Vanessa is a Senior Scientific Officer at DEFRA, based in Bristol.
I have worked in the public sector since 2009, after graduating with an MSc in Disaster Management, and a BSc in Geology & Geography. I started on the Ministry of Defence’s Science & Engineering Graduate Scheme, as an Environmental & Sustainability Officer, working mainly on nuclear defence projects. I then moved to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), as a Geography Evidence Adviser, where I promoted and advised on the use of geography across the Defra Network and Whitehall. I also represented Defra on the Copernicus Expert User Group for Emergency & Disaster Management and on the International Disaster Charter. However, the majority of my role was managing the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate programme, co-funded with DECC, and engaging across Defra to promote climate science, especially in an adaptation context.
In 2016, I undertook a secondment to MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), as the UK Contact Point for the North-West Europe and North Sea Region Interreg Programmes and Programme Lead for URBACT. Interreg programmes fall under the EU Cohesion Policy and are funded by the European Regional Development Fund; the aim is to support cooperation across borders, through project funding, to jointly tackle common challenges and find shared solutions.
I have recently returned to Defra, as a Senior Scientific Officer, and am currently working on building international science & innovation partnerships.
One thing that has always impressed potential employers when I apply for jobs is my commitment to CPD – both in support of my chartership, but also my evident interest in what I originally studied. Also, that I run a not-for-profit organisation, outside work, delivering hazard workshops to developing communities.
Project management and communication skills.
For a start, when building international partnerships, it is good to know where places are, but geography also helps one understand the natural environment and cultural aspects of a country!
I love working beyond borders. Seeing how countries can work together to share knowledge on common environmental challenges is extremely rewarding and something I am passionate about.
There is the option to apply for promotion within, and transfers between departments. There are also loans to various agencies.
Geography is a great degree base – you can become highly specialised or go into management – learn the basics!
I travel … a lot. I also volunteer at Bristol zoo every week. I attend various courses held locally by scientific organisations and universities. This variety keeps things interesting, but also makes sure I’m up to date on new thinking!
Because I genuinely loved, and still do, trying to understand the planet we live on, how it impacts us, and how we impact that!
Job title: Senior Scientific Officer
Organisation: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Location: Bristol, UK
Sophie Leigh is a Climate Change Consultant at Environmental Resources Management in Manchester, UK.
Richard Martin is a GIS Analyst at the National Trust.
Ian Spencer is Head of the Foundation of Geospatial Intelligence and Director of the Defence Geographic Centre at the Ministry of Defence.
Dr Jonathan Stone is a Team Leader at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), based in London.
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