IAM Member – Environment, Planning and Engagement Manager – Environment Agency.
1. Tell us a little bit about how you started your career and your career so far?
My career started in administrative and customer service roles, starting with a short period as an Office Junior with a Patent Agents. I then moved into the Water Industry before transferring to the Environment Sector in the late 1980s, initially with the National Rivers Authority which became the Environment Agency in `1995.
I spent 13 years in a variety of administrative, finance and customer based roles and in my mid-twenties decided to study part-time for the Diploma in Administrative Management. Within 6 months of gaining the Diploma I secured my first Team Leader role, initially responsible for all facilities and administrative services for the Nottingham Area and later leading the Customer Contact Team. In 1999 I secured my first manager role and since then have been responsible for a number of departments, my current role being the Area Environment, Planning & Engagement Manager.
2. What does your day to day look like now?
Last year I took the decision to reduce my hours and work on a job-share basis which has been a really interesting change to the way I work. Our department has a broad remit with many customer, partner and stakeholder facing teams, so it’s important we are able to respond effectively and efficiently to all of these often at the same time. With this in mind, my job-share partner and I keep each other updated on key issues and every week come together to hold a short leadership meeting for all out direct reports. This allows us to all be clear on business priorities and everyone in the department has the right support to enable them to deliver their roles.
I spend every day engaging with a wide range of colleagues across our area and wider business, but my main focus is:
- working with other leaders within our area to deliver out priorities
- managing issues & risks to agree our approach and response
- reviewing area performance to ensure we are meeting our corporate objectives
- looking for opportunities to work in partnership with others, both internally and externally
3. What is it like working the Environment Agency?
I love my job! The Environment Agency is a fascinating place to work as we have such a range of responsibilities and we work with so many different stakeholders to improve the environment for people and wildlife. Everyone who works here is a very professional and we are actively encouraged to invest time in our personal department. It is a fast-paced working environment but there is a great spirit of “one team” working, which is particularly evident when we respond to environmental incidents. There is also a great culture of embracing diversity and good flexible working options to help support staff needs which has helped me throughout my career.
4. What challenges do you think administrative management staff face today?
Many organisations with the added pressures that modern working life bring now, operate as efficiently as possible. But this also means there is little flexibility left to deal with the unexpected. So when everything is going well the great work that keeps everything running smoothly can often be overlooked, but when this is disrupted it is often down to the quick thinking and organisation skills that are often found within administrative professionals to fix the situation. I believe this is when administrative management staff come into their own and when their skills are put to the test under the watchful eye of grateful colleagues.
Also in organisations such as the Environment Agency I am surrounded by scientific and other specialists. It is important to do the job well, but it is also important to be seen as a professional in my own right. That is why I strongly believe in continuous development and the credibility provided by my membership of the IAM.
5. Why do you think it is important that people in the administration team are supported and recognised?
Without effective systems an organisation cannot thrive- administrators use their skills and working practices to enable leaders and specialists to deliver their roles well. Administrators need to be proud of what they achieve each day and recognise that they perform a vital role in their business and maybe when appropriate, gently remind those around you of how many hours you have spent “adding value” and making their colleagues lives that much easier.
6. How has the IAM supported you and your career journey?
The IAM gave me the confidence to recognise administrative skills I had and develop them in a structured way through the various modules we studied. When I sat down at my first evening class, after several years of formal education, I had no idea that 2 years later I would be leading a team of administrators, which in turn led to managing departments whose teams included scientific and technical staff. Being a member of a professional organisation like the IAM provides the opportunity to maintain that learning and remain the forefront of ideas and technology that would otherwise be much more difficult to access.