A day in the life of a Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Senior Advisor

Becky George MCIWEM C.WEM lets us into a typical day working as a Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Senior Advisor at the Environment Agency.

Read about a typical day in the life of various professionals working across the water and environment sector. Here, Chartered member Becky George tells us what it's like working as a Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Senior Advisor at the Environment Agency.

Becky has worked in the flood and coastal risk management sector for 16 years and has an MSc in Flood Risk Management and a BSc (Hons) in Geography.

What does a typical day look like for you?

No day is the same, but typically my day involves MS Teams calls with colleagues across the organisation and external partners, where I provide technical leadership and specialist advice. I also review and write briefing material for senior managers and the wider organisation.

I’m also a professional CIWEM mentor to two graduates on the Environment Agency’s Environment and Science Graduate Training Scheme. Plus, at this time of year, I’m busy organising the Women in Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (WiFCERM) Awards.

What does your team look like?

My team is the Surface Water and Water Industry team. We’re a small team in the Strategy and National Adaptation department in the Environment Agency’s National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Directorate.

We lead the Environment Agency in three main areas:

  • working with the water industry to deliver the National FCERM Strategy,
  • leading for FCERM on Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans,
  • ensuring that through our strategic overview role for all sources of flooding, we show bolder strategic leadership for surface water flooding

What is the purpose of your job role?

Of the three main work areas my team leads – the purpose of my role is to lead the area related to showing bolder strategic leadership on surface water flooding. My job is to provide more clarity to our internal teams and external partners on our role and the activities we currently do to deliver it.

I work with others to understand the barriers to managing surface water flooding and how we can work together to overcome them. I’m also taking forward recommendations from external reviews such as CIWEM’s 2023 surface water management review, the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2022 review and the recent Public Accounts Committee hearing on flood resilience.

Tell us about a project you have been working on recently.

I’m currently managing a project of two workstreams regarding our ambition to show bolder strategic leadership on surface water flooding. One of these is overseeing a programme of shorter-term improvement activities the Environment Agency is delivering over the next year, which is in addition to what we’ve already committed to in the National FCERM Strategy Roadmap.

The other project workstream involves working with others to identify and shape a programme of activities we could explore further and deliver over the longer term, taken across the whole risk management cycle.

The objective of this project and both of its workstreams is to further enable and support others to manage the risk of surface water flooding now and in the future.

What do you love about what you do?

So many things, but I’ll try and narrow it down! One of the best things is being able to shape an important work area. The risk of surface water flooding is increasing with population growth and climate change, so my role gives me a great opportunity to work with others to make a real difference in helping make places more resilient.

I love that I get to work with a wide range of people from multiple organisations and backgrounds. This includes experts both across the Environment Agency in our National and local Area operational teams plus also externally, such as in other risk management authorities, CIWEM, consultancies and Defra.

I also really enjoy the opportunities I have outside my day job, especially being part of the WiFCERM committee, leading their awards and mentoring young professionals just starting their careers.

Are there any challenges affecting your work?

One of the main challenges affecting my work is the wider issue of skills and capability across the FCERM sector, which is a challenge that is affecting the whole industry. I’ve worked for the Environment Agency in different roles in FCERM for over 16 years and I truly believe this is a fantastic and hugely rewarding sector to work in.

So, I’m pleased that I can help support, enable, and develop others through my role at the Environment Agency, as a professional CIWEM mentor and my work with WiFCERM.

What skills and competencies do you need for your job?

The key skills and competencies I need for my job are the ability to be agile and adaptable in an evolving work area. I also need to be a good communicator and collaborator in working with a broad range of people and organisations on a cross-cutting topic. Being able to see the bigger picture and remain strategic whilst working at pace is also important.

What would you say to someone wanting to do your role?

One piece of advice I would give is to build and maintain your network – having a wide range of people you can call on for advice and who can identify opportunities which you might not have found or considered yourself is invaluable.

This article was first published on Thursday 28 March.

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