How long have you worked at Clarkson & Woods?
I came to Clarkson & Woods just over 18 months ago as a Senior Ecologist, but this is rather misleading because I also worked here many years ago between 2012 and 2017. I re-joined the company last year because my experience was so positive. I was very glad to see so many familiar faces on my first day and was surprised how much the team had grown and matured into new areas. Before becoming an ecologist, I completed a BSc in Environmental Biology at the University of Wales, Bangor. However, it was my Masters in Biological Recording at Birmingham University that really drove me towards a career in ecology and biodiversity. The modules were more practical and weighted in favour of natural history. It felt wonderful to escape the confines of a dark laboratory in favour of a sunny wildflower meadow. I also worked as a planning officer at East Devon Council. I distinctly remember assessing someone’s application for a barn extension and recall reviewing an ecological assessment for the first time. The report explained in detail how they searched for evidence of roosting bats and barn owls like a detective. This was my first introduction to the profession. It was so much more aligned with my own interests, and I couldn’t quite believe someone could actually make a living searching for wildlife. My colleague asked, “would that be your dream job then?”, and I responded, “I didn’t even know it was a job”. By 2017 I’d already been working in consultancy for almost a decade so decided to take a break on a fixed-term position at The Bat Conservation Trust. I found both experiences very rewarding for different reasons.
What do you enjoy most about working here at Clarkson & Woods?
If I could single out one element, it would be working with the Clarkson & Woods team who’ve chosen to settle here over the years. It’s a team very much built on a passion for wildlife within a culture of trust and mutual respect. I’ve worked for several companies during my career and learned this should never be taken for granted. Every commercial ecologist knows that working with plants and animals isn’t as cute and cuddly as friends and family may think. Our work can be highly stressful and demanding, but our team always look out for each other. Day-to-day challenges can be overcome so much more smoothly when there’s a strong support network in place. Ecology is a huge area of expertise with so much to learn, and it’s very humbling being surrounded by such knowledgeable and passionate staff. Rarely a day goes by where I don’t have some query about badger behaviour, grassland management or planning policy; but there’s always someone who’ll not only know the answer but also take the time to go through it with me, and I think this is invaluable.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m very lucky to have found a career where my interests (the great outdoors, animals, keeping active) are so aligned with my day job. I live in East Devon and love taking long treks along the coast whilst getting immersed in some audiobook or podcast. I’m not sure I could have survived last year’s heat wave without the option to cool off with a swim in my local bay. The wildlife isn’t bad either, with beavers, nightjars, and dormice all practically on my doorstep (only last week I discovered a bat maternity roost outside my back door). I’ve been trying to get into wildlife photography, but outdoor landscapes are more my thing and there’s something quite contemplative about setting up a shot and just waiting there for the light to be just right. I enjoy trail running and was proud to have completed the Cheddar Gorge Marathon a few years ago. Although I mostly travel in the UK, I’m looking forward to seeing Lisbon later this year and last year I was lucky enough to take a trip to Morocco and climb Mount Toubkal.