What does your day typically consist of?
My day starts off with feeding the dog (Rory), and then jumping on the bike to cycle to the office. Once I am at my desk I setup my to-do-list for the day whilst drinking my coffee. I always like to start the day with something I know I need time to think about; this might be looking at the department’s business development activity or a new business case or capability sheet. No day is the same as the next, but there is often a contract or two that need to be reviewed and discussed with our legal team (or Team L’eagle as I like to call them!). There is also likely to be a meeting or two at some point in the day, often with the department’s principal team and/or the business development team. The day then ends with the cycle home!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Seeing the company achieve success. That probably sounds a bit corny but I enjoy doing whatever I can to make sure the team is succeeding. Day to day, I enjoy helping to solve problems and working with people to determine a strategy to meet a particular objective.
How did you get into the role in the first place?
At the end of 2013 I had just finished my PhD and was on St Kilda (studying sheep…) when I got some phone calls from people I knew at the British Trust for Ornithology in Scotland asking me if I would be interested in a role undertaking bird surveys and digitising the data. I did my first bird surveys for proposed wind farm sites in 2004, and was involved in provision of advice to developers and Scottish Natural Heritage. I then moved onto RPS in Glasgow in 2007 to take a senior ecologist position. In 2010, I was taken on by Natural Power to build up an offshore ecology team. Then in 2014, I was appointed as Director of Ecology and Hydrology.
What is your degree and /or professional qualification?
My undergrad degree was in Ecology, jointly at Lancaster University and UBC in Vancouver. I then moved up to Stirling for a PhD place studying the energy expenditure during egg laying of birds.
What is the most interesting type of work you have done and why?
You can’t beat a good avian collision risk model! I think it’s the research that I like that goes into looking at the different assumptions, so that the most realistic scenario is presented at the end. Convincing stakeholders that your assumptions are the most appropriate given the current scientific knowledge can be quite “interesting” too!
What is your biggest achievement at work?
If I was to pick a single project I would say the ornithology chapter of the Environmental Statement for the three Moray Firth offshore wind farms. I was involved in the project since the day I started at Natural Power and it took up a lot of my time plus the time of plenty of other people at Natural Power! We also had a large consultation to undertake with the various ornithological stakeholders and Marine Scotland Science to justify our assumptions made within the assessment. Natural Power was praised for the work that had gone into this, and I was naturally very pleased when the sites received consent.
Any hidden talents?
This was a difficult one for me to answer…I have asked around and I apparently have a hidden talent of coercion, making “suggested” activities seem like a good idea even though they involve colleagues working out of their comfort zone. Will it still work now? It’s not hidden anymore!
What is your favourite hobby?
I have been bird watching since I was about 10. That makes it sound like I haven’t stopped bird watching since then, which is probably not far from the truth! I have a few places locally that I visit most weekends (such as the Allanwater river, Blair Drummond gravel pits, and the Forth estuary around Bo’ness), and there are places that I try to visit most years (most notably the Isle of Scilly in October). I also spend a fair amount of time walking Rory, cycling and looking after my allotment, and whilst at home listening to music and cooking.