Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I am a black belt in Taekwon-Do and teach at the Aberdeen University Club. I hadn’t planned to try out a martial art. My flat mates at university were keen and dragged me along. In the end, I was the only one that liked it!
Tell us about your career journey so far.
I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do when I finished school. I was interested in the marine environment and looked for any uni courses related to that. I ended up studying Marine and Coastal Resource Management. I learnt about the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) through my studies. So I looked at their website and found they were looking for Flood Risk Management trainees. After an interview I managed to secure a position. Since then I have worked in a few different roles within SEPA and grown my skills.
What was your favourite subject in school and why?
I most enjoyed maths. With maths it was more about logic and understanding. Other subjects required me to remember large amounts of information. That seemed rather boring and I found it difficult to sit, concentrate, repeat and remember information. Maths was sometimes tricky to understand but once I did, it’s straight forward to apply the rules to solve problems.
What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?
Geography: Being interested in the environment is important. Geography is a particularly helpful subject. My focus is on flood risk management, so knowing about the water cycle is also important.
Problem solving: I encounter lots of issues. Knowing who can help and how to ask for support is important. This is a key skill for any project manager.
Team working: As project manager I work with many different people. Being a team player and knowing how to motivate the team is really important. With every project there is a different team, so it’s important to be able to work with different types of people.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I love working with different people and organisations and bringing everyone together to reduce flood risk. Working on projects means that my work changes regularly. I enjoy the variety. I also enjoy helping others succeed. As project manager I can ensure that everyone knows what they are doing and how they fit into the bigger picture. I have an overview of several projects and ensure they are progressing.
What is a normal day in your role like?
Most of my work is done from home on my laptop. I usually have at least one video call per day with colleagues. This is to discuss work load and projects. I support the other team members and ensure the projects are going to plan. If there are any delays or other issues I work out how to get the project back on track.
When I am on call and there is a risk of flooding, then monitoring our river levels and issuing flood warnings becomes the most important task. If I had other work planned, this simply gets put on hold. I am currently also training a colleague to become a flood warning duty officer. So I work through the tasks with her and let her have a go at using our models. The models use rainfall and river level information to predict if flooding is likely.
And what does your job title mean?
A project manager oversees projects. My focus is on projects relating to flooding and reducing flood risk in Scotland. I make sure everyone involved in the project knows what they are doing. I also ensure that any problems are solved by the right people. I report on project progress and issues to senior management.
Every few weeks I am on duty as flood warning duty officer. That means I monitor rain and river levels. If any rivers are predicted to get too high, I issue flood warnings. This ensures that people can take actions to reduce their risk. For example, by moving cars out of the areas at risk of flooding.
Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
Be prepared for flooding by setting up a plan and kit: Floodline kids - Floodline Scotland - Be prepared for flooding
Check if you are at risk of flooding using our flood maps and see if you can receive free flood warnings on our website Flooding | Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)