Hello Matt – tell us about a typical day in Air Quality at REC.
As an Air Quality team, we do a lot of work for property developers, other promoters and planners so a mixture of computer modelling and reporting on atmospheric emissions from things like road traffic, local power generation units and industrial stacks. The majority of our work is desk based but we do get to site to carry out pollutant and odour surveys or through visiting clients’ project sites. I spend a lot of time with existing and new clients, understanding and responding to their service needs, as well as delivering continuous professional development workshops and training which is an important task as we continue to grow the team.
What is your experience in the environmental consultancy sector?
I have spent my entire career in the consultancy sector. I started in Air Quality and EIA working on schemes across Greater London and working for some of the big PLC consultancies. A secondment to Crossrail moved me into the construction industry for a couple of years looking at how to mitigate diesel engine emissions from on-site plant machinery. I have also been involved in the Power and Oil and Gas sectors which took me out to the Middle East for 4 years. There is a different set of air quality challenges out there which was fascinating. I moved back to the UK and returned to Greater London last year which lead me to join a new challenge working at REC at the beginning of this year.
Are there any projects you’re working on at the moment that are particularly interesting?
Most of our projects have something that makes them unique and interesting: design considerations in relation to air quality, residential locations situated near to industrial land uses, as well as increasing scrutiny and awareness of air quality issues which all add complexity and require considered thought in our advice to clients. Right now we are working on an environmental permit for the Francis Crick Institute – the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe, based in North London. I actually completed the air quality assessment for the initial planning application years ago. It’s a great building, concept and design and it’s a pleasure to the working on the project again. It does require some fairly complex air quality modelling and we have a great air quality team to rise to the challenge.
What makes REC different?
Apart from the great colleagues I have discovered over the last few months, I was initially attracted by the small and agile approach to consultancy that REC has combined with ambitions to grow. I am now seeing those ambitions being put into practice.
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Client Focused Growth.
How do you stay connected within the industry?
I am now a Chartered Environmentalist through the Institute of Environmental Science (IES). This is my main source of connecting through events, seminars and workshops. I would recommend affiliating with a professional body to any new environmental consultants to help continue professional development. I also keep up with past colleagues through informal get togethers. It’s wonderful to see us progress through our careers and even working on the same projects, sometimes from different sides of the table.
What advice would you give to people wanting to start a career in the environmental sector?
Be passionate about your subject matter and the issues around it but remain pragmatic in your approach. As a consultant you have to wear many hats in order to remain client focused and maintain a successful business.
What gets you up in the morning?
I have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old so I don’t need alarm clocks. But seriously, I see Air Quality as an important issue in modern society and one that needs attention. I see my career as doing something positive to improve the current situation, with a hope that our service assists in designing out and overcoming air quality issues for future developments.