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My journey to becoming a chartered environmentalist

Careers By Glyn Hodgkiss, Associate, Air Quality – 29 September 2020

Smartly dressed man with a leather satchel holding a thick book


Glyn Hodgkiss in blue shirt with acoustics feature background

Glyn Hodgkiss

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I recently received status as a Chartered Environmentalist, or CEnv as it’s more commonly known. My application was awarded by the Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES), who are one of 24 bodies licensed to grant this qualification.

For any professionals who may be thinking of following a similar route, I thought that it might be useful to explain a little more about my journey through the process.

I joined the IES as a full member in 2015 following a mid-career change into the specialist discipline of air quality. I had achieved an MSc in Environmental Science some years earlier, and by that point had also been working within the Environmental Sector for at least five years. I joined Cundall in 2018 and targeted completion of an environmental chartership within 18 months.

At the start of 2020, I became increasingly frustrated with pressures and other demands which made it difficult to set the time aside that I needed to complete the application process. This involved:

  • Submission of a 4000-word report which required 12 specific environmental topics to be addressed, demonstrating suitable examples from the applicant’s career, and how these areas linked to sustainable development concepts
  • Submission of a tailored CV
  • Interview with two registered assessors to discuss the submissions in more detail, and to focus on specific areas of interest
  • Submission of two professional references

My interest was drawn to a recent initiative introduced by the IES, the concept of ‘CEnv in a Day’, which consisted of a focused day workshop with a maximum of 5 cohorts, during which it would be possible to fine-tune the submission report with the assistance of an experienced assessor, and also complete the interviews in the same day. The costs were not that much greater than going through the ‘self-guided’ route, so it made sense to register for CEnv in a Day, and I opted for a slot in June.

The IES offers the designations of Chartered Environmentalist or Chartered Scientist, and the first step was to decide which of the two options to pursue. I attended a webinar provided by the IES which specifically addresses this issue and fully explains the difference between the two designations. CEnv seemed an obvious choice for anyone working for Cundall, as it denotes sound knowledge, proven experience, and a profound commitment to sustainable best practice.

I decided to take 3 days annual leave to focus on the application, and I spent the first day drafting my report and responses to the twelve specific questions. By this point I had also requested support from two referees, who had known me professionally for some time, and could approve the completed reports as being my own work and a true representation of my career experiences.

The CEnv workshop followed the next day and presented a great opportunity to fine tune my responses with the assistance of an experienced assessor. I burned the midnight oil getting things into shape, as the report was due for submission at 9am the next morning. My CV needed further refinement too, as I needed to link to the specific areas of experience within the report, which had changed considerably since the initial draft.

On Day 3, I completed the draft report and CV submission, took a much-needed break, then focused on preparing for the interview later that day. My interviewers included a senior professional from within the IES, and also a senior professional from the air quality field in which I work. The interview lasted for just over an hour and probed my responses to the twelve questions in more detail. The interview was as I expected, strict but fair, but overall, not too daunting. It was nice to be able to elaborate on some of my examples in more detail and discuss these issues professionally on a peer to peer basis.

On the following day, I was notified that I had passed my interview, however my draft report had now been reviewed by a second assessor, and further amendments/edits were required. I managed to complete these in a day or so, and then requested my referees to review the final report and complete the final declarations, which were submitted at the end of June.

The final review of the submitted documents was undertaken by a further two independent assessors, which took a fair length of time as it coincided with the holiday season. I finally heard back from the IES in the first week of September. Fortunately it was good news - I had achieved the CEnv designation and no further work was required!

Going through the process has proved extremely valuable, as it has presented an opportunity to reflect on my career to date and recognise how many valuable lessons learned on the journey have shaped my day-to-day approach in my current role. The designation also demonstrates a certain level of competence within my field and is well recognised within the wider industry.

I am indebted to Cundall, who have provided valuable support via their career development programme, and also current and former work colleagues who have provided invaluable support and inspiration. I would highly recommend the CEnv in a Day route for anyone wishing to follow a similar path.