When you first meet Tamma Carel you cannot help but notice her absolute passion for the work she delivers through her environmental consultancy and training business. Imvelo Ltd. In sharing her entrepreneurial journey so far with you here, we hope to spread a little of Tamma’s energy and zest a little bit further. She’s an inspiration to us – we hope she is to you too!
1. As a change maker within your industry, tell us a bit more about your background?
I realised my interest in environmental issues from an early age and was first able to explore it during my Year 10 work experience at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary in Lincolnshire – after which I returned voluntarily throughout my GCSE and A-Level summer vacations. I began to become aware of issues regarding conservation and the protection of the environment and from then on my academic decisions were geared to ultimately working within the environmental sector.
I completed my BSc (Joint Honours) in Biology and Psychology in 2010 at Newcastle University, and then returned after one year in industry to complete my MSc in Environmental Consultancy in 2012.
I also received my Practitioner Qualification with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) once I started working as an Environmental Consultant. PIEMA is the professional benchmark for environmental and sustainability professionals who are driving change. This has enabled me to demonstrate my professionalism and competency within the environmental industry and ensures that I remain equipped, connected, fully up-to-date and in touch with learning opportunities.
Following an exciting career working with a number of highly reputable organisations as an Environmental Consultant & Trainer, I was offered the position of ‘In-House Environmental Advisor’ with Able UK (Teesside). This role involved executing a number of legally required environmental conditions for the Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) based in the Humber Estuary. I absolutely loved the challenge and had plenty of opportunity to progress and flourish within the organisation; however a little voice was driving me to set up my own business… so in 2015 I took the leap!
2. What are the challenges you’ve had to overcome with setting up your own business, and how did you address them?
Setting up your own business is hard; the challenges are many. ‘No surprises and planning ahead’ as best you can is probably a mantra you may wish to think about. Making sure you are passionate about what you do really helps. Some of the areas I’ve had to face are;
· You are an expert in your field not in running a business – Take advantage of any training/coaching and support you can get from family, friends and SME development organisations (there are a surprising number out there).
· It’s not straight forward – the ‘red tape’ is horrible. I’ve found having an accountant invaluable and I really recommend you find a good one!
· There are not enough hours in the day, this includes weekends. Having loving & supportive family and friends have made the world of difference here.
· Managing cash-flows is a nightmare – A little part of me dies every I have to phone clients to pay their accounts, this part is not fun.
3. What would you do differently if you could?
Establishing Imvelo Ltd was the most positive decision I have ever made. I truly believe my occupation is a privilege and that sustainability is a universal topic, of monumental importance. I feel very lucky that I get to do what I love every day! So no I would not change anything!
4. What keeps you motivated and positive when things get tough?
I get to do what I love every day! Having family and friends that support me every way they can – and lots and lots of coffee (in my re-useable cup).
5. What advice would you give women who would like to become an environmental consultant?
Men outnumber women in most STEM careers. For example, 33.8% of environmental engineers are women and 17.1% of industrial engineers are women. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard for women to get jobs in those fields. In fact, many companies want to hire and keep qualified women for STEM jobs.
There are challenges, but help is out there. If you’re considering a STEM field, don’t be put off by some of the challenges you may face.
My main advice is: Do what you love and never stop learning!
We live in an information-rich society, and every one of us has access to vast resources, many available online for those who may be interested in STEM subjects. Research is key and while it might not be as enlightening as face-to-face communication with a STEM professional, it certainly does provide a foundation from which they can develop their interest.
As women become more widespread in STEM careers, hopefully more young girls will begin to recognise the additional career opportunities available to them. With more women in the field, it will become more evident to young girls what they can offer the business, industry and the wider world – thereby closing the gender gap and altering the ‘norm’.
6. Who inspires you and why?
Trite as it may seem, I am most inspired by my mother. Throughout my life, I have never been told that I can’t do something because I am a girl. My mother has supported every avenue I wanted to explore, from driving me 2 hours from home to let me get some work experience at the Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary when I was in Year 10, to shipping me off to South Africa during my summer holiday’s so that I could work with sharks, and birds and explore my future career options. Even now, in deciding to set up my business, my mother has jumped on board to support me practically, mentally and emotionally.
As I’ve grown older, I have a new appreciation for the sacrifices that mothers’ make for their children, and I absolutely would not be the woman I am today without her!