Stuart W.

Land Management Advisor
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Stuart W.
Environment
Environmental Science
Undergraduate
Vanbrugh
United Kingdom

My employment

Land Management Advisor
Natural England
United Kingdom
Environment and energy
Large business (250+ employees)
2015

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A day in the life of a Land Management Advisor in the United Kingdom

What I do

I was hired to support the implementation of the new EU funded agri-environment scheme - Countryside Stewardship, which provides funding for farmers and landowners in return for targeted work to deliver environmental outcomes.

My post is incredibly varied and no two days are the same. One day I can be in the York office analysing data and the next on a windswept hillside taking soil samples for new applications to the scheme. The main focus of my job is the 'aftercare' process, whereby I speak to farmers over the phone or face to face on farm visits to check they are happy with their agreements and that the indicators of success are evident, and they are delivering the desired environmental outcomes.

I work across the Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire region and have regular meetings and site visits to attend, though as an organisation we are keen to utilise technology, so often hold teleconferences and webinars to avoid the cost and environmental impacts of travel.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Skill: - Environmental management and ecology - Knowing what habitat conditions are good for biodiversity and how to create favourable conditions is key to designing effective agri-environment agreements. Though I have little active input into forming new agreements I need to have a good understanding of how live agreements work so I can offer advice to our agreement holders.

How I developed: - University gives you the basics but in the workplace you see how this is translated into practical land management. A lot of it is learned through on the job training and courses which I can sign up to.
I also carried out my masters dissertation and volunteered on a local National Nature Reserve. This allowed me to see how Natural England work and gave an insight into the day to day ecological management of important habitats and species.

Skill: - Communication - I work as part of a large and varied team, with members scattered across the region, lots of whom are home workers. This means I use face to face communication, as well as the phone/teleconferencing and email.
A large part of my job is communication with customers, which again can be through a variety of means. A key aspect of communication is to remember who your audience is and use specific language of an appropriate level. Don't speak to farmers like you would an academic and vice versa!

How I developed: - Communication is a skill you can learn in any situation. A large part of presentation skills can be learned at university. A lot of people dread these but don't worry. If you put the time and effort to plan and prepare, you will do just fine.
I also spent many years in a sales and customer service job before I began, and during my studies. This meant I had years to hone my communication with different customers and organisations.

Skill: - Customer Service - Also a key part of my role. When dealing with customers it is always important to be professional and offer a high level of customer service. We want to offer a good service to our customers and agreement holders so we can work together to create positive environmental outcomes.

How I developed: -As above, years of work in a customer service role meant I had a lot of practice as well as training for these skills. Just remember to be polite, professional and listen to the needs of your customer.

Skill: - Teamwork - As mentioned above I work with a varied group of people and the faces change everyday in the office due to our 'hot-desking' policy. It really does help to be able to work well with others and have a confident and approachable manner. Being able to speak to other people gets you a long way in life!

How I developed: -Though university and previous jobs. In any job you will have to work with lots of different people, including some you may not get on with. Learning how to deal with this is key.

Independent working/workload prioritisation - I get work sent through from a range of different people and it is up to me to prioritise this and plan my own time. As mentioned some of this is teamwork, but a lot of it is done on my own so I need to plan my time carefully. If you don't already use it, get familiar with Microsoft Outlook as most companies use this not just for email, but for calendar functions which allow you to organise meetings etc.

How I developed: -University gives you the skills to manage your own time, especially in later years when designing and carrying out in-depth independent research for your dissertation.

What I like most

I love the variety my job gives me, and the fact I get to work outside and visit sites across the region. Its great to be able to go over the Yorkshire Dales or Wolds for the day for farm visits or to do some soil sampling.

What I like least

The vast amount of different computer systems you need to learn. I have at least 20 different log in's and passwords!

What surprised me most

How much you are trusted to just get on with your work. It is a big step from university when you work is constantly checked and assessed. You really are just sent out into the big wide world to get on with it!

How I looked for work

I used a range of websites like environmentjobs.co.uk, civil services jobs website,countryside jobs service and the RSPB website. Just google environment jobs and go from there.

How I found out about the job

Personal contacts

The recruitment process

My post was not formally advertised. I found out about it through the wife of a former colleague who works for Natural England and passed my CV onto my now line manager. There was still a competitive formal interview process to get through though.

My career goals when I graduated

To work in environmental conservation.

My career history

This is my first graduate post and unfortunately is only temporary, lasting five months.

What has helped my career to progress

A good degree is obviously a start but work experience is key and what all employers are looking. Work experience from my non-environmental job has given my good communication and customer service skills, but I have also worked in a variety of voluntary roles, from one-off things such as a day working for OPAL teaching Scouts about weather systems, to longer term volunteering on a local National Nature Reserve for Natural England.

My advice to students considering work

Talk to people. This not only helps build important communication skills but it also expands your web of contacts. Lots of environment jobs aren't advertised, but filled by word of mouth. If people know your name and face, this could put you in the frame.
Get voluntary work. I know people always say this, but don't underestimate it. Even with a first class degree, you will not get a job without at least some relevant work experience. Things like working as a student rep can also help build skills important in the workplace and foster better relationships with university staff who might put in a good word for you for a job they hear about.

My advice about working in my industry

Get advice on your CV. Use the careers facilities at university and get advice from your supervisor. Books on interview techniques can also help and give you confidence. Learning how to fill applications is also key. If you don't know what the STAR format it look it up and practice it. A lot of employers expect you to demonstrate how you meet a job specification using this format.

Contacting me

I'm happy to be contacted by students looking for advice/mentoring on working in environmental conservation work. If you have any questions please make them specific, I don't really have time to go over lots of general advice and I hope I have covered that reasonable well above. Also, please bear in mind it may take me a couple of days to get back to you.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Stuart ’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Stuart a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Stuart to be your mentor.

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