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What is a career in renewable energy? Part 1

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David Boyland, hydropower and renewables manager at Mott MacDonald, offers his insights into renewable energy careers

David Boyland, hydropower and renewables manager at Mott Macdonald
David Boyland, hydropower and renewables manager at Mott Macdonald

For the first part of ENDSjobsearch’s two-part series on careers in renewable energy, we spoke to David Boyland at Mott MacDonald. He tells us about his role, the range of opportunities in the sector and why relevant skills and knowledge are key to career success.

What types of roles are there in the renewable energy sector?

From an environmental perspective there are consultancy roles responding to the needs of renewable energy developers, such as providing environmental planning advice or due diligence, as well as undertaking environment and social impact assessments. There are also opportunities to support developers during construction through ecological surveys or wider environmental monitoring. Finally, during operations there is a significant requirement for ongoing environmental survey work and analysis.

What does your role typically involve?

I take responsibility for the development, growth and delivery of Mott MacDonald’s renewable energy business. This includes creating an effective business development function and client relationship programme. I also make sure that we’re shaping our team to market needs so we remain a resilient and profitable business.

What would you say is the best bit about your day?

Mott MacDonald is a people-orientated business – we sell our expertise. The ongoing successful development of our people is reflected through the positive feedback we receive from our clients about our service delivery.

And what is the biggest challenge?

A big challenge we face is making sure that we have the right people in the right locations to respond to changing market needs. We need to create career opportunities and ensure the continued sustainable growth of Mott MacDonald in what traditionally can be a challenging sector.

What made you decide to work in renewable energy?

Back in 2012, having worked for almost 15 years as an environmental professional, I was asked whether I’d be interested in leading Mott MacDonald’s renewables team and I took up the offer. Our renewable energy and wider environment businesses have grown together almost side-by-side and our drive to support low carbon solutions drew me into renewable energy.

What is it that you love about your job?

Going back five or 10 years there wasn’t much of a renewables footprint globally. However, these days, you don’t need to look far to see a solar or wind farm, which reflects the increased growth of renewable energy. This progress establishes faith that we as a society are facing up to ongoing challenges such as climate change.

What do you think it takes to make this career choice a success?

Choose your employer wisely. Make sure the company you join has a sound financial footing and a clear vision for how to sustainably grow within the marketplace. Some specialist renewables firms overextend themselves which affects job security.

What progression opportunities are there?

Using my own career path as an example, you can begin as an environmental professional and end up being responsible for delivering a multifaceted business worldwide. As a global growth industry, there will be an increasing demand for environmental professionals within the sector to ensure that renewables development is done in a way that enhances both environmental and social benefits.

What advice do you have for people about to embark on a career in renewable energy?

Renewables is a very broad sector with a role for anybody and everybody. The role that’s best for you will be the one that draws on your personal qualities and strengths. Although enthusiasm and motivation make a big difference, these are not sufficient to secure a role. Relevant skills and knowledge are the key.

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