Jobs in Focus - Environmental Management Officer at Cumberland Council
Working for a Council is a unique experience. With a strong focus on community interests and a wide variety of divisions and job types, a Local Government organization is unlike anything you’ll find in the private sector.
So, we decided it’s time to discover more about what it’s like to work for a Council, straight from the source. Recently, we sat down with Tim Nguyen, an Environmental Management Officer from Cumberland Council, to understand a little bit more about the projects they’re working on and to get a few pieces of advice for job applicants.
With a population of over 200,000, Cumberland Council is one of our bigger advertising partners. Having recently been formed in 2016 as a result of three Council amalgamations, Tim and his team are determined to bring environmental awareness and sustainability to the forefront of the organizations culture. With the threat of climate change, rapid urban development and biodiversity loss, the work Tim and his team do is more crucial than ever.
A Diverse Career So Far
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Business, Tim started his career as a graduate with Sydney Water working as a Community Relations Officer. The role allowed him to learn the in’s and outs of a wide variety of business units. More importantly, Tim got his first taste of working directly with the community, which sparked a lifelong passion.
It was in this role that Tim started working directly with environmental scientists on a variety of different projects; including water quality, air testing and assessing environmental plans. He developed an appreciation for environmental science and proceeded to start studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Management.
Tim’s passion for community engagement led him to a career in Local Government. Starting out as a Governance Officer at Marrickville Council, he soon moved to London to work as a Resource and Recycling Officer. Finally, after a few years abroad, Tim returned home to take on the role of Environmental Management Officer at Cumberland Council.
Having worked across a variety of roles within Local Government, Tim understands the nature of the Council as an organization. He understands the challenges associated with large organizations but has found himself in a role that allows him to drive environmental change throughout the entire council.
So, What Does an Environmental Management Officer Do?
As an Environmental Management Officer, Tim and his team are focused on five key areas of environmental management; biodiversity, water and energy efficiency, waste and litter, water and air quality and corporate sustainability.
To be more specific, Environmental Management is the decision-making process that guides an organisation towards desirable environmental outcomes. This is achieved through recognising challenges and constraints and identifying the most feasible options for achieving environmental goals. Tim and his team strive to incorporate ecologically sustainable development principles into Council’s decision-making processes to help Council address current and emerging environmental issues.
For Tim, that means his team is responsible for a wide variety of tasks and projects. He’s regularly involved in writing strategies and frameworks that direct the community and organization to move towards an environmental vision of a clean, green and sustainable environment for current and future generations. Much of what Tim does is overseeing and advising on projects to ensure they deliver their long-term Environmental Management Framework. Prior to the council amalgamation, neither council had ever had any document like this. The document outlines a range of principles that will help the council make environmental decisions going forward, with the objective of striving for a ‘clean and green’ community.
Exciting Projects in The Works
While Cumberland Council may still be a young council, it certainly isn’t waiting around for other councils to do the grunt work. Tim is heavily involved in a number of grassroots community projects that seek to inform the public about sustainability and preserve the local environment. From the free plant giveaway initiative, to partnering with UNSW to deliver Citizen Science projects, to the habitat stepping stones program and sustainability events, it’s safe to say Cumberland Council are proactive about environmental sustainability.
Perhaps the most exciting project Tim is delivering, is the development of Council’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. While many of us don’t consider the state of our ecosystem’s biodiversity on a daily basis, Tim is working on a strategy to help protect biodiversity over the next 10 years. Biodiversity is the variety of all living things, which he likes to call ‘the spice of life’. This forms part of the ecosystem we live in and is what gives us the benefit of clean air, clean water, healthy plants and healthy native animals.
What Should a Job Seeker Know?
When asked for a piece of advice for job seekers looking to get into local government, Tim stressed that he feels it is important to get your foot in the door, even if it’s not your first choice. Within councils, there is always potential for movement between divisions of the organizations. In fact, that’s what Tim has done regularly throughout his career. So, the message is clear, if you aren’t successful in applying for your dream job, try applying for a similar role or for the council you want to work for. Long-term, you’ll be much more likely to be able to move within the council than externally.
Once you get in to a local government role however, you can anticipate a great work environment with plenty of health and wellbeing benefits. Of course, like many of the local government staff we’ve spoken to, Tim spoke highly of the work-life balance and flexibility. On top of that, Tim was glowing in his praise of the experienced members of his team. Not only are his team members always eager to share their wisdom, other councils in their network are always happy to provide feedback and advice on projects they’re working on.
While Tim doesn’t have an official mentor, he’s got a strong support network of senior staff that are willing to provide support and technical expertise for his projects. At Cumberland Council, it’s about doing good things for the community, not about who’s doing it.
We hope that sharing Tim’s success has given you a deeper understanding of what it’s like to work in Environmental Management at a Council. By now, you’ve probably realized the potential impact you could have by working in local government.
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