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Environmental Advisors Share Career Paths

  • Steph Lewin WOW talk.jpg
  • J Murphy & Sons WOW Talks.jpg
  • Josh Smith WOW talk.jpg

This term, a pair of Environmental Advisors at J Murphy & Sons shared their career experiences with girls in Year 10 and boys in Year 11 as part of an ongoing series of World of Work talks organised by the Development Office.

Stephanie Lewin spoke to Girls’ Division pupils over Zoom, while Josh Smith talked to Boys’ Division students. Both talks offered an interesting perspective and provided the audience with both insight and advice.

Steph opened her talk by admitting that she didn’t initially know what she wanted to do. After studying Music at university and considering a teaching career, she ended up in a temp position doing data entry related to the carbon footprint of a product made in a factory. This turned into a permanent position and she was offered the opportunity to complete a Masters in Environmental Management. She said she ‘struggled through’ this course: it was hard, coming from a non-science background, especially when she was working full-time.

After being made redundant, she tried lots of different things to figure out what she wanted to do next, and advised her audience that everything offers experience. Inspired by the statistic that most women only apply for a job when they can do everything in the job description, while men will apply even if there are some things they can’t do, she decided to take a chance and apply for a job as an Environmental Advisor in the railway construction industry: her current role. Though in the first interview she felt that she hadn’t done well due to lack of technical knowledge, she was invited back for a second. She advised the girls that technical knowledge can always be learned later, and sometimes the most important thing is showing that you are the right fit for the team.

Steph went on to give a brief ‘day in the life’ overview of what her job involves. She talked about having six to eight projects on the go at once, and how varied her job can be, from writing reports at her desk to walking across fields to conduct site assessments, and working with everyone involved in the project. Though the construction industry is male-dominated, she said that the 20% of women in the workforce are spread across every single role, and that it’s nice to be able to bring a female perspective to the job.

Josh also talked about his job, which is primarily to do with emergency work on railways. He explained what various parts of the job description really mean: how he establishes best practice in environmental and sustainability matters, ensures that everyone is aware of their environmental responsibilities, creates environmental management plans for sites and supports teams in complying with these, and carries out regular inspections and incident investigations. He talked about some of his recent jobs and the places he has worked in, for example in ancient woodland, and what measures are needed to protect animals and plants while also remediating an emergency situation.

Moving on to discuss his career as a whole, Josh said that he initially wanted to be a marine biologist or a keeper for big cats! He therefore concentrated on subjects that would get him into this field and studied Natural Sciences and Zoology at university. After his degree, he was accepted onto an internship in America working with big cats, but needed money to get him there. He tried working for a law firm, but then found out about the environmental and sustainability advisor role at J Murphy & Sons. This was more similar to what he wanted to be doing, so he applied to join the company and waited to apply internally when the role he wanted became available. He said: ‘I thought it was important to put this kind of career journey in, because plans definitely do change and I kind of fell into a job that I absolutely love.’

Answering questions at the end of his talk, Josh spoke about volunteering at Cats’ Protection to give himself experience working with animals and to show his commitment and interest. He also said that he doesn’t wish that he was a marine biologist or big cats keeper now: it would’ve been a good challenge, but he said that he’d found his niche in this job and is glad to be where he is today.

Bolton School is grateful to both Steph and Josh for speaking to pupils about their careers and inspiring student to think about different pathways into jobs that they may not have considered.

These of these careers talks are available to watch again via the following links: Steph Lewin & Josh Smith.

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