3 July 2019
By The KLH Team
KLH work placement interviews
This summer, KLH Sustainability opened its doors to two young students who joined the team for a week. During this week, they both helped us with various tasks and tagged along to a few client meetings. At the end of the week, we asked them a few questions about their overall experience at KLH:
Work placement 1: Matthew Joynson (MJ)
Work placement 2: Holly Ford (HF)
1) Tell us a bit about yourself, your interests and what you hope to do in your future career (if you don’t know, that’s ok too!)
MJ: “I’m 17 and study Biology, French and Chemistry for my A-levels. I spend a lot of time in the outdoors, climbing, running and walking, and my eagerness to understand what I come across during my outdoor adventures has led to a strong interest in Ecology. Having obtained some work experience with an applied ecology company in the Yorkshire Dales, I’ve become more and more focused on pursuing a career in the environmental sector and I want to apply to Oxford University to study Biology. Thus, I see my work at KLH as another way of broadening my understanding of the applications of the life sciences, across the multiple industries they are linked to.”
HF: “I am 16, live near Nottingham, and study Psychology, Business, Food Science and Nutrition for my A levels. My hobbies include swimming, netball and water sports. I am also mentoring younger students as a sports leader, and am part of our young enterprise team. For my future career, I aspire to work in business, but I am still undecided regarding the sector of business that I would like to specialise in.”
2) What sustainability issue is most interesting or important to you?
MJ: “To me the most fascinating aspect of sustainability is the work that goes into reducing our impact on the aquatic ecosystems that permeate every city and town. Out of all the aspects of sustainability, I am mostly interested in ecological protection, and, I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to have been involved in work on river and stream habitats in the past. The fragility of these systems means that the solutions we create to protect them are incredibly complex, incorporating so many different technologies and sciences. In the protection of natural water-bodies from human infrastructure, I’ve seen the sciences that I’m so interested in being put to use in a real, tangible way.”
HF: “The most interesting and important sustainability aspect to me is the environmental one, as pollution has dire consequences on the environment. In my opinion, plastic consumption is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed, being a cause of death for wildlife, particularly in the oceans. A lot of plastic materials are not recyclable, and either get burned or sent to landfill at the end of their life. It is therefore of utmost importance to control the amount of plastic we use, to avoid putting a strain in our future, and the future of the wildlife.”
3) Do you consciously make sustainable decisions in your day to day life? How does sustainability influence your everyday life?
MJ: “I definitely think about environmental and ethical issues, in particular when I buy food or when I eat out. However, I find myself questioning more and more how I travel and which companies I choose to support by buying their products. I think experiencing the work KLH does has made me more sensitive to sustainability principles and will encourage me to pursue opportunities to be more sustainable. For example, I want to open a dialogue with my school about how they use the grass borders around our school – currently mowed frequently – where I think there is a missed opportunity to improve biodiversity and support pollinators by growing native wildflowers and grasses.”
HF: “One way in which I try to be sustainable is by recycling as much as possible. I always read the packaging to check what is recyclable and non-recyclable. Another way sustainability influences my everyday life is the way I travel. I try to walk to places as much as possible, use public transport to get to school every day and will car share with friends and family to go to the gym or swimming, which helps reduce my carbon footprint.”
4) What was the most interesting concept, theory, project or idea you learned about during your work placement? Tell us about it!
MJ: “I discovered the concept of biophilia or biophilic design; it involves the use of nature and natural analogues to create healthier spaces in towns, parks and homes, but more specifically in workplaces. It aims to reduce stress and improve concentration and mental health, and to create a work environment that’s better in every way. The overarching idea is to fill an office or a building with links to nature, either using actual natural items or elements inspired by nature, in order to tap into the benefits of being in an environment that humans are evolutionarily optimised to thrive in.”
HF: “The most interesting project that I learnt about during my work placement was the carbon-neutral factory. It has allowed me to see first-hand how much preparation and work goes into such an ambitious project. It has also allowed me to see how businesses take risks and try things they have never tried before. By joining design team meetings, I has given a first-hand view of the details which go into the preparation of a building project. Finally, it enabled me to see how people from different business areas collaborate and interact, in order to develop an amazing and successful project.”
5) Now that you have an inside view of what it’s like to work for a small but influential consultancy firm, what do you think? Could you see yourself working somewhere like KLH in the future? What did you like, not like, and what would you be looking for in a future employer?
MJ: “I love the fact that KLH is such a small company, it means that everyone is very closely involved with each other and can rely on the support of the rest of the team. To feel like a vital component of an organisation and that you can drive real change in the place you work, as at KLH, is very important to me, and would draw me to a similarly structured firm in the future. I enjoyed engaging with the different companies that KLH works with and I think that I’d prefer working in a similarly flexible, and dynamic setting, to working for a larger company. Most of all I enjoyed spending time with Hayley, Will and Georgios who make KLH the friendliest and most chilled out team ever!”
HF: “Working at KLH taught me many things about how a business functions and allowed me to learn more about professional and client relationships. This has inspired me to go down the business route as a career as I can see myself working in an office-based environment. I liked all the aspects of working in an office, especially meeting new people. I would like my future employer to push me to the furthest of my capabilities and help me continually improve. I cannot thank Hayley and the rest of the team enough for giving me this opportunity which has helped me get a real insight into the professional world.”