Clare Rodgers, Environment Agency

Job title – Operational Unit Manager (North East), Environment Agency

Qualifications – University of Cambridge (BA (Hons) Geography), Lancaster University (MRes Science of the Environment), Fellow of CIWEM, Chartered Water and Environment Manager, Chartered Scientist and Chartered Environmentalist

What do you do?

I lead the Environment Agency’s National Environment Assessment and Sustainability (NEAS) team for Yorkshire and North East England. I work with the NEAS leadership team, EA colleagues and local delivery partners to develop and deliver our ambitious sustainability strategy for the Environment Agency’s capital FCERM programme. I am responsible for a team of eighteen staff in Leeds who manage environmental risk and deliver environmental improvements at project and programme level, and I ensure that they feel happy and supported in their work.

What do you enjoy about working in FCERM?

My current roles brings together the things I really love: leading people and helping them develop, and working on things that make a real improvement to the water environment. I’m relatively new to FCERM, having previously worked as a freshwater scientist for a nature conversation organisation, a water company and two environmental consultancies. In NEAS my team is putting sustainability into action to create the best outcomes for both people and wildlife from the design and construction of flood risk schemes. The challenges and opportunities we face every day help us explore what it means for us be sustainable as a society – and it’s very exciting to be part of that. 

You recently wrote an article for the CIWEM magazine about the proportion of women on interview panels. Why do you see that as important?

I’ve been interviewing Chartership candidates for CIWEM for a few years now and really enjoy it. Like most interviewers, I’m extremely nosey and love hearing about other people’s work, as well as helping them to get recognition for what they do.

However, I felt very frustrated by the low proportion of female interviewers on these panels. Around half of CIWEM’s Chartership interviews don’t have a female panellist, which is unheard of in other contexts such as the recruitment I do at the EA. Around 30% (and rising) of applicants for Chartered membership are female but this isn’t yet reflected in the balance of people interviewing them.

How did you go about writing your article and what response have you had?

I wanted to raise awareness of this issue and to encourage more women to consider interviewing roles, so I approached the CIWEM magazine editor about publishing an article on this topic in the upcoming “Women’s Takeover” edition of the magazine. She was very enthusiastic about my proposal, so I reached out to fellow interviewers in my network (male and female) and talked to them about what they enjoyed about interviewing, and what they thought CIWEM could do to encourage more female panellists in future. 

Since publication, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response that this article generated from right across the sector. Several women have also approached me directly to discuss how they might get involved as interviewers in future, which is particularly amazing. I make a point now when I assist friends and colleagues with their applications to encourage them to think about their next steps with CIWEM after becoming Chartered, including becoming interviewers. I think the move to online interviews has been particularly game-changing in terms of making interviewing more accessible to a more diverse mix of people, and am keen to see us build on that to improve the gender balance in the future.

For further information about becoming an interviewer with CIWEM, see https://www.ciwem.org/membership/become-an-assessor-or-interviewer. Clare can be contacted directly to discuss the role on clare.rodgers1@environment-agency.gov.uk.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? Trust in yourself and believe that you will get something great out of putting yourself forward for something you would love to do – even if it might not be in the way you expected.