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Working lives

Route to the job After completing a BSc in civil engineering at Leeds University, I started work with Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners in its geotechnical department. This led to my working on several overseas projects, including an embankment dam in Tanzania and a number of road schemes in southern and eastern Africa.

I came back to the UK in 1987 and got a job with Allott & Lomax in Manchester, doing a lot of site investigation work. I also got involved, for the first time, in work on contaminated land.

I then joined Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick, working for the firm in the UK and overseas. My role included working on the design of several contaminated land remediation schemes in Sheffield.

In 1993 I joined Derbyshire County Council on a contract basis and spent five years in the land reclamation section working on projects such as Derby's massive Pride Park scheme, and important site investigation and bioremediation trials on coking plant lagoons at Grassmoor.

In 1998, after successfully completing a part-time MBA at Bradford University, I joined WS Atkins, where I was responsible for a team carrying out contaminated land and other environmental work.

Expectations I joined ERM six months ago, having decided that I wanted to develop my career in the environmental consultancy field.

ERM has a strong blue chip client base, and I was keen to work with these sorts of companies.

My challenge was two-fold, to build up the firm's site investigation and remediation team in Manchester, and to expand its workload in the North.

The reality It's still early days and I'm learning a great deal about the culture and ethos of the company. ERM's work represents good or best practice thanks, in large part, to it being so focused on the needs of private sector clients.

Such clients judge value on a consultant's ability to meet business objectives and act as client advocates, rather than on price alone.

Advice People with limited experience who would like to work in the environmental management sector should try to get into a company with a strong and multi-disciplinary environmental team.

Environmental management is a fast changing and exciting sector that's not yet codified; it needs people who can understand the basic concepts but can think for themselves.

It is also wise to keep abreast of technical and regulatory developments. Use the internet, attend conferences and meetings and read the relevant journals.

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