I am one of a group of people whose job is rubbish – and we are extremely proud of that fact. The waste and resource sector is one of those industries that is always taken for granted and yet the job is essential to everyone’s wellbeing.
How I got started
On leaving school my first career was in the steel industry. I became a qualified metallurgist, being involved in the quality control of steel to make everything from nails to cars to major bridges.
Within this industry I moved into management services and project management before taking these skills into vehicle maintenance and repair in local government. The vehicles happened to be waste related and were my introduction to the waste and resource industry.
My career was then at a crossroads with the alternative routes of a technical project management future or a more general management role. I opted for the latter. With my technical experience under my belt it meant that I could concentrate on the critical task of developing my knowledge and abilities for that most difficult of jobs; how to manage our most important resource – people.
By consistent application and an unbridled enthusiasm for my work, I steadily moved up through the management levels until I headed a multidisciplined organisation with a work force of 1,000 people.
Having successfully developed a management career in the waste and resource industry, there eventually came a point where my self analysis showed that I was at risk of becoming stale and past my sell by date. The immediate five year future looked to be a repeat of the previous five years. This lack of challenges caused me to take a leap into the unknown and I set up my own management consultancy.
Establishing a consultancy and providing vital managerial and technical support to many local authorities and major international companies has given me the opportunity to develop and make full use of my twin strengths of project management and education and training. The education and training has taken me around the world with particular attention to the Middle East. I also tutor for various UK universities.
Improving standards in the industry
In the UK I am an External Verifier for WAMITAB – which is the awarding organisation for the resource management, Facilities Management and Cleansing Industry. The waste and resource industry is, quite rightly, highly regulated to ensure the highest standards are met.
The introduction of statutory qualifications over 20 years ago has had a major impact on raising the standards of waste and resource facilities which have rapidly changed over recent years to become increasingly technical in nature.
WAMITAB plays a key role in ensuring employees from all parts of the industry have the necessary skills and competence to introduce and maintain more sustainable waste management practices for the benefit (and safety) of both the operatives and public at large. My role within WAMITAB is as a quality assurance auditor. This means having regular contact with people at all levels within organisations, all of whom have a shared concern for the environment.
As with most industries the waste and resource industry has a professional body which unites like minded people. The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), is the professional body which represents waste and resource professionals working in the sustainable waste and resource management sectors worldwide. I have been an extremely active member of CIWM for most of my career and have been involved at the highest level culminating in being its President in 2010.
Being involved in a professional body requires a voluntary time commitment. I would urge any young professional to give up some of their time to get involved with their professional body. It will be a way of meeting like minded people including their industry’s ‘movers & shakers’ and enhance their own profile.
I have been extremely fortunate in ending up with a job that has a multiple of facets and no two days are the same, so no chance of being bored.
My advice to those setting out on a career
- Be prepared to change careers – redundancy is a terrible experience, but it is also an opportunity for a new direction.
- Put in that extra commitment; be prepared to take chances and have a clear focus on where you are going – but be prepared to change as new opportunities present themselves.
- Go for it! The industry is going to grow and grow.
- There will be a need for an ever expanding range of technical expertise covering science, engineering etc. WAMITAB qualifications will provide you with the industry specific, technical expertise to meet these skills gaps.