Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
My career so far: Guest blog by our Certificate of Higher Education Built Environment Studies programme leader, Hazel Lobo
Posted on: 24 February, 2021
I didn’t start out to be a lawyer – it was a profession that found me. Whilst I was on maternity leave with my youngest children, a friend asked for help implementing a new management system that incorporated quality management (my career at that point) with environmental management. I already enjoyed systems and process work, but the environmental standard (ISO 14001) had a strong legal element that ‘hooked’ me.
Law made sense in a way that other things (like maths, for instance) didn’t. So, I retrained and started a new career in environmental law. I quickly found that ‘translating’ legalese into plain English was fun – and something I was good at. So, I became involved in compliance – helping companies understand complex regulations around products, waste, planning and other regulatory issues – the 849 pages of REACH Regulations in 2006/7 was great bedtime reading.
ISO 14001 remained a part of my work, but to a lesser extent. In 2012, I studied for a postgraduate degree in environmental law and, after graduating with distinction, was invited back to teach, part-time, on the waste management module. A new chapter opened in my career.
Move into academia
I discovered that I enjoyed teaching law almost more than I enjoyed practising it. Over the course of a couple of years, my teaching expanded to include other aspects of environmental law (biodiversity and nature conservation, and environmental crime, along with planning, and environmental impacts). I also became more involved in supervising research students and embarked on my own PhD.
I then started supervising research students at UCEM. I joined the main teaching team here in February 2019 and gave up legal practice in May that year to fully pursue teaching. The dual opportunity to share my passion for protecting our future and to help others to succeed in their chosen path towards being part of that protection is both a blessing and a huge privilege.
Protecting our world
Working in the built environment provides a real opportunity for us to shape the future of our world. The places we inhabit, whether as living space, working space, recreational space, or worship space, are so very important to our sense of self. I was fortunate to work on this from a natural environment protection stance but am now seeing it from a built environment development stance.
The juxtaposition of social, economic, and environmental needs is fascinating – and critical for the future of our world. We have a chance to protect that future, to make it better for everyone and I am so lucky to be able to help our students begin to qualify for this. The contribution that you, as built environment professionals, can make to positive changes is not to be underestimated. The future is yours, and you are the future. Getting your qualifications is just the first step in a world-changing career.
The Certificate of Higher Education Built Environment Studies (CertHE)
Not everyone achieves their potential in the secondary school system – for varying reasons – and this can be a barrier to dreams. I have been fortunate in my life to be able to follow my dreams and I am honoured to be in a position to help others do the same through the CertHE.
The programme gives students a chance to demonstrate to themselves that they can study at higher education level, to see whether built environment studies suits them, to gain a full qualification that they can either be proud of in its own right, or use to further advance their education. The programme consists of the first year of an undergraduate degree – all the modules, studied alongside all the other students on all of the relevant programmes.
Not only can you study the subject knowledge, you can network with others either already working in the field or looking to move into the field. You are taught by people who have walked in your shoes. Most of us have studied part-time at some point, and full time at others. Many of the tutors are qualified surveyors, architectural technicians, or lawyers – so we have ‘real world’ practical experience to share, as well as the theoretical underpinning. I look forward to welcoming you into the UCEM learning community – and to helping you to realise your potential, so that you can go on to make a positive difference in the world.