Dervla discusses her journey and how it led from Graduate Environmental Scientist to Associate Director (Ornithology). Dervla joined MKO in 2005 after graduating with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Galway.
My journey at MKO started in 2005, after graduating with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Galway. At the time, there were ten employees, and as a recent start-up, there were endless learning opportunities. I was exposed to many aspects of an environmental consultancy, and adaptability was necessary.
Initially, I worked on preparing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for various projects, undertaking fieldwork and writing different chapters, and eventually assuming responsibility for coordinating the entire impact assessment process. I had a keen interest in ecology, particularly botany and freshwater ecology, which spurred me to change my focus from EIA to ecology. I was fortunate that MKO facilitated my desire for a change in roles.
Over the next few years, I gained extensive experience in project management and ecological assessment of the impacts of infrastructural projects, including wind energy projects, water supply schemes, road schemes and housing developments nationwide. I also obtained experience in providing ecological site supervision for infrastructural works within sites designated for conservation, particularly within sensitive aquatic habitats.
Ecology is a broad discipline with many specialisms. I benefitted greatly from learning on the job, both on my initiative and in collaboration with more experienced team members and participating in various external courses to improve my field skills.
In addition to funding relevant courses, MKO also sponsored my CIEEM membership. I attended relevant conferences to ensure I was aware of current trends and developments in the sector. While working on the ecology team, I became increasingly involved in preparing environmental and appropriate assessments for wind energy developments. For a time, I transferred to a role within MKO’s dedicated wind energy team. During this time, the requirement for bird survey work at proposed wind farm sites increased substantially. I supervised a dedicated bird survey unit within the ecology team. After a short period, demand for our services grew rapidly, and a decision was made to create a dedicated ornithology team to undertake this work.
My role as Associate Director of the Ornithology team has allowed me to grow and manage a new team, with the guidance of my colleagues and the company Directors and provide a career path for our team of highly-skilled professional Ornithologists. As the company continues to grow, I look forward to seeing many more exciting opportunities open for current and prospective colleagues.