All in a day's work
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a Minister for the Environment, the CEO of a major corporation or a third-sector campaigner? Wonder no more: Resource asked some of the industry’s top professionals to describe their jobs (and what it took to get them there). Here’s what they had to say.
Name: Lindsay Boswell
Job: CEO, FareShare
Lives: Ashtead, Surrey
Education: Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh; Army; and life
Route to present job: All over the place. Ten years in the Army followed by 22 years in the charity sector. Last 10 years as CEO of Institute of Fundraising and before that living in Chile, Malaysia, Botswana and Zimbabwe working for youth development charity Raleigh International.
Typical working day: FareShare tackles food poverty by fighting food waste. No two days are the same as we supply over 700 charities with 3,600 tonnes of fit-to-eat surplus food yet never know what we are going to get from one minute to another. All our deliveries from 16 warehouses from Aberdeen to Brighton are carried out by volunteers, so it’s a question of seeing what has come in, what needs to be eaten first and getting all hands to get it distributed. I spend quite a bit of my time trying to forge partnerships with food companies, funders and charities.
Favourite part of job: Working with our volunteers. Some have got their lives together having heard of us in the homeless hostels, some have spare time and some are city folk on volunteering days. Once they are here the only thing that matters is getting that food out to those in need and on time.
Drawbacks to the job: The frustration of knowing that if we had more resources we could rescue so much more food. Last year we saved businesses 1,800 tonnes using WRAP’s calculation methods.
Words of wisdom: No good food should go to waste... It’s what we do!!!
Name: Alex Attwood MLA
Job: Minister – Department of the Environment Northern Ireland
Age: 52, married to Orla – two children Nora (5) Anna (2)
Education: Attended St Malachy’s College 1970-1977, Queen’s University and Belfast Institute of Professional Legal Studies 1977-1983, graduating with an LLB and CPLS.
Route to present job: Started political career when elected Vice-President and then President of Queen’s University Students’ Union 1981-83. Elected to Belfast City Council in 1985 and re-elected four times up to 2005. Elected Member of Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 and three times since including in 2011.
A member of the SDLP negotiating team for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The party’s policing spokesperson helping to negotiate the 1998 Patten Report on policing reform. NI Minister for Social Development 2010-2011.
Typical working day: Up early; breakfast with the two girls; leave them to school / childminder; go at it hard at work until around 7 pm; help girls to bed; dinner with Orla; do some paperwork; off to bed.
Favourite part of job: Standing with democratic Ireland during the years of terror and being part of the introduction of a new order of things.
Drawbacks to the job: Resistance to change and pace of change.
Words of wisdom: Robert F Kennedy said: “Numberless diverse acts of courage and belief can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” This is the essence of what the SDLP achieved over the last 40 years.
Name: Julian Kirby
Job: Resource Use Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Lives: Hackney, London
Education: Never stops. Degrees in psychology and marine and freshwater biology, and the complexities of waste and resource efficiency comprise the world’s longest ‘Master’s’.
Route to present job: Once upon a time I was something of nursing assistant-cum-assistant psychologist on a traumatic brain injury rehab unit, after five years of which I switched from learning about people to learning about planet. Friends of the Earth struck me with its perfect combination of both, perhaps best described as ‘environmental justice’, and after a tour of planning and climate bill campaigns, I’ve settled on resource use as one of the issues key to a genuinely fair and sustainable society.
Typical working day: Starts with a gorgeous cycle along the canal, which never fails to set me up with a smile. Thereafter it all gets a little less predictable, but usually involves chatting to media, politicians, activists, allies and adversaries, reading up on what’s going on, sifting an avalanche of emails and trying trying trying to keep the big picture in mind at all times.
Favourite part of job: The people I work with and for, including the multitude of incredibly passionate, expert and articulate activists
Drawbacks to the job: There is always too much to do, but dealing with that is a good lesson, too.
Words of wisdom: Just do the best you can.
Name: Dr Jane Beasley
Job: Director, Beasley Associates Ltd
Lives: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Education: BSc Environmental Management (Applied Bioscience), PhD Wastes Management
Route to present job: My first ever job was as an Ecologist for Leicestershire County Ecology Unit. I then completed a PhD in waste management and stayed on in academia for eight years. Opting for a complete change, I became Communications Manager for CIWM. Following a 12-month secondment to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, I left to set up BeEnvironmental Ltd with a colleague and grew the company. Five years later, following the birth of my second child, I sold my shares and started up Beasley Associates Ltd and have been trading for 2.5 years.
Typical working day: There is no typical day! I could be doing desk-based research, chairing a conference, facilitating a workshop, presenting findings or writing a report. That’s what I love about it. A lot of the work at the moment is waste partnership stuff, which is great.
Favourite part of job: The diversity of projects and the different people I work for, plus the great team of associates that come together on different jobs. I do lots of partnership work with Ray Georgeson, who not only knows his stuff but is a great laugh. Working my own hours whenever I can is a real bonus.
Drawbacks to the job: The ‘feast or famine’ scenario that often occurs when you have your own company, plus when you are at capacity having to say no to a wonderful job that comes in – after eight years of working for myself I still hate having to do that!
Words of wisdom: If you don’t like something, then change it. If you can’t change it, then do something different. Life’s too short to not enjoy what you do! Oh and be confident about what you know, but never think you know everything.
Name: Peter Selkirk
Job: Chief Executive, Egbert H Taylor
Lives: Near Usk in Monmouthshire
Education: MA, Clare College, Cambridge University in Natural Sciences (mainly Physics), progressing to History and Philosophy of Science; MBA from London Business School
Route to present job: I’ve always been in manufacturing, mainly international: from nuts and bolts (literally!), through wiring accessories and then via footwear components to waste and recycling.
Typical working day: Commute the M50, emails, phone calls, meetings, peering into bins, chasing ideas, hosting visits, travelling far and wide.
Favourite part of job: Being part of creating something new – a new product or service, a new way of doing things, a new customer brought on board, even a new country to visit.
Drawbacks to the job: The 160-mile roundtrip commute – but it’s a very pretty one!
Words of wisdom: Don’t worry, be happy!