What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
Please describe the work that you do.
I provide ecological impact assessments for infrastructure projects – meaning that I assess the effects on development like roads, electricity lines, railways, and water supply systems on wildlife and habitats. I help designers and clients find the best way to build essential infrastructure whilst minimizing or avoiding negative effects on the natural world around us.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I love working with lots of other professionals – engineers, archaeologists, acousticians, and many more. Everyone approaches a project in a slightly different way. The best projects involve us all working together and thinking a little bit outside our own ‘box’ to provide the best solution for a development.
It can be challenging to get others to understand the importance of engaging ecologists in good time, especially as everything an ecologist does is driven by the seasons – but that keeps me on my toes!
What inspired you into this career?
I’ve always liked animals and wildlife, and found a lot of inspiration in being outdoors.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
I’ve always been more interested in trying out new types of projects than in climbing the career ladder. It can be challenging to find a good variety of projects sometimes, but I’ve managed to work on electricity projects, railways, schools, hospitals, roads, reservoirs, coal-mine restorations, sewerage systems, flood alleviation projects, and many more.
One big challenge has been in working long hours – fieldwork and meeting client deadlines can be hugely tricky. The important thing is to learn that it’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes.
What education/training did you have?
I did a BSc in Zoology and then a PhD in Environmental Biology and Ecology. But that gave me a basic grounding – I’ve learned far more ‘on the job’ and in professional training courses since.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Be prepared to work hard – but do make sure you’re enjoying it too. There are lots of opportunities to move ‘sideways’ as well as ‘up’ as an ecologist or environmental manager. Try and get as much practical experience as you can early on in your career and don’t feel like you need to make a decision on whether to be a park ranger, a GIS analyst, a bat specialist, an aquatic ecologist, or an Ecological Clerk of Works too early on.