What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£40,001 – £50,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I lead on biodiversity for Scottish Forestry, a relatively new Scottish Government agency that provides technical support to ministers and acts as the forestry regulator. I have a varied role that includes providing support to ministers, helping to shape and develop policy on woodland management, provision of guidance for operational staff, representing Scottish Forestry on steering groups and with other government bodies, and stakeholder engagement.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I like that I have an opportunity to shape the direction of land management in Scotland, to bring pragmatism to our work. The chance to influence how we look after the environment is rare and I am honoured to be a part of it.
It can be difficult to manage my own expectations on time scale and methods, as the role is more about influencing others than direct action, which is a real shift from my previous roles.
What inspired you into this career?
I’ve always been conscientious about the natural environment, pollution, and climate change. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t picking up litter, pestering my parents to recycle, or watching wildlife. As I excelled in science, it made sense to look at what I was passionate about most for a career. While I loved learning, and I briefly considered continuing to PhD, I realised my real interest lay in applied ecology. I wanted to make a difference on the ground, providing people with the resources and the answers they needed to make daily decisions. I wanted to learn as much as possible in the real world, hands dirty, in the challenging conditions most people who work to preserve the natural world do.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
My first professional role after completing my Masters was for an engineering firm providing ecological support to my civil engineering colleagues. As a very male-dominated company I did struggle with having a voice, agency, and support as a professional woman. But the experience taught me much about engagement with others who have completely different views to me.
As an immigrant, I did also need to make extra effort to learn about the plant and animal species found in the UK as I didn’t grow up here. People can take for granted the familiarity of their common trees, for example, but it’s made me look differently at habitats and I think provided perspective.
What education/training did you have?
I did my BA in Environmental Studies, in the US (Bucknell University), complimented by History and Philosophy Minors. I then spent 5 years travelling around the world and when I stopped in New Zealand I stayed longer to work at the Department of Conservation, eventually enrolling in their Conservation Corps training programme for young people. I returned to Scotland to complete my MSc Environmental Management at Stirling University. Of course as we all know, to really build up skills and knowledge, time spent volunteering and with local wildlife groups is invaluable; and I tried as many as I could reach. I coupled that with the opportunities CIEEM afforded me, as I joined while still working on my MSc.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Be open-minded to all opportunities. While in hindsight it looks like I made deliberate steps to the career position I am in now, in reality I just made decisions based on opportunities presented to me at the time. All experience is a chance to learn a new skill, even when working with difficult people or in challenging situations. It is also important to maintain active listening, understand that while other people may not be as passionate about nature as you, you can find common ground.
Tags: Public Sector, Forestry, Policy, Scotland