Victoria Chater-Lea is an Environmental Advisor for Ferrovial Agroman, based in London, UK.
I went to the University of York where I studied Environmental Geography and completed an integrated Masters in Corporate Social Responsibility. I worked at Cyient doing GIS for 11 months, before working at Kier as an Environmental Technican for nearly a year and a half on their highways maintenance projects. Recently I started working as an Environmental Advisor for Ferrovial, based at Heathrow.
My experience at Kier in construction certainly helped, and having a Masters put me ahead. Also, having a general knowledge of climate change and other relevant environmental principles is useful.
I oversee the environmental aspects of major civil engineering projects, which means I am responsible for permits, management plans, processes, innovations, carbon savings, material approvals, and site inspections. I work alongside other project teams as this role is heavily collaboration focused, and I am also involved in various Heathrow sustainability working groups such as Clean Vehicle partnership and Carbon Trust meetings.
Communication and teamwork are essential in my role, as I have to know what is happening on site especially when any issues arise. Critical thinking is important too as I have an element of decision making in my role, and innovation is always at the forefront of our processes.
I would say that geography is highly important in my work because airports are all about connecting people. I am working on improving Heathrow in an environmentally friendly manner, and so environmental and sustainability principles are fundamental. I wouldn’t be able to do my role now without having studied geography.
I enjoy how varied my job is - no two days are the same. My job forces me to think and continue to develop - you are rarely bored and there is always something to do. It’s interesting watching a project develop and attending all the progress meetings.
The next step up for me would be Senior Environmental Advisor and then Environmental Manager. I see myself moving up the career ladder, at least to a senior role, if not a manager. Also with the expansion at Heathrow, I’m sure my role will dramatically change and I will take on a lot more responsibility.
Try and complete as many internships and work experiences as you can. I found that I had graduated university with no real relevant experience and struggled to get an environmental role. It’s really competitive out there, but once you are in, you are in! And lastly keep pursuing your passion - you will end up in the role one day. I graduated July 2016 and in November 2017 I landed my first proper environmental role, and now I’ve managed to become an Environmental Advisor (although I’m on a very steep learning curve!). There is also an element of luck of looking in the right place at the right time.
I chose geography because of my love of travel, other cultures, the outdoors, the environment and sustainability. I followed my passion for it to study a degree and I can’t imagine studying anything else. I grasped the concepts fairly easily as I always had an interest and now I’ve managed to go into a relevant career which I’m really happy about.
* This interview was undertaken in 2019 and was correct at the time of publication. Please note that the featured individual may no longer be in role, but the profile has been kept for career pathway and informational purposes.
Job title: Environmental Advisor
Organisation: Ferrovial Agroman
Location: London, UK
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