Meet new Chartered member: Divesh Mistry

Divesh Mistry, MCIWEM C.WEM is one of 26 new Chartered Water and Environmental Manager's from the June 2021 application deadline.

Below we learn more about Mistry's career, what CIWEM Chartership means to him and his advice to anyone considering applying.

What's your day to day job role?

I recently started as a senior hydrologist for Tonkin and Taylor in Auckland, New Zealand. My previous role was at the Environment Agency where I was a water resources specialist in Solent and South Downs. In that role I was also a Flood Warning duty officer, issuing flood warnings to protect property and safeguard life. This involved working in incident rooms during major flooding events and working at all hours to monitor river levels.

Daily activities in the Environment Agency included managing and providing technical inputs to the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), authoring the area drought plan, drought permit determination, area drought coordination and strategic water resources planning through the review of water company plans.

In my current role at Tonkin and Taylor I am starting to be involved in several projects, including natural hazard management and planning, flood impact assessments and modelling studies. Typical day to day activities could include reviewing reports, site visits, completing analysis on flow data, generating inputs for complex modelling, report writing, project management and knowledge sharing.

What inspired you towards a career in this sector?

I always had a passion for the environment, spending time outdoors exploring New Zealand when I was a teenager. I went to university looking for a career path where I wouldn’t be tied to a desk. Naturally I ended up studying physical geography and environmental science.

As I progressed through my degree I became increasingly fascinated with freshwater management and the interaction between empirical evidence and policy making. This led me to completing my MSc looking at how a small community implemented their own water supply in Hokianga, New Zealand. The thesis helped me better understand the consequences of policy and highlighted how water is central not just to the environment but also communities.

I continue to be inspired by the profound positive impact good decisions can have for the environment and society. Addressing the climate crisis, by being involved in tough decision-making is highly rewarding. Creating tangible beneficial outcomes such as new habitat, improved water quality and safeguarding water supplies inspires me daily.

What is the most exciting part of your career?

Helping to address the climate crisis. I often feel overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and inaction of humanity but am comforted knowing that nearly every day I am directly involved in the change required to reverse the destructive impacts of industrialisation over the last two centuries. Frameworks such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) provide an overarching structure which allows water managers to demonstrate improvements overtime.

Seeing this change is probably the most exciting part of my career and knowing that without the work of water and environmental managers, environments would continue to deteriorate under the pressures from economic growth, population growth and over-consumption. This will hopefully leave a legacy which will last longer than my lifetime, and improvements to local environments will show people that the life-supporting services of the planet are the most valuable thing we have.

What do you think is the greatest challenge the sector is facing?

The long-standing issue of addressing environmental externalities remains the most significant challenge in my opinion. Creating the economic and political landscape to confront the challenges of today and tomorrow will be fundamental to addressing the climate crisis. Often the solutions already exist or are straightforward from a conceptual point of view, but there is not the political appetite to implement change as it may be perceived that society and/or the economy are not ready for change.

Such ‘controversial’ but necessary changes could include increased levies on polluting corporations, prosecution for ecocide, a plastic tax, banning deep sea trawling, geotagging all fishing nets, subsidising environmentally sensitive food production and penalising destructive practices, reducing waste and over-consumption and a carbon non-proliferation treaty (similar to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty). Confronting costs placed on the environment by society and addressing them head on together as a global society with urgency will be the greatest challenge in the next decade and beyond. Solutions are the easy bit, change is hard.

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

To be part of a global network of like-minded individuals who adhere to a set of ethics and principles. Being chartered shows commitment to the profession, and a belief that by working together as water and environmental managers we can create positive lasting change. It extends beyond the organisation you are working for on the day and allows you to think beyond your own goals and aspirations. Effectively, how your knowledge and skills are contributing to creating a more sustainable world.

Being part of CIWEM will support my career because it provides access to new content, exciting events/talks, and an international network of highly skilled professionals. For example, in 2018 I was shortlisted for the CIWEM photographer of the year. Having just moved back to NZ I have contacted the Aotearoa NZ CIWEM branch and through this will have the opportunity to meet individuals across a range of organisations (public, NGO and private sector).

What advice would you give to someone considering starting out on the application process for Chartered member?

Take time through the early stages of your career to get familiar with the competencies required for chartership. Don’t become strictly outcome focused, enjoy the process of learning and developing. It is essential to log your CPD completed – particularly key points from talks. Not just to help you progress on your chartership, but also to reflect on how new knowledge is changing your industry overtime.

If you identify gaps in your competencies think about how you can raise these through your annual review and look at broader opportunities. Not just in terms of your chartership but also where you want to go with your career. I have been fortunate to work in both the public and private sector and this has greatly benefited my career and enabled me to form a clear vision of where I want to go in the future.

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

The next application deadline for Chartership is 06 December 2021. Here you can find our 2022 application deadlines.

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