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United Kingdom / Environment / Graduate hydrologist

Michael Rhodes

Michael on a site visit

"Mott MacDonald have a highly respected name in consultancy with exciting projects taking place across the globe."

Why did you decide to join Mott MacDonald?

Following a very wide ranging degree in Environmental Science and an enjoyable year spent working in a small environmental team in the public sector, I wanted to find out what working in the environmental consultancy sector was all about. Mott MacDonald have a highly respected name in consultancy with exciting projects taking place across the globe, the chance to work with and learn from experts in their field sounded like a great first step on the career ladder. I liked the idea of varied project work with an important interdisciplinary and collaborative focus, so I knew a career with Mott MacDonald would be engaging and enjoyable place to work.

What was your first impression of the people at Mott MacDonald?

My first exposure to Mott MacDonald was through careers fairs and talks organised by my university and other professional groups (these are surely the best way for students to expand their horizons and find out what they could be doing in a few years time!). I met a fantastically friendly and enthusiastic hydrogeologist at one of these events who shared her career progress and dutifully listened to mine at the careers fair each year, four years later I was still talking to the same familiar face and I knew Mott MacDonald would be a great place to work.

When I visited for my interview all members of staff from the graduates to the managers were friendly and happy to take a few minutes out from their work to explain their roles and ask about my interests. These first impressions remain the same three years into my role at Mott MacDonald, every office I have visited has this same positive friendly working environment.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about Mott MacDonald?

I have learned a lot about how consultancy works and the importance of relationships in the year I have been at Mott MacDonald so far. Solving an environmental issue or constructing major infrastructure is by no means a simple process. Technical project work and site work is a commodity hard earned by consultancies; proposals, bids, respected track record, defined budgets and good project management are just as important as the technical work itself. This is a whole new dynamic for a graduate to experience. Valuable business can come from good client-consultant relationships, internal clients, secondments or joint venture arrangements.

The nature of consultancy requires a real commitment to teamwork and communication, if you didn't like the people you work with you wouldn't hack it for very long. So it's a good job Mott MacDonald is such a friendly and supportive place to work.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities to friends or family?

I sit in a team of that spans hydrology (surface water) and hydrogeology (groundwater) technical areas. I have worked on a lot of groundwater monitoring projects understanding water quality and water levels for water companies and major infrastructure projects; beyond this I get involved in a range of technical areas investigating rising mine water, landfills, waste management, supervising ground investigations on contaminated land and understanding the impact of water supply on groundwater resources.

What has been your favourite Mott MacDonald social event?

Mott MacDonald is also a great place to make new friends, as a graduate it is good to see a wide range of activities involving everyone, such as the summer party. The Young Professional Excellence (YPE) group also organise day events which combine talks from technical experts and management with lighter hearted networking opportunities over dinner, drinks or punting (when held in Cambridge!). The social network means people are often happy to organise fun events like mountain biking; a good size group of us have headed up to the Lake District and Wales in previous years. The highlight of these has to be a challenging ride round Coniston Water. The hard work pushing a bike up those hills was rewarded with technical and speedy rides down with views over Coniston Water on a super sunny day.

Do you have a hidden talent? If so what is it?

I can play the saxophone and quite like a bit of jazz. I’ve even run a thirty piece big band in the past.

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