Junior Presidential Blog - Matthew Jack

Junior Presidential Blog - Matthew Jack

Welcome to the first in my series of Junior Presidential blogs. I aim to keep you updated on my activities as JP and those of the wider CIWEM organisation. For this first edition I want to share a little background on myself, explain why CIWEM launched the Junior President role and tell you what I hope to achieve with you this year.

About me:

I come from Greater Manchester in what the government term an ‘urban area of social deprivation’ but what we would call a rough council estate. I graduated from Salford University with a BA.Hons in Military History in 2011 and found my employment prospects following this to be extremely limited so I decided to apply for apprenticeships. While applying, I found an apprenticeship in Civil Engineering advertised which blew my mind. At school we were told about apprenticeships in trades such as tiling and bricklaying, but I was 22 before I knew that apprenticeships in Civil Engineering ever existed. A few weeks later I began my first day in the WEM industry as a junior technician preventing pollution from entering watercourses from cross-connections. I loved it! I felt like I had a career rather than a job. For the first time in my working life, I felt I had a real purpose.

Over the next 9 years, I completed my apprenticeship, moved companies and gained industry experience. I gained EngTech status from The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), worked with Engineers for Overseas Development in my spare time and as my work became more water and environmental management (WEM) focused, I joined CIWEM.

In 2017 I was awarded CIWEM’s Young Environmentalist of the Year, obtained C.Wem and C.Env in 2018, joined the Board of CIWEM as a co-opted Early Career Trustee in 2019 and became a Trustee in 2020. I currently work as Strategic Consulting European Head of Quality for Jacobs and sit on the non-Exec board of a recycling SME.

I feel lucky to have been offered the opportunities that people from my background seldom access. CIWEM and the WEM community have allowed me to achieve things I never thought possible.

The Junior President role:

The position of Junior President has been created to solidify CIWEM’s commitment to age and experience diversity in the institution, engage and enthuse our early-career professionals and act as a conduit between all the different ‘generations’ within our membership. CIWEM is a relevant and diverse organisation and in the battle against the climate and ecological emergency, we must all be inclusive. The generation coming through schools, colleges and universities now are extremely environmentally conscious. The JP role includes reaching out to young people and increasing awareness of CIWEM as an institution that can facilitate their development as WEM professionals and engage them in solutions to the climate and ecological emergency. Part of my remit is to wed the enthusiasm to the experience of our long-standing members.

My Goals

A big part of my motivation is giving back to a community of professionals that have given me so much. I want others to be offered the opportunities I have been regardless of age, experience, ethnic or socio-economic background, sexuality, gender identity or disability. I want to share the value I’ve found in CIWEM membership to those choosing a degree or starting their career so they can be fully informed at an age when I was not and believe that there is no ceiling to what they can achieve.

Areas of opportunity for me include:

  • Collaborate with STEAM organisations to improve the visibility of CIWEM
  • Engage with CIWEM’s Student and TechCIWEM members to help promote the value of these professional qualifications and lifelong multidisciplinary development
  • Work with CIWEM’s branches, networks and groups to identify the potential for increased engagement with STEAM job fairs and universities
  • Help CIWEM develop our mentoring network including reverse mentoring

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please reach out to me if you have any ideas on how we can work together to achieve the above or even if you just want a chat. I’m always happy to talk about CIWEM and hear from our members! My email is matthewciwem@outlook.com and I am also active on LinkedIn.

Matthew Jack

CIWEM Junior President

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