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A passion to protect the environment and raise awareness

Author: Jennifer Pollard, Chartered Environmentalist

Thanks for taking the time to talk about your role. So, where did it all start?
From a young age I was interested in animals and the environment so chose biology, chemistry and maths as my A-Level subjects. I was over the moon when I secured a place at the University of Liverpool to study Marine Biology. After graduating in 2007 I joined the then consultancy, Rhead Group (acquired by Costain in 2015), as an environmental advisor.

What kind of work did you get involved in early on in your career?
I was fortunate to be given responsibility on a range of client projects immediately such as working for National Grid and Wales and West Utilities. As well as a day to day client facing role, I regularly contributed to bidding activity in addition to managing a team of environmental advisors.

Was there a project you were particularly passionate about?
Between 2012 and 2016 I was solely responsible for the completion and submission of the carbon disclosure project. I established a format for capturing data and calculating the company’s scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions to establish an accurate baseline for the first submission. I then had to present this data at the monthly board meetings. I enjoyed being an active participant in these meetings, contributing new ideas and methods for implementation.

Can you share the journey you have been on to get ready for the chartership application?
It has been a long one! I first discussed working towards my chartership in 2009. You are required to obtain a number of ‘units’ to complete your application and these are obtained through additional qualifications and experience on the job. I enrolled on a distance learning masters degree (Environmental Management - Landscape and Wildlife Conservation) at Sheffield Hallam University and graduated in 2011. I continued to gain hands on experience working on a variety of client projects and ISO4001 audits as well as supporting sustainable construction innovations. An additional requirement is to be a member of a professional body so I completed an application and report to the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management which was accepted.

We understand the chartership path is a three-stage process. How long did it take you to complete?
That’s right – seeing as I started this journey in 2014 I’m extremely happy to be able to have completed the process. Stage one was the most straightforward. I had to submit details of my education and professional experience to confirm that I met the necessary qualifying criteria. I started this in 2015 but had to stop as I had nine months on maternity leave with my first child. I continued with the application in 2018 after returning to work and getting back into the routine of my day to day role. Stage two was slightly more challenging as I had to submit my current CV and compile a 2,500 word report demonstrating competence through hands on project experience. The final stage was then a 60 minute professional review interview with two practicing environmental professionals who are also chartered. Off the back of that I was successfully awarded chartership.

Well done! So what does it mean to be a chartered environmentalist?
Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) is the highest level of professional qualification available to environmental practitioners. CEnv recognise the high level of professionalism and competence of individuals working in environmental fields. Chartered environmentalists are drawn from no single profession and can work across industry, government, education and the public sector.

Chartered environmentalists must:

  • Have a clear understanding of and be able to demonstrate sustainability
  • Use knowledge of the environment to further the aims of sustainable development
  • Analyse and evaluate problems from an environmental perspective, and develop practical sustainable solutions
  • Demonstrate leadership in sustainable management of the environment
  • Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment.

Final question: What’s next for Jennie?
My current project is for National Grid and my role involves the establishment of robust relationships and communication with a wide range of stakeholders, including the client, regulatory authorities, third parties and contractors. Working as a part of a small team, I manage the environmental aspects of a diverse range of construction, maintenance and demolition projects across the UK from conceptual design to reinstatement.

A key responsibility that I hold in this role is to produce tenders and review tender submissions. Furthermore, I lead on developing and monitoring environmental targets and objectives by creating systems to track the teams’ progress.

Another key part of my daily role is to plan and undertake audits and inspections by following a risk-based approach which allows for trend analysis of the findings and more targeted inspections.

Finally, I am responsible for completing applications and reviewing the applications of others in my team to obtain Natural England/Natural Resources Wales/Scottish Natural Heritage Assent and European Protected Species Licences, as well as managing the project against any conditions of that assent during the complex delivery phase.

My next big project however is another baby, so I will be handing over to my colleagues very soon to look after the latest addition to the family. I’m most proud of being able to juggle work, career development and my family which has been made possible by the people and team I work in.