Meet Graduate member: Emily Shipton

Meet Emily Shipton GradCIWEM, Flood Modelling Advisor at the Environment Agency.

Below we learn more about Emily's career, what Graduate membership means to them and their advice to anyone looking to join.

Years of experience

Six years in the flooding sector


BSc (Hons) - Geography

CIWEM involvement

Member of CIWEM's Early Careers Network and early-career member of the Trustee board

What's your day to day job role?

I enjoy assessing evidence from flood models to recommend flood risk management solutions for the benefit of the public. This can range from designing a new flood defence, to appraising the feasibility of Natural Flood Management, to avoiding inappropriate development on floodplains by reviewing Flood Risk Assessments.

I am also an incident responder which means, if floods occur, I take up my role as Modelling Technical Cell Lead where emergency simple flood models might be required to assess an asset blockage or breach.

What inspired you towards a career in this sector?

My love of the outdoor environment. My annual childhood holiday was always to the Lake District, and I remember being in complete awe of the stunning scenery, in particular the contrast of the brooks and rivers in different seasons and years. They could be devoid of water in a dry Summer but gushing after heavy storms in Autumn / Winter.

I carried through this interest in school and university by pursuing Geography and knew that I wanted to drive my career forward in the water sector.

What is the most exciting part of your career?

Knowing that I am doing work to tackle the climate crisis and manage flood risk every day, for the benefit of the public is what motivates me every morning - I like to think of myself as a ‘flood-fighter’ rather than a flood modelling advisor.

Outside of my day job, I enjoy being on CIWEM’s trustee board. I believe we can only solve the sector’s greatest challenges by casting our perspective beyond our own silo, and this position gives me a great sense of personal fulfilment.

What is the greatest challenge the sector is facing?

Nurturing talent and increasing diversity in the sector. Young people growing up in the world are more informed about climate change than ever and may have different skills to the current workforce such as entrepreneurial flair.

We need to move away from simply assuming that only university graduates have the prerequisite knowledge and talent to succeed in the wealth of roles in the sector. Addressing this will help improve the wider issue of a lack of diversity in the sector, although this certainly isn’t a problem which can be solved by one action. It will take the whole sector to drive this forward.

After all, it is often the most deprived and marginalized communities in the world who are most impacted by water and environmental problems – we need the sector to reflect our communities. That’s why it’s great that CIWEM has recently introduced new networks such as WEM Pride, and is currently developing a D&I strategy.

Why did you apply for membership and how will it support you in your career?

CIWEM joins the dots and enables me to break out of my relative silo. When I really dug into the benefits, being professionally accredited is just one advantage, but where I think CIWEM really adds value is when in fact individuals add value to CIWEM by contributing to the groups and connecting with likeminded individuals.

By becoming a Graduate member and being engaged with the institution, it has exposed me to what senior leaders are thinking about and key industry drivers at an early stage, whilst developing skills I wouldn’t ordinarily use in my day job.

Added to that, I am now able to make the most of CIWEM’s mentoring platform to support my chartership application and think about my career more widely which has been invaluable.

What advice would you give to someone considering CIWEM membership?

Think about your career motivation. Yes, you can apply to CIWEM simply to become accredited, but there are much bigger influences you can have on the sector by engaging and shaping the institution, and indeed this will enhance your career in far more wide-reaching ways.

So become a contributor and not just a member.

To learn more about all CIWEM membership grades, including Graduate, visit our dedicated membership page.

The next application deadline is 09 June 2022. Here you can find the rest of our 2022 application deadlines.

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