or changes in weather patterns. I passionately believe large organisations have the resources – financially and intellectually – to tackle some of the most significant environmental and social issues.

What was your first environment/sustainability job?

My first job after I graduated from my master’s was with SLR Consulting. It was a small environmental consultancy at the time, but growing fast. I was lucky; they gave me an opportunity to work on a variety of issues and trusted me to get a job done.

How did you get your first role?

I sent out more than a thousand speculative letters and CVs to environmental consultancies and got one reply. Luckily I got the job!

How did you progress your environment/sustainability career?

I always wanted to be smart with my career and ensure I kept as many doors open to me as possible. Hence, I have a good mix between consultancy and working in-house with large companies. Using the principles of environmental management – identify significant issues and tackle them methodically – I started developing corporate responsibility strategies and programmes for large firms. Undertaking these strategies in a scientific manner has set me apart and ensured their social and business impact is measured rigorously.

What does your current role involve?

In 2011, I founded Simply Sustainable, a sustainability and corporate responsibility consultancy. From the years of working in-house and employing consultants, I knew what good and bad consultancy looked like. My consultancy is extremely varied, working for companies such as Costa, EE, DHL, Manchester’s Airport Group, British American Tobacco and Interserve. In any one week, I may be conducting face-to-face stakeholder interviews, examining environmental trends across the globe, writing corporate social responsibility reports and developing an environmental strategy with a finance director.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

There is a growing acknowledgement that organisations need to be sustainable – that is future-proofed for wider trends such as climate change, population increase, and digitally enabled lifestyles. I am now working with my client’s strategy departments to understand how these will have an impact on their organisation.

What’s the best and hardest parts of your work?

Working with my clients and seeing them become more sustainable and responsible. We hear a lot about firms that are very developed in this area, but there are many large organisations that still find it challenging. Setting up the consultancy was not easy. To be candid, putting on the line the livelihood of my family was terrifying. I know keeping my stress levels down is essential to the success of my business. I run at least five miles a day to keep this at bay.

What was the last training course/event you attended and what did you bring back to your job?

A highly technical day on how the CRC, the EU emissions trading system and climate change agreements connect. I brought back a clear understanding of the different schemes and how they have changed.

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

Positivity and a wide-ranging knowledge of corporate responsibility and sustainability issues. This is what clients value.

Where do you see the environment/sustainability profession going?

A linear career path is a thing of the past. As a profession, we need to embrace and expect changing patterns of employment, such as part-time working and freelancing. We need to be prepared to adapt, otherwise we are going to have a vast resource of experienced and educated professions left out of the marketplace. Many institutions are out of step with this and treat freelancers and those who don’t choose a linear career as second-class citizens. I am passionate this should change.

Where would like to be in five years’ time?

Continuing to consult for my clients on sustainability and corporate responsibility matters.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

If I can give any advice for people starting in a new environmental role: walk into the office with a smile on your face, be the first to help out and learn – you should never stop learning.


Qualifications:

BA, MSc, AIEMA

Career history:

2011 to now founder and director, Simply Sustainable

2009–10 head of corporate responsibility, T-Mobile UK

2008–09 environmental consultant, AEA Technology

2008 corporate responsibility manager, T-Mobile UK

2007–08 director of sustainability, Travelodge

2004–07 environmental manager, DHL

2002–04 environmental coordinator, BBC

2000–02 environmental consultant, SLR Consulting

1999 environmental consultant, Watton Produce

1995–98 climate change research assistant, University of Exeter


Transform articles

UK green jobs set to offer better salaries than high-carbon roles

New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.

5th July 2021

Read more

New measures will require UK businesses to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and publish credible carbon reduction plans before they can bid for major government contracts.

7th June 2021

Read more

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has today been launched to support financial institutions and corporates in assessing and managing emerging risks and opportunities as the world looks to reverse biodiversity loss.

4th June 2021

Read more

The UK government's investment plans for green jobs lag far behind those of most G7 countries, potentially undermining its net-zero emissions target, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned.

2nd June 2021

Read more

Daisy Lavington shares the main talking points of a recent webinar concerning changing employment patterns in a post-COVID-19 world

28th May 2021

Read more

Ben Kite talks to Chris Seekings about how the UK’s skills gap threatens to undermine the country’s environmental ambitions

28th May 2021

Read more

At the end of March, the IEMA Working Group on Environmental Auditing launched The Value of Environmental Auditing: an IEMA Senior Management Briefing.

28th May 2021

Read more

Nearly half of workers would accept a lower salary to work for an organisation that is socially and environmentally responsible, a survey of over 14,000 consumers in nine countries has uncovered.

22nd April 2021

Read more

In Pearce v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for an order quashing the Secretary’s consent for the Vanguard wind farm.

26th March 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert