It is now 10 years since I joined Ecus, initially as Principal Heritage Consultant to relaunch and establish a heritage team as part of the wider environmental services the company offered. I clearly remember the feelings of nervousness and apprehension as I set off at 5.30 am on that cold, dark January Monday morning to drive the 180 miles to Sheffield to start a new chapter in my career.
What was I thinking? I was leaving a secure job with a well-established archaeological unit to go it alone (well for the start at least), but what I saw was the great opportunity to build a fantastic heritage offering from scratch, the exciting prospect of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team and learning from other environmental professionals, and the chance to make a contribution to sustainable development.
At the time, I felt the heritage and archaeology profession was sitting on the fringes of the wider sustainable development debate, believing they were distinct or different from the discussion – us versus them. But my belief has always been that ‘we’ collectively as professionals all contribute to the natural and historic environment. Ecus gave me the chance to develop that approach and I have had the opportunity to work with fantastic staff and clients on interesting and challenging projects over the past decade. During this time I progressed to Technical Director for Heritage, and to Regional Director overseeing the development of a team in the South East of England.
When I joined Ecus the entire company was located in a small office on the edge of Sheffield. After ten months of commuting to Sheffield from Hampshire, I was invited to open a South East office and build a multi-disciplinary team from our Basingstoke home. That team has grown to include an office in Milton Keynes and we will be relocating to a bigger office in Basingstoke soon (watch this space), with an eye to opening more regional offices over the coming years. Ecus now has 10 offices spread from Edinburgh to Exeter and we’ve just acquired Naturally Wild, an ecological consultancy based in Stockton-on-Tees who, along with Northern Archaeological Associates (now Ecus Archaeology) give us a stronger presence in the North East as well as supporting our other regional teams.
With the formation of Cura Terrae, I have been given another opportunity within the company to continue with the principles I started, and the chance to take Ecus forward to our next chapter as Strategy Director.
My final thoughts are – yes it can feel daunting to make a major switch mid-career or perhaps leaving somewhere you feel comfortable, but as you can see Ecus gave me the chance to run with the ball and find the route to where I am today. We’re proud to support our staff in achieving their goals and we work together under the vision of the company to make a positive difference to our environment and the people that live in it.