Luke Menzel, environmental advisor at interior lining systems manufacturer, British Gypsum, offers insider insight about his role
How did you land your current role as environmental advisor?
Following an initial interview I attended an assessment day and took part in various activities, such as group sessions, a presentation and a face-to-face interview. The most important thing was to stand out from other candidates, which I did by making sure I was clued up on the company and its values.
What has helped you get where you are in your career?
Hard work and a positive mental attitude. Believing in your own ability is really important, as well as having a positive outlook on any challenges and learning from mistakes along the way.
Environment and sustainability are broad sectors, so the more knowledge and work experience you can gain the better. Taking on different roles and opportunities can also expose you to different sectors such as public/private and minerals/residential.
Who have been your role-models/mentors in your career?
Networking with likeminded professionals has been crucial and has been really pivotal in my career to date as many have become key contacts for work experience, mentoring and advice on what I can do to progress.
What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way?
It was initially a challenge to get myself on the ladder in the sustainability sector, purely due to intense competition. You’re likely to have some bad experiences or make some mistakes along the way, but through hard work and a positive outlook you can learn from these and you will get to where you want to be.
What stages of your career have been the most challenging?
It was definitely the first few months in my first sustainability role. Not only was I new to the area, but I was also thrown in at the deep end and had to learn quickly how to work successfully with my colleagues and deal with the time constraints of projects. Although it was a challenge, it was certainly worthwhile and has absolutely played a key role in my professional development.
The most rewarding?
I take great pride in my work and get the most satisfaction out of improving something and completing a project to the best of my ability. There is nothing better than seeing that your hard work has made a difference to the company and to your colleagues.
What have been the ground-breaking 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?
The new ISO14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS) certified standard has introduced some key changes to the standards which an organisation can meet in order to enhance their environmental performance. In my career to date, EMS has been a significant part of my work - I have attended webinars by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) to learn about what the changes are and how they relate to the projects I am working on.
What qualifications have been necessary/most beneficial in your career?
It’s all about having a USP against the employment competition, which for me I’d say was having a BA Geography degree.
What training and development opportunities have you had?
Every day at work (particularly at graduate or entry level) contributes to your continuing professional development (CPD) – you learn something new every day! I also identified the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) as a relevant professional membership body to join - they provide benefits such as training via webinars that are very helpful.
What does the future have in store for your industry – choppy waters ahead? Or a fruitful and secure future?
Certainly one of the most topical issues currently in the environmental and sustainability profession is the impact of Brexit. It generated a lot of uncertainty for the industry and there are potentially various positive and negative outcomes, such as the opportunities to contribute to and influence legislative changes or instability of financing.