Benjamin Wallbridge, Environment and Sustainability
Year studied Environment & Sustainability:
2010-2013 Graduated with a 2(i) BSc
The Clancy Group, Rickmansworth - Construction and Utilities
What are the different steps you took after graduating from Keele in terms of travel, further study and jobs?
After finishing University it took me a few months to find my feet work-wise. After three temporary jobs I was offered a 6 month research contract with The Clancy Group, the company I completed my work placement with during my course. The work revolved around analysing the key reasons for the company’s failure to reach its 10% carbon reduction target, and to provide recommendations to implement for the next 5 year target being developed. The end product of the work was a written report and a formal presentation of my findings to the senior management team. Off the back of this work I was offered a permanent position within the company, but I decided it would be a much better idea to travel abroad for 6 months instead.
After returning, I worked for the National Trust for 6 months implementing a supplier management system and supervising a team of customer service representatives. I was then contacted by the HSEQ director for The Clancy Group who encouraged me to apply for the Sustainability adviser role that had become available. And that is where I am now.
How did you get your current position and what does your current position involve?
My current position is the direct result of the work placement module within my degree course.
Broadly speaking, my role is to support The Clancy Group on its journey to becoming a more responsible business. Strategic responsibilities consist of:
- Supporting the delivery of The Clancy Group’s 5 year CO2 reduction target.
- Assisting in The Clancy Group’s journey to gaining CSR recognition, in the form of a 3 star BITC ranking target.
- Supporting the development of a material and robust community involvement strategy and programme.
These strategic responsibilities result in the following operational activities being undertaken:
- Assisting in the management of The Clancy Group’s CSR index ranking, by building key external stakeholder relationships and strengthening departmental involvement and accountability for CSR.
- Supporting the process of acquiring ‘BREEAM in Use’ certification for the Head Office.
- Providing evidenced proposals to improve the efficiency of The Clancy Group's commercial vehicle fleet to reduce company emission levels.
- Assisting in the annual ISO-14064 auditing and verification process.
- Leading a Materiality Matrix project to better understand the internal and external reputation of The Clancy Group.
What did you learn on the Environmental course which helped you get the job, or helps with your role now?
Almost all of the skills I use for my role were gained from my course. Apart from the obvious specific sustainability skills (carbon understanding, CSR, social value etc.) the most useful ‘generic’ skills I learned from my course were project and time management and analysis skills; they’re useful attributes to have in the real world and can be applied to almost any work stream you want to go in to. There were plenty of times during my course where I felt like E&S students had to overcome steep learning curves – geology modules alongside geology students, politics modules alongside politics students – however working like this proved to be invaluable once I entered the working world.
Early on in your career you will always be on the backfoot as you will be applying for roles against people whose experience outweighs yours; being able to demonstrate that experience and competency are entirely different things, using this steep learning curve example to your advantage, will massively increase your chances.
What would you like a prospective student to know about studying our environmental courses at Keele?
These courses offer a huge opportunity to join a quickly emerging field. The work placement module proved to be invaluable for me, so I would recommend that students really make the most of it.
My final piece of advice would be to have an idea of where you want your career to go when it comes to elective modules. I picked some elective modules based on how interesting they were at the time, rather than how useful they would be in the real world, GIS being one of them (I just didn’t fancy the extra time I’d have to sit at a computer at the time).