My career: Peter Bragg

9th August 2013


Author

IEMA

Peter Bragg describes how he moved from being a consultant into working in the railway sector and gained his current role as Eurostar's head of environment and energy

Why did you become an environment professional?

I have been passionate about the countryside and preserving it since childhood. I wanted to have a career that helped businesses to operate sustainably, responsibly and efficiently.

What was your first environment job?

I worked for a small consultancy in Baldock, Hertfordshire, mainly assisting large automotive clients, such as Ford, to implement ISO 14001.

How did you get your first environment role?

I enjoyed the environmental management part of my degree the most and decided that I wanted to specialise in this area after graduation. Although I considered studying for a master’s degree, I was keen to start work and build my career. A few speculative CVs later, I landed a role in a small, local consultancy with a fantastic client list.

How did you progress your career?

After a few years working in consultancy, I decided to work in-house for a business. When a role came up at Network Rail (then, Railtrack), I jumped at it. Although I hadn’t worked in the railway industry before, it struck me as a fascinating sector with big challenges and opportunities. Twelve years later, I am still in the sector and feel privileged to work for Eurostar; one of the best known train companies in Europe and one with a reputation for ambition, innovation and progress in delivering sustainability.

What does your current role involve?

As head of the environment and energy team at Eurostar, I am responsible for “Tread Lightly”, our sustainability and carbon reduction programme. It covers carbon emissions reduction, sustainable procurement, waste and recycling, as well as managing relationships with key partners, such as Ashden, with whom we partnered last year to launch an annual sustainable travel award for organisations in Belgium, France and the UK.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

Although customer interest in sustainability remains strong, and delivering a sustainable, low-carbon product continues to be a large part of my role, there has been a shift in focus towards making our wider business operations as efficient as possible. This is why we’ve worked hard over the past year to measure the carbon footprint of our entire organisation and identify opportunities to cut our emissions.

What’s the best part of your work?

It’s great to be working for a business that not only provides a sustainable product, but that truly cares about its environmental impact.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Over the past few years, consumer engagement in environmental issues has declined, as the economic climate across Europe has deteriorated. The constant challenge of my job is to ensure that my company’s sustainability practices continue to inspire our customers.

What was the last training/event you attended?

With Eurostar’s strong reputation in this area, I am regularly asked to speak at events and conferences. These are great opportunities to share our work and to learn from businesses in other sectors.

What are the most important skills for your role and why?

Patience, influence and confidence – it is important to remember that not everyone is as passionate about sustainability as you, or has it at the top of their job description. You have to build relationships, articulate your business case and share success.

Where do you see the environment profession going?

I see it increasingly becoming part of the core business, rather than something shouted from the rooftops to customers. It will continue to be an important part of delivering resource efficiency and sustainable business benefits.

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

Hopefully, I will still be working for Eurostar in this or a similar role, helping the business lead sustainable travel practices.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

They must be persistent, passionate and confident. It’s an incredibly tough environment for graduates, so they need to make their CVs stand out and they can’t let knock-backs deter them. Ultimately, it’s a great industry and a rewarding profession to be in, so it’s worth the effort to get your first job.

Despite some negative press, I believe that the profession has a bright future in helping businesses and society navigate an economically and environmentally sustainable path through future challenges. Irrespective of the debate around man-made climate change, there are numerous good reasons for developing a sustainable future, whether it is delivering energy independence, better health, great cities or protecting the planet.

Career file

Qualifications:

AIEMA, BSc in applied environmental science, postgraduate award in business leadership, diploma in corporate governance

Career history:

  • 2010 to now Head of environment and energy, Eurostar International
  • 2001–2010 Senior environment manager, Network Rail
  • 1999–2001 Consultant, Entec UK
  • 1997–1999 Consultant, EMC

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