I studied BSc in Geography at Swansea University before working in External Relations at the Environment Agency. 

I then studied an MSc in Environmental Policy and Management which led to a graduate role as a Sustainability Coordinator working for a large housing provider. I spent five years there and worked my way up to Group Environment Manager before joining Willmott Dixon as Sustainability Manager in September 2015. 

The key skills for a sustainability professional include influencing, communication, commercial awareness, strategic thinking, technical understanding, a bit of creativity and a lot of resilience!

Based Hertfordshire
Employer Willmott Dixon

What does your role involve?

My role supports the business to achieve its sustainability ambitions and embed sustainability in all we do. Once construction starts, I support operational teams with sustainability related activities on site, this might include effectively managing waste, energy and materials or measuring, monitoring and analysing environmental key performance indicators or coming up with new and innovative ways of working that can have positive commercial, environmental and/or social impacts. I also support our Environment Manager to ensure we remain compliant with environmental legislation. 

I like that construction is a dynamic, fast paced industry. As someone relatively new to the sector, it’s extremely exciting to see a project progress and to witness all the different trades and skills that come together to make the project a success and also how quickly things can happen.

Alex Roberts

Sustainability Manager

What's your working day like?

It sounds cliché but no day is ever the same. One day, I could be carrying out a site visit in my boots in sunshine, wind or rain; the next, I could be in a suit presenting to a customer on our approach to sustainability. Or I could be sat at my computer with a cup of tea analysing data or writing a tender response, so it really is a varied role. 


What do you like about your job?

I like that construction is a dynamic, fast paced industry. As someone relatively new to the sector, it’s extremely exciting to see a project progress and to witness all the different trades and skills that come together to make the project a success and also how quickly things can happen.

I enjoy the variety of my job, we work on different types of projects in a variety of locations and I work across our region meaning everyday really is different. I enjoy the fact that I get to be outside on a regular basis and get to work with different people and with different challenges every day.


What skills do you need in your job?

You need to be able to influence others to change the way they work and communicate complex ideas in a simple way. Different roles use different language and have different priorities, so you need to be able recognise these and adapt your communication style and approach accordingly.  

You also need commercial awareness and an ability to think strategically to be able to come up with pragmatic solutions that make business sense. The most unsustainable thing for a business to do is implement a project or initiative that puts its future at risk. 


What are you most proud of in your career?

I wrote a masters dissertation on climate change adaptation in social housing for my previous employer which led to us being involved in an innovative research project with some world leading professionals from industry and academia in climate change adaptation in the built environment. Our project was featured in a United Nation publication and was at the forefront of the sector at the time. I presented the findings at several National conferences. 


What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in construction?

I’ve come to construction relatively late in my career and I wish I’d known about the opportunities within the sector earlier on. Whilst I’ve studied a lot, I don’t think this is a necessity, as many of the skills can be picked up through experience, apprentices or trainee programmes.

I’d advise anyone interested in a career in construction to get in touch with construction companies as many of them will offer work experience opportunities or placements. These are a great way to get an insight into the sector, boost your CV and improve your chances of getting a job in construction the future. Finally don’t underestimate the diverse nature of professions within the construction industry.