Angus Berry, group sustainability graduate at Mott MacDonald, offers his career tips for environment professionals
How did you land your current job?
I started at Mott MacDonald straight out of my master’s degree in environmental history. The application process included answering the question ‘what is sustainability to you?’ and an interview with the group sustainability manager, Davide Stronati.
What has helped you get where you are in your career?
I believe my academic background helped me secure my first job as it gave me a non-traditional outlook for the industry.
Do you have any tips for people about to embark in your field on how to make a success out of their careers in sustainability?
I would advise anyone that they must be passionate about sustainability and not just in a career sense but also in a personal capacity. Without the drive to make the world a better place beyond your 9-5 it would be easy to lose faith in what you want to achieve.
Who have been your role-models/mentors in your career?
Being very new to the role, most of my mentors have come in the shape of academics. For example, my advisor at St Andrews John Clark introduced me to the interconnected nature of sustainability and challenged me to look beyond historical research. In my short time at Mott MacDonald, Davide Stronati has proved to be an excellent mentor with a drive and enthusiasm that I hope to live up to.
What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way?
I have so far come across very few barriers to what we want to achieve. However, it is clear that the sustainability agenda is challenging the ‘business-as-usual’ model and that there will always be resistance to sustainable solutions.
What stages of your career have been the most challenging?
My master’s degree was perhaps the most challenging stage of my career so far. I was challenged to work in a transnational and transdisciplinary way and I know that working towards a sustainable future will involve working in this way also.
The most rewarding?
In an academic capacity, achieving a first class degree and also completing my masters. So far in my work career getting the role at Mott MacDonald is my greatest achievement!
What is key to getting the most out of your team/colleagues?
The key to getting the most out of colleagues on issues around sustainability is to communicate what sustainable solutions can achieve as clearly as possible. When people understand that working sustainably doesn’t mean you sacrifice your bottom line then people start to listen and embrace a new way of thinking.
What have been the groundbreaking instances or milestones in the sustainability field that have really changed the way you have to work? And how did you adapt to these events?
For me, big international events such as COP21 are the milestone events that show that sustainability and climate change transcend the experts and are now big topics of interest for the general public. From this, those who work in sustainability can capitalise on the public mood.
What qualifications have been necessary/most beneficial in your career?
Both my undergraduate and postgraduate degree challenged me to work in a collaborative and multidisciplinary way. These skills have been key to a career in business.
Have you had much continuing professional development? Has this been useful?
Being new to the role I have not embarked on a great deal of formal professional development, however there is a clear pathway set out by Mott MacDonald that looks extensive and well organised.
What does the future have in store for your industry – choppy waters ahead? Or a fruitful and secure future?
I am hopeful that events such as COP21 will provide the impetus for real and sustained change in the way that people, businesses and governments interact with the natural world. Working in sustainability means that we are at the forefront of that challenge and it is an exciting place to be.