Emma Hatchett | Head of Ecology | WSP

Welcome to the latest ‘Inside The Industry’ interview from Ecology Jobs. Today we’re speaking with Emma Hatchett, Head of Ecology at WSP. If you’d like to be featured, we’d love to hear from you! Click here for more information. 

Why do you work as an ecologist?

I woke up one day when I was around 14 and somehow knew I wanted to work in the ecology sector, I have always had a passion for the outdoors and an avid interest in wildlife. But, back then I had no idea that ecological consultancy existed and thought I would work for a conservation organisation such as The Wildlife Trusts.

Entering university to read Environmental Biology at Oxford Brookes led me closer to a greater variety of careers in ecology and consultancy. I have always wanted to make a difference and in consultancy, help to ensure that developments are done in the right way to protect and enhance biodiversity.

What are the main activities in your current role?

In my current role, I am lucky enough to be able to shape the development and growth of our team. WSP works on a lot of large-scale schemes and these come with complexities but also come with the ability to employ innovative design both in the collection of data and the development of scheme design. A big part of my role is to help facilitate this innovation across the team to present the best results for biodiversity.

Another big part of my role, and a part I am passionate about, is the development of our team through training, both formally and informally. This leads into clear pathways for progression, which needs to start early in any one person’s career. I have been offered some amazing opportunities in my career and I want to be able to give similar opportunities to those in my team.

Aside from seeing great outcomes for biodiversity and through staff development, I really enjoy solving complex problems for our clients! It really gets my brain fired up and reminds me why I got into this industry in the first place!

What is it like to work for your organisation?

Working for WSP, no one day is the same as the last. The work is challenging but the large schemes give the breadth of space to think outside of the box, which provides greater freedom and allows for innovation.

I have worked in a mix of organisations throughout my career and have found the autonomy and trust in my experience and expertise to be greatest at WSP. I have gained a huge amount of experience at WSP and have been able to impart some of that to those around me. Our team is fantastic and in my role as Head of Ecology, I have the support of a group of individuals who create a huge hive-mind of support and knowledge – I could not wish for a better team or environment in which to work and grow!

What careers advice would you give someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?

My one piece of advice to those coming into the industry or in the first stages of their careers would be to see opportunities everywhere and take those opportunities, even if it feels like a leap of faith! I have worked hard (and in ecology, it is hard work, especially during the height of the survey season) but I have also taken a lot of opportunities when they have arisen, taken a punt or too or had a go to see if things work out and I feel this has been the biggest factor in my success to date.

When I look for new staff, particularly looking at our seasonal intake each year, I am looking for enthusiasm, willingness to have a go and initiative above all else. If you can take some time to get involved with local wildlife groups, read around the subject and immerse yourselves in the world around you all of this will stand you in good stead!

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