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 work as the in-house ecology specialist for a renewable energy developer. In my role, I provide technical advice on ecology matters to colleagues, review scope and approach to surveys submitted by consultants, review reports, sit in on project calls with consultants and stakeholders. I also work with the community benefit team on biodiversity projects in the areas local to projects and am working with them on engaging in biodiversity for business and nature-positive initiatives.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I absolutely love my job. It is great having support from the senior management to explore opportunities for research into key topics for onshore wind development and I sit on internal and external working groups that look to increase the opportunities to protect, retain, restore and enhance biodiversity as part of onshore renewable development. I really love the team I work with, I am treated with genuine respect for my knowledge and experience by everyone and my advice is listened to. The team seem to genuinely appreciate the benefit that an in-house specialist can bring when tendering work or reviewing documents.
What inspired you into this career?
I worked as a consultant from 2000 to April 2022 and was genuinely exhausted from consultancy so when the opportunity arose to work in the developer team I jumped at it. Working in onshore renewables since approximately 2008, I have always loved the challenges presented by such development plus the bonus of doing work that contributes to producing clean energy. I saw working with the developer as an opportunity to influence policy and to raise the standard and quality of impact assessments prepared for onshore renewable developments in Ireland.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
The main challenges as a woman have been having children and picking up my career afterwards. Ecological consultancy is on the whole becoming more corporate and having children meant my progression was slower as each time I returned to work after a baby I had lost time that male counterparts had not so they typically were promoted ahead of me. I was also less able to be flexible and change plans at very short notice unlike male counterparts.
What education/training did you have?
I hold a BSc (Hons) in Earth Sciences from University College Cork, Ireland and an MSc in Vegetation Survey and Assessment from the University of Reading, UK. I also hold an Advanced Diploma in Planning and Environmental Law from Kings Inns, Dublin, Ireland.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
I would tell them to learn early on to set boundaries between work and home life and to make sure they don’t fall into bad habits such as constantly working evenings and weekends. We are ecologists not brain surgeons and nobody will die if we don’t get something finished so go home on time and take your time off to properly relax. I’d also say that being a field ecologist does necessitate some long hours and long drives, but it is a necessary part of your evolution into a well-rounded ecologist.