Why did you choose to join Mott MacDonald?
I first heard about Mott MacDonald through my involvement in Engineers Without Borders at university, where a number of staff from the Cambridge office volunteered their time and skills to provide training in water and sanitation for international development projects. It was immediately clear that the company was committed to leading the way in sustainability, had strong ethical values and attracted people who want to make a positive impact with their careers – all attributes that I share. The extensive opportunities they’d had to undertake international work at relatively early stages in their careers were an added bonus!
What is the best thing about your job?
The huge variety of projects that I work on, ranging from how we can deliver lower-carbon infrastructure in the UK to providing more sustainable sanitation services to the four billion latrine users around the world. Each and every day is different, exciting and challenging.
How would you describe the culture of Mott MacDonald?
Committed to excellence – both in the quality of work we deliver, and in developing our people. The support I’ve had to develop my skills and career has been absolutely incredible, and it has all been tailored to me, around my particular interests of sustainability and international development. Excellent opportunities have been presented to me at every turn, ranging from influencing government policy at a very early stage in my career to defining how Mott MacDonald engages our young professionals in the drive to achieve excellence in sustainability.
What has been your most memorable project?
I’ve recently finished working on the Infrastructure Carbon Review – a government report commissioned by the Green Construction Board to demonstrate the link between carbon reductions and cost savings in UK infrastructure. As part of this fascinating project I reviewed over 200 pieces of literature related to delivering lower-carbon services, looking at topics including metrics, governance, innovation and procurement. I also developed a model of the whole-life carbon of UK infrastructure split across five sectors (Communications, Energy, Transport, Waste and Water), including forecasts for future greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 and 2050 to tie into key policy decision horizons. The work was described as having the potential to “Change the whole basis for how we discuss infrastructure in the UK and inform significant changes over the next 5 years”. The fact I had the opportunity to engage with senior colleagues from across the industry and help to influence government policy at such an early stage in my career speaks wonders for the culture of Mott MacDonald.
Have you been involved in any charities or done any volunteer work, please explain your involvement?
I started an organisation called the ecohouse initiative while at university and we recently registered as a charity. The initiative exists to help tackle some of the big problems in the world – urbanisation, climate change and poverty. We work closely with the University of Cambridge, where we have a group of dedicated researchers in the Departments of Engineering, Architecture and Land Economy. To date, over 25 Masters research projects have been completed, with a number of PhDs and Postdocs on-going. This research supports a group of more than a hundred students who are developing low-cost and more sustainable designs for the urban developing world. The fruits of their labours are implemented by the charity TECHO, working with thousands of communities in 20 countries across Latin America. Projects to date have included improvements to the TECHO transitional house and the development of a prototype permanent house, as well as educational technology, software apps to improve the efficiency of surveys and a low-cost sensor system to collect data from areas without internet access. As one of the founders and subsequently a charity trustee, I’ve established the organisation myself, devoting many evenings and weekends to the project over the last two and a half years, as well as recently involving a number of colleagues from Mott MacDonald.
What is a random fact about you?
I am a keen amateur lepidopterist, having visited Ecuador three times in the last six years to study its Andean butterflies. In 2010 I led a scientific expedition to remote cloud forest of the Cordillera del Condor, described by Conservation International as probably having “the richest flora of any area this size in the New World.” Over the course of nine weeks we discovered eight potential new species or sub-species of butterfly, as well as 22 previously recorded in Ecuador from three or fewer sites, 30 first records for different provinces and 94 extensions to species’ reported altitudinal ranges. A butterfly I discovered in 2007 was named after me by a collaborator – Daedalma dinias radfordi, and my first scientific paper, describing one of the new subspecies I found in 2010, is currently under peer review.