As the External Affairs Officer for the Woodland Trust, Catherine works with local authorities to put policies and strategies in place to protect and restore woodland areas across the South West. We love Catherine’s passion for preserving nature and campaigning for sustainability in our woodlands!
We caught up with her to find out how she got into her role and hear about her experiences as a woman working in the sustainability sector…
1. As a changemaker within your sector, tell us a bit more about your background?
I have a first class degree in media and comms but quickly realised broadcast journalism was not for me. I have a strong sense of social justice so took on a role as Campaigns Officer for Shelter and thrived in that role. After working in government and for the National Housing Federation, I realised I’d lost my campaigning edge when I followed a housing career. I took a leap into the environmental sector and now work on policy and advocacy for the Woodland Trust.
2. What are the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get you where you are today and how did you address them?
Like so many women, I didn’t really encounter a gender gap until I became a mother. The lack of decent part-time roles for highly skilled working mothers is a challenge. I addressed this by being the best candidate for the role and negotiating hard.
3. What unique qualities do you bring as a woman that makes a difference in your sector?
I’m not sure these are unique to women but my personal skills are around good instincts, quick analysis, managing complexity and communicating clearly. If you want to get something done, give it to a busy working mum – it’ll get done quickly and efficiently with minimum fuss.
4. What advice would you give women who want to create more impact and influence in the workplace?
Talk about your strengths, not your shortcomings, revel in your successes not your failures and a bit of self-promotion of achievements is a good thing. Be aware that you might have to find ways to amplify your opinions/approach and that of other women around you. If you know you are right, hold your line.
5. What successes have you witnessed that we should all be celebrating?
For women: have you watched any sport lately? Women coaches, women presenters, women pundits – great to see. For the environment: The Blue Planet plastics storm hit the sweet spot.
6. When it feels like the world is going crazy, what keeps your vision and passion alive?
Fresh air and green spaces. We all need it. There isn’t enough of it, for people or for wildlife. Being in nature revives us and reminds us why we need to keep fighting to protect and enhance it.
7. Who inspires you and why?
My great-grandmother, who travelled the world in a time when women didn’t. She died aged 103 when I was in my early teens. I wish I had been mature enough to listen to all her stories and to have benefited from her wisdom.