Sharon Lashley describes how she has moved into a consultancy role with a focus on helping firms to install renewable energy technologies
Why did you become an environment professional?
I’ve always had an interest in the environment, particularly climate change and water use, and I’m involved in a lot of voluntary activities around these issues. It was this passion for the environment that drove me to pursue a career as an environment professional.
What was your first environment job?
How did you get your first environment role?
I was working in a customer services role and was offered the opportunity to become involved in the management of the firm’s EMS.
How did you progress your environment career?
While working for the packaging business, I undertook an environment management NVQ as well as qualifications in carbon footprinting and auditing. I then moved into the regeneration sector, where I managed environment education programmes and services that helped firms to improve their environmental performance. I then qualified as a trainer and completed a course on the economics of climate change and renewables. These qualifications enabled me to move into the renewable energy sector as a consultant and adviser.
What does your current role involve?
I provide support to firms across a variety of projects, from 14001 implementation and waste minimisation to identifying opportunities for investing in renewable energy. It also involves the project management of installing and running renewables, such as solar photovoltaic systems, and delivering environment awareness training.
How has your role changed over the past few years?
My role has been enhanced greatly through my training in renewable energy. This new area of expertise has enabled me to offer a more comprehensive service to my clients and to identify financial benefits, via the feed-in tariff for example, as well as resource management savings.
What’s the best part of your work?
Having the opportunity to carry out energy audits, implement 14001 and recommend renewable technologies for clients. I really enjoy completing projects; seeing the renewables installed and knowing the clients are benefiting both financially and environmentally.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
I don’t really consider any element of my job as being difficult as there is a solution for everything – it’s just a case of being a good problem solver and having a methodical approach to any challenge!
What was the last development/training course/event you attended?
I’ve just completed a course on domestic energy awareness and I’m finalising my portfolio to become qualified to complete energy performance certificate assessments for domestic properties.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role, and why?
My ability to engage with my customers – it’s really important to be able to work across all sectors and target audiences.
Where do you see the environment profession going?
I’d like to see the profession continue to grow in importance, cementing the brilliant work we all deliver. I’m also extremely keen for us to focus on addressing better water management.
Where would like to be in five years’ time?
Still working in this sector, delivering a valuable service to businesses and installing more renewables. I hope that we, as a planet, will be less reliant on fossil fuels and that I, as an individual, will be continuing to live as an ecowarrior!
What advice would you give to someone considering entering the profession?
Train in the fundamentals of environment management and register with IEMA as a sign of your commitment to professional standards. Embrace the profession, as it is a truly rewarding one that can provide so much diversity and interest. It’s also worth considering training in renewable technologies as they will form a valuable part of our future.
How do you use IEMA’s environmental skills map?
The map is a really valuable tool to understand my current knowledge and skills, and to identify any gaps and how these can be addressed. Having worked in the environment sector for more than a decade I am now working on becoming a Full IEMA member and IEMA’s skills map is helping me to achieve that.
AIEMA, NVQ level IV in environment management, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health approved trainer
Feb 2012 to now Project consultant, Jayvee Renewables
2010–2012 Project manager, Community Energy Solutions
2004–2010 Regional programme coordinator, Groundwork North East
2001–2004 Environment officer, Sotralentz