CEnv Blog | The Journey from REnvTech to CEnv
In conversation with Gemma Williams CEnv
With thanks to Gemma for providing your insight, and congratulations on achieving one of your career goals - chartership.
We are delighted to publish this interview as part of #iamCEnv - an initiative running throughout August 2020 to shine a light on the vital work of CEnv registrants from across sectors, disciplines and borders.
SocEnv Engagement Manager, Phil Underwood, in conversation with Gemma Williams who has recently progressed from Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech) registration to Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) registration. This is no small achievement!
Q: You successfully applied to become a REnvTech in 2018. What was your job at that stage and how did this support your application?
“At that time, I was working as a Catchment Risk Coordinator within Water Services Science at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. The roles and responsibilities of the job were varied which allowed me to gain and develop lots of new skills and experience which all added to the competences required to attain the registration. My Continuous Professional Development record (CPD) also allowed me to identify gaps in my skill set and helped me work towards filling those gaps.”
What made you apply for REnvTech registration?
“A colleague introduced me to the Institute of Water and encouraged me to start a CPD record and also look into becoming professionally registered as she had just become REnvTech. I had always wanted to become chartered at some stage in my career but never knew how to achieve this, so she opened the door for me by introducing me to the Institute of Water. From there I aimed to become Registered first to showcase the skills, competencies and experience I already had within the sector. I also wanted to use the professional registration journey as a way to develop my skills and knowledge by using my CPD to drive the type of development I needed to progress in my career. REnvTech is a perfect steppingstone to chartership and I would highly recommend completing this stage first. Not only is it a huge achievement but also a great way to reflect on your own personal development – where you are and where you want to be!”
As the interview title suggestions, you are now a CEnv – many congratulations! Why did you want to go from REnvTech to CEnv?
“Thank you! After attaining my REnvTech it gave me an appetite to push myself further and really embrace my own development. I wanted to become chartered to showcase my skills and competences but also to be recognised as an environmental professional. I used my CPD development plan to scope out what additional experience and skills I needed to develop in order to achieve CEnv. I can honestly say the process has been so rewarding – my confidence and ability to believe in myself has grown and I have achieved more than I thought I would so early on in my career.”
To get to the stage of applying for CEnv registration in 2020, did you progress from your job role above? If so, how did this help with your application?
“Yes, I moved into a Lean Deployment Specialist role which was very different to the background I had, however this allowed me to grow and develop many new skills including line management, finance and working at a strategic level.
From this experience not only have I obtained my CEnv but also progressed into my current role as an Ecology and Biodiversity advisor.”
Q: What other experience and qualifications contributed towards your CEnv application?
“From university I already attained a masters in Geography and Earth Science which has provided the solid foundations in which I have built my experience on. In order to develop skills in leadership and management I applied and was successful for Chwarae Teg Step to Non-Exec programme. Through this programme I have been an observing member of a board gaining insight into how it is run, challenges and expectations. This had been particularly interesting to observe as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.
I am also an active member of the Institute of Water Welsh Area committee and subcommittee lead for membership and professional development. I really enjoy this opportunity as I love to help people on their own development journeys and achieve their own goals and more!
If you are wanting to apply for professional development, whichever level that may be, I strongly recommend looking not only within your organisation but outside of your organisation to gain wider experiences. You may be on the committee for your local football team or help your local brownies unit… the skills are transferable, it all counts!!!”
Q: Was CEnv always the aim after gaining your REnvTech registration?
“Yes it was. I didn’t set a date to achieve my CEnv but I wanted to apply when I felt I could demonstrate all of the competencies comfortably. There will never be a “right time” to apply – we will always be developing and gaining new skills. My advice to anyone thinking of working towards their professional registration is to make a start. Keep adding to it and using your CPD development plan to gain the experience you need – you will be surprised how ready you are to apply!”
Q: How has professional registration and membership via the Institute of Water supported your career goals so far?
“The support from the Institute of Water from a local and national level has been above and beyond. Members that have been through the journey themselves are always willing to help and support. I have been so lucky to have such a fantastic support network around me throughout my journey and I hope that I can continue to give back to members who now want to start their own journey to become registered. If you’re not sure where to start I strongly suggest dropping your area committee an email and they will help you on your way!”
Q: Why do you do what you do?
“Because I love it – simple as that!! I’ve always had a passion for geography and the natural environment and knew early on I wanted to make a career from my passion if I was able to. I’ve been very lucky that I have had such a wonderful career to date doing what I enjoy. I have built a great network of likeminded people and I look forward to working with them to face the challenges we have ahead within the industry. I hope that I can leave a legacy – big or small – so I can look back and think I did my best to make a positive change for the environment, water industry, as well as for our future generations.”
Q: Finally, please could you share an environmental achievement that you are really proud of?
“I’m hoping my best is yet to come but I know you won’t let me get away with that answer Phil! There are a couple of achievements I am proud of which are only small but had a very significant impact.
The first was to replace all single use plastic cups in our office kitchen and purchase glasses – this has stopped most of the plastic waste in our office now.
Another achievement is the way in which I communicated a complex graph to an external stakeholder group of farmers by simplifying the graph to show ‘where we are now’ and ‘where we want to be’ in regards to water quality. They were able to understand the problem easily and without feeling intimidated by data. The best feeling was when they were then able to identify an issue and report it, helping improve the raw water quality within that catchment.”