Routes into a sustainability career

Ever considered a career in the environmental sector, or even within an environmental charity?

There are many ways to get involved, and at ecobirmingham, staff members have joined the sector in a variety of different ways.

Sam, who joined us for a work experience placement, interviewed our team to find out how some of ecobirmingham began their work — thanks to him for putting this piece together. You can find out more about each of the team and their journeys below.

Anne, Admin and Education Coordinator

Anne began her work in the environmental sector volunteering for Friends of the Earth in 2008. Her work at ecobirmingham started in 2009 after she was informed of a vacancy through her volunteering. Before this, Anne’s job was booking travel for businesspeople.

At ecobirmingham, Anne began with an administrative and financial role one day a week at the office but got involved with other activities at the centre and started to take part in the educational side of the organisation, which gradually became a bigger part of her role.

Now Anne’s job as Education Coordinator involves organising creative learning projects primarily for children that educate on environmental issues and topics in an engaging way, giving the next generation the knowledge they need to live in a sustainable way.

Lisa, Active Travel Project Coordinator

Lisa’s work in the environmental sector began due to her love of cycling. Before joining ecobirmingham in 2018, Lisa had an interest in the environment but had a position outside of the sector working in a sales role in promotional merchandise.

At the time, Lisa was involved in community cycling groups where she led bike rides, cycling for leisure as well as convenience. A project assistant role at ecobirmingham was sent to Lisa, she was interested in working in the environmental sector in a job role that included social media and website design, as she had studied photography and digital images at university.

Now, Lisa is a project coordinator within the active travel team, organising events in the community that help people to cycle more around Birmingham, from group bike rides to creating new accessible routes. As well as encouraging other sustainable affordable methods of transport.

Esther, Active Travel Project Coordinator

Esther’s work at ecobirmingham began in 2017, when she saw an advertisement for the role of project assistant on social media. Before this, she worked as a freelance graphic designer but cycled as her primary method of transport as it was affordable and convenient. Cycling developed from a practical way to move around into a leisure activity, making every small journey into an adventure.

Esther wanted to start working on the active travel project to share how she uses cycling and inspire other women to get into cycling, showing them it is a useful tool anyone, not just athletes, can use.

Now, with Lisa, Esther is a project coordinator within the active travel team, helping to increase knowledge and accessibility of cycling and other modes of sustainable affordable transport in Birmingham.

Charlotte, Communications and Impact Coordinator

Charlotte’s work at ecobirmingham began in March 2022, after she searched specifically for local jobs in the environmental sector. Before working at ecobirmingham, Charlotte was doing comms work at a women’s centre so she had experience in the charity sector.

At university, Charlotte studied journalism and English language for her undergraduate degree, before doing a Master’s in linguistics. Although this is not related directly to the environmental sector, it helped her develop skills in communications which are now important for her role.

Now, Charlotte works as ecobirmingham’s Communications and Impact Coordinator, helping engage Birmingham’s communities with the events that ecobirmingham are organising and share the impact the organisation is having on the community and on the local environment.

Kam, Head of Programmes

Kam began working in the environmental sector at ecobirmingham in January 2023. Prior to this, she worked in health and wellbeing as a wellbeing coach and yoga teacher supporting people’s mental health.

Previously, Kam worked as a lecturer in college working in prison education for ten years, alongside her Bachelor’s degree in business administration, this gave her managerial skills and community-based work experience that were both useful in her role at ecobirmingham.

Kam discovered the role from an advert on the internet but had already heard of the organisation through her work on community projects across Birmingham. Now, Kam’s job as Head of Programmes is to support team and project coordinators with running programmes across the city. This can mean anything that enhances pre-existing work or finding new business for the organisation.

Jackie, Food Project Coordinator

Jackie has been working at ecobirmingham for 12 years. Before her time at ecobirmingham began, she worked as a transport planner in Birmingham doing noise and air quality assessments after doing a degree in environmental science.

Jackie has been involved in conservation volunteering for most of her life and applied for an intern position after looking for environmental jobs. Now, Jackie works as a food project coordinator as well as at a local community garden.

In her role at ecobirmingham, she promotes community food growing by offering mentoring and other services to new and existing community gardens as well as helping them find funding. She also teaches healthy eating and cooking using low energy cooking methods and fresh produce helping people to eat in a more sustainable but also healthier way.

Simon, Chief Executive

Simon has been working at ecobirmingham since November 2020. Before this, he has worked or volunteered in the environmental sector since he was a teenager, when he did conservation work and campaigned for causes such as Fair Trade.

Studying town planning at university with the intention of working on regeneration schemes, Simon knew he wanted a career that helped improve people’s lives. Since then, he has worked many other jobs in the environmental sector, including other environmental charities and not for profits.

Simon discovered the role at ecobirmingham whilst looking for jobs in environmentalism or charity and ecobirmingham fit both. As ecobirmingham’s Chief Executive, he works primarily in a managerial position and helped by his environmental knowledge and skills, can support staff work towards making Birmingham more sustainable.

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