Diana (Di) Clark
What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,001 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I work as a freelance ecological consultant, carrying out surveys, assessing the results, and providing advice to clients based on those results, for a range of projects across South Wales. Many of these projects relate to planning applications, which often require mitigation and/or protected species licensing as well, but I also provide habitat management advice and surveys for NGOs where needed.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I love the fact that no day is the same – every hour, week, month, and season is different. I never get bored with my job and there is always something new to do, sites to see, people to meet and organisations to advise and persuade to do the right thing. I love too getting out and about and not being stuck in an office all the time – back-to-back days in front of a computer are my biggest dislike, followed by occasional challenging clients.
What inspired you into this career?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one thing in particular, but I have always had an affinity for the natural world and spending time out of doors. I’d like to think that as an independent consultant ecologist, I can be part of making sure it is treated and managed in the best possible way for everyone to enjoy, now and in the future.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
Absolutely, there are challenges and barriers everywhere. Probably the first thing I struggled with was gaining a driving license. I came from a background where my parents couldn’t afford to put me through lessons as a teenager, so I did it later in my early twenties, whilst dealing with soaring debt and doing poorly paid temp jobs just to get by. It was a real barrier to getting a job in ecology and definitely held me back in the early days. I was also unlucky in my first consultancy job which was with a poorly run company, and in subsequent jobs in relation to promotion and support to progress. But… I’m still doing it, 20 years later, so some things came right in the end.
What education/training did you have?
I had a pretty bog standard comprehensive secondary school education, followed by A-levels completed at sixth form. I didn’t start out thinking I’d get into ecology, so my A-levels were actually in English Literature, Ancient History, General Studies and… Biology, as a kind of afterthought really. I then did a BSc in Environmental Biology at Swansea University, followed by an MSc in Plant Diversity (Vegetation Survey and Assessment) at Reading University, after a year in work.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Perseverance and tenacity are key. Also, if you don’t have a driving licence already, I’d strongly advise you to prioritise getting this in the bag if you can. Do your research and ask questions wherever and however you are able. We are a friendly community and lots of people will give you advice and support. Remember most people took random routes into this profession, so don’t worry if your background doesn’t fit the ‘mould’ – truly, there isn’t a standard one!