SIMON REID, 24, GRADUATED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER WITH A 2:1 IN BIOLOGY. HE WENT ON TO STUDY A POSTGRADUATE DEGREE IN ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AT THE INSTITUTE FOR DEVELOPMENT POLICY IN MANCHESTER.
HE NOW WORKS AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ENGAGEMENT OFFICER FOR CHARITY EARTHWATCH,
(WWW.EARTHWATCH.ORG) WHICH HELPS PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THEIR SURROUNDINGS BETTER.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO CHOOSE THIS CAREER?
I lived in Pakistan and India during my middle and high school years. In some of the cities like Delhi there was poverty everywhere and the environment was really suffering. We lived in New Delhi, it’s a fantastic city but there’s a great deal of poverty and the river running through the city is completely polluted. I saw the link between people, poverty, environmental degradation and how interconnected they are. You need to educate people to understand their environment.
HOW DID PAST EXPERIENCES HELP YOU?
Next to my school in India was a slum area and once a week we’d get the children into the school, teach them computer programmes or just play cricket with them. Then, in Manchester, I was involved
with a group called Student Action and we went out once or twice a week to a bridge where homeless people used to convene. We’d feed them and try to find out where they were staying or if they were sleeping rough. We were there to provide them with support. All these experiences helped me learn how to speak, work and listen to all sorts of people.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ROLE INVOLVE?
I try to engage the public, businesses and other parties with environmental causes. Earthwatch has 130 different research expeditions where volunteers learn about the environment. One day I could be arranging for members of a big corporation to be getting involved with research projects like studying climate change or forest canopies – and on other days go to schools and teach children about growing cocoa in Ghana or frogs in Australia. Having scientific knowledge helps when you’re talking about problems like climate change and human-animal conflict, it helps me communicate the message more clearly.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE AN ETHICAL CAREER?
When I was applying for jobs out of university it was very important for me. I think it attracts people of a similar mindset and it’s been very easy to fit in at Earthwatch because everyone’s working towards one common goal. I think it’s also very important for people who are interested in the environment and seeing organisations work ethically to get involved for working with the less-ethical organisations.
If big companies want to keep attracting young people like myself who want work for an ethically minded company then they’re going to have to get involved with CSR and improving their environment, otherwise they’re not going to be attracting some of the best graduates coming out of university.