4 April 2018
By Diana McHugh
KLH welcomes Diana to the team!
Tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in the heart of Toronto, Canada, where I spent a majority of my childhood playing sports or escaping 'up north', at our family farm or in beautiful Georgian Bay. I come from a family of nature lovers, so it was engrained in me at an early age to appreciate the outdoors and spend as much time exploring the natural environment as possible.
I enrolled in the Bachelor of Community Design programme at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, on the Atlantic Coast in Canada. In my second year, Dalhousie opened the College of Sustainability and the rest was history! This progressive programme helped me discover my passion for sustainability and environmental (urban) planning. I graduated with a Double Major Honours Degree in Environmental Planning and Sustainability Studies.
Before moving to the UK, I worked as the Programme Specialist at the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), the certification body of LEED in Canada. Through my four years at the CaGBC, I gained extensive technical knowledge and programme management experience. I also discovered my passion for sustainability research and strategy development. When I moved to London in January, my professional goal was to continue my career in sustainability but in the consulting channel.
Where did you first hear about KLH Sustainability?
I first heard about KLH when my colleague and friend Hayley Cormick joined the KLH team in November. Hayley expressed well the benefits of working for KLH; with the opportunity to lead projects within a matter of months, it’s an incredibly challenging environment. Team members are encouraged to find their own solutions to deliver the needs of the client but can rely on the pool of expertise that is the KLH team.
When I hopped the pond in January, I reached out to a number of sustainability experts to gain a sense of the industry in the UK. I had the privilege of meeting Kirsten and learning more about KLH and the innovative projects her team was working on. A few months later a position opened up and I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime!
What made KLH Sustainability stand out for you to work for?
After meeting Kirsten, I knew KLH was unique not only because of the bespoke sustainability solutions they offer clients, but because they push the boundaries of innovation in the built environment. It is invaluable to gain first-hand experience at a pioneering firm that do not settle for status quo or provide a blanket approach to client’s needs. I want to develop my career at a firm that truly embodies their sustainability mission and values motivated employees; therefore KLH is the perfect fit for me.
What is your current role at KLH Sustainability?
As a sustainability advisor at KLH, my role will be split between technical sustainability support and implementing new management processes to improve the efficiency of the business. I’ve already started to provide technical support to team members on projects such as East Wick & Sweetwater and for valued clients like Elliott Wood. I also get to put my interpersonal skills and programme management experience to use as I take the lead in managing the company marketing strategy and research new project management software for the business.
How do you see yourself going forward within KLH Sustainability?
KLH Sustainability provides me with the opportunity to gain holistic technical and project management experience that will be instrumental for my career development. I am eager to support the busy KLH team on pioneering schemes such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park regeneration and Apartments for London’s new model for affordable housing, to learn first-hand from the technical experts here at KLH. As I gain experience, I hope to lead projects, develop strong client relationships and support the company with business development as a trusted sustainability advisor.
What does sustainability mean to you?
I believe sustainability at a high-level is the process of living a full and meaningful life but leaving the smallest footprint (or no footprint at all!) on the natural environment. Built and natural environments are symbiotic and this is why I believe sustainability is a vital aspect of building and community development. On a personal level, sustainability is a way of life and a holistic way of thinking that doesn’t have to be a burden, it is attainable for anyone. From small actions such as recycling properly to cycling to work; everyone can choose to minimise their environmental impact and live more sustainably.