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 manage a mid-sized consultancy comprising of 17 ecologists and 3 admin staff. I juggle this with a determination to stay active in the field, leading on bat surveys and botanical assessments, whilst providing support to the wider team on a range of surveys, impact assessments and biodiversity etc.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I love the diversity of the work and it is a job where you will never stop learning. It is an opportunity to have a vocation and that is something I see so many other people lack in their careers. The mixture of field-based and desk-based work provides a mixture of work that keeps me active and challenges me mentally.
The things I dislike are the stresses and strains that can come with cramming surveys into often short survey windows. In the past I have worked some crazy long hours (though this is all fairly self-inflicted, being self-employed), but I see movement away from the long hours that were very normal earlier in my career.
What inspired you into this career?
A love of nature and the outdoors. Undoubtedly David Attenborough had a big influence on me growing up and I can’t recall wanting any career other than ‘working with nature’.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
I was made redundant in 2009 just after the financial crash and with little work going, I ended up setting up as a sole trader. Making just enough money in that first year to get by was difficult, but that was the spark that led to me eventually setting up my own company.
In the early years, working independently without the support of a team and ecologists with more experience than me (I was not quite at senior level at the time) was a challenge. Senior support in career development is so valuable.
What education/training did you have?
I have a BSc in Environment, Economics and Ecology. Subsequently I have taken heaps of training since, in a variety of survey techniques, guidance on impact assessments, Biodiversity Net Gain, habitats assessments, etc, etc.
In my first three years I learned a lot from colleagues I worked with and ‘learning on the job’ was a really effective way for me to develop further.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Ecologists are hard workers and take pride in what they do. There is a lot of competition for places when entering the profession, so make sure you show the passion you have for nature. I would certainly recommend doing plenty of background work on what the role entails and be prepared for some hard truths about working hours and what mitigation entails. Development will happen with or without us – we can just do our best to push for good outcomes under the policy and legislation we have.