Environment, ESG, People Spotlight, Sustainable Legacies

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting our remediation practice director for United Kingdom and Ireland (UK&I), providing an insight into his inspiration and work.

Iain has over 20 years’ domestic and international experience as a chartered environmental specialist. Leading the UK&I’s remediation team, Iain is responsible for setting the strategy and direction of our practice and ensuring project delivery to our clients. The team of more than 100 specialists work across a wide range of sectors and clients on contaminated land, waste and sustainable remediation projects.

Tell us what inspired you to join the industry.

I have always had a keen interest in the outdoors and the environment, so I went for a generalist degree in environmental management where I got to gain practical experience in addition to pursuing academic study. I ended up working for a small engineering consultancy working on brownfield sites. The combination of onsite work, office-based reporting and research really ticked the boxes for me, so I moved into the environmental consultancy field.

What is your favourite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

It has been 2 years since I joined AECOM and I have had the privilege of working on some fantastic projects. My highlights to date have been supporting major new decarbonisation projects in the Northeast of England helping the government’s goal to reach Net Zero by 2050. Projects at this scale are a first in the UK and are very complex.

The best bit about these projects are their multidisciplinary nature and collaboration with colleagues across planning, geotechnics, ecology, archaeology, transport, and energy, as well as the external stakeholders involved. It is really amazing the depth and breadth of our expertise in AECOM and how we bring this to bear for our clients. Our work has provided many key learnings including elevated levels of collaboration, thinking about internal and external stakeholders needs and drivers.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

I focus on bringing disused and contaminated land back into positive social, economic, and environmental use. Our projects leave a legacy by improving the environment and biodiversity through clean-up of contaminated land, which can lead to the future provision of better-quality housing, employment opportunities and improved links to nature – I’m lucky that most of my projects helps the communities I work in directly.

Share a piece of career advice.

Sometimes people are too quick to say no. Even if an opportunity doesn’t sound good initially, don’t turn it down immediately and try to explore it. This has led me to overseas, including working for industrial clients in the UAE, the Municipalities in Kuwait and BAPCO in Bahrain, and working on some fantastic projects which has led to a very fulfilling career so far!

Originally published Apr 5, 2023

Author: Iain McBurnie