Lower Medway Internal Drainage Board clerk and engineer Priscilla Haselhurst MCIWEM C.WEM IEng is a new Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, and Incorporated Engineer.
Below we learn more about Priscilla's career, what CIWEM membership means to them and their advice to anyone considering applying.
Years of experience
18 years in flood risk sector
BSc (Hons) - Environmental Science, University of Greenwich
HNC - Civil Engineering, Mid Kent College
Post Graduate Certificate - Flood Risk Management, Newcastle University
Networks and groups involvement
CIWEM honorary secretary
CIWEM Rivers and Coastal Group member
Women in FCERM committee member
Association of Drainage Authorities Southeast branch director
What's your day to day job role?
I am new to this role but have been involved with Internal Drainage Board's (IDB’s) throughout my career. I support the team to work with local authorities, landowners, and other stakeholders to manage water levels, reduce flood risk, manage assets, and seek opportunities for environmental enhancement through our operations.
Day to day activities, one day I could be meeting with board members to review our governance, another day I may visit our workforce to understand how I might support them, and another, I could be on site or sat looking at maps and thinking about how we might improve how we manage water.
What inspired you towards a career in this sector?
The current role I am in combines all my interests from environmental science, flood risk management and engineering, which has informed my academic study throughout my career. As a child, I was always playing in water or building camps in the woodland and had an unquenched curiosity about the world around me.
Aged 16, I remember seeing the Environment Agency vans doing their rounds. At the time I didn’t really know what they did but thought to myself 'I want to work with them', and some years later I did.
What is the most exciting part of your career?
Getting to work with the wide variety of people that IDB’s are associated with, and learning about their connection to, and stories of the land they work on. Making a difference in my local community.
The north Kent marshes attracts many who are inspired by the peace and tranquillity of the marsh. Charles Dickens famously wrote about the 'dark, flat, wilderness' of the marsh in ‘Great Expectations’, and others have been equally inspired to write, draw, and explore.
One of my first walks across the north Kent marshes (for pleasure rather than for work) was with a group set up by the artist Billy Childish. Creativity at all its levels is a key theme that runs through my interest to the marsh, and this sector and particular role offers that in abundance.
What is the greatest challenge the sector is facing?
Within IDB’s specifically, there’s a challenge around securing the input of local authority elected councillors. I know they are very busy people and I feel that when they are appointed to a board, they don’t realise how interesting and exciting it can be to support IDB’s.
I hope to change that perception locally as I feel it is important for IDB’s and local authorities to work closely together with other risk management authorities to harness opportunities for betterment and I feel this works best on a local scale.
IDB’s are in a perfect position to bring the right people together to achieve great things, this is as important as ever as we adapt to and become resilient to the challenges of climate change in the context of the whole water cycle.
Why did you apply for Chartership and how will it support your career?
I have been a supporter of CIWEM since I started my career at the Environment Agency in 2004. Gaining Chartership through them was the natural next step to complement my experience and academic qualifications.
On a personal level it was the feeling of satisfaction that I had achieved something that I never thought I could. Like many others, it was not a straight path to my current circumstances, I wanted to achieve the very best I could, and in turn, encourage others who may have experienced similar to reach their potential.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting out applying for Chartership?
Give yourself time, consider getting a mentor to review your application, and do the application during the winter months.
My application took more time than I initially envisioned, and I spent many a grey weekend editing and re-editing my submission. Having someone else read over it and providing feedback is really useful as its easy to develop ‘tunnel vision’ whilst you’re working on it.
Record all your CPD as you go prior to and after Chartership to save time.
Learn more about becoming a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager or Incorporated Engineer.
The next application deadline is 07 April 2022. Here you can find all of our 2022 application deadlines.