We are pleased to welcome Erika Mint, who joined our Sustainability team in May 2022. Erika’s unique career journey has seen her go from primary school teacher to sustainability consultant.
Read on to find out more about her role as a Sustainability Consultant, experience of changing careers, and plans for the future.
What were you doing prior to joining calfordseaden?
I graduated in 1996 with a BEd (Hons) in Physical Education and Science. After graduating, I initially worked as a secondary school teacher and then worked as a primary school teacher for 15 years. Whilst working as a teacher, I was also the SENCO (Special Educational Needs coordinator) at the school.
I felt that I needed a new challenge, so in July 2021, I started a position working at a local authority as an EHCP coordinator. However, this role didn’t feel quite right, and made me realise that I actually needed a complete change of direction with my career. So, when the opportunity arose to join calfordseaden as a Sustainability Consultant in May 2022, I jumped head first and haven’t looked back!
How have you found working at calfordseaden?
The Sustainability and wider M&E team have been so welcoming and everyone is always open to listening to my questions, and providing useful feedback and support.
My role is a combination of on the job learning and more official learning. It is really great to be able to learn while working.
So far, I have worked mainly on measuring and assessing the sustainability of new constructions and considering the assessment criteria. I have also worked on checking the compliance against what the client has provided evidentially, then collating the information and feeding back to the client.
Coming from a teaching position, the flexible working arrangement at calfordseaden has made a huge difference to my work/life balance. Being in the office part-time has been really useful because of the social aspect which is not only great for getting to know my colleagues and work more collaboratively, but also to learn from those around me whether that be from overhearing conversations about projects or being able to ask questions and receive answers instantly.
I feel truly valued as an employee and this encourages to me to work as hard as possible.
What do you enjoy most about your new role?
It is truly so rewarding to be part of such a team that is so important not only to calfordseaden but also to wider society. When we think about sustainability and the change that it’s going to have and is having, I feel privileged to be able to contribute towards that in a positive way.
I guess I have always felt good doing something that has a positive contribution to society and on generations to come. With teaching, it was the tool of education to shape the future of children’s lives. Now, it is looking at the sustainable aspects of buildings and their wider environment.
I also enjoy taking this one step further and considering the experience for the residents and community. Working largely on mixed development schemes in the surrounding boroughs of London, where the areas can be quite densely populated, it is interesting to think of ways to ensure sustainable levels are achieved whilst also making it a lovely place for people to live, rather than ticking the sustainable box.
What are your next steps?
I am proud to have already completed my whole life cycle assessment training. I am working towards completing my BREEAM training in October and then after that I hope to complete my HQM. Once I have gained more environmental experience, I will look to expand my knowledge on the energy aspect of sustainability.
What advice would you give others considering a similar career change?
Having science as part of my teaching degree, I felt I had a fairly strong base level understanding of some of the aspects of the role. Two key transferable skills from my teaching experience that have assisted me in my new role is problem solving and strong communication.
However, I think that the main qualities that you need is motivation and a readiness to learn. It feels good to be the student not the teacher for once, and every day is a school day now!
I have not once felt at a disadvantage to my colleagues at calfordseaden because of my career background. As long as you are ready to take on a new challenge, are willing to learn and have a supportive team behind you, then there is nothing holding you back.