Photo of Environmental Advisor Jonathan Miller for National Grid Green Collar Jobs story

Green collar jobs: Jonathan Miller – working in the field (literally)

In this article we talk to Jonathan Miller, an Environmental Advisor based out of our Warwick office. He tells us how he’s combined his loves of the outdoors and engineering in his role and how, for him, working ‘in the field’ often means quite literally in a field.

I work in our environmental operations team, managing our environmental risks across the UK business. I support our construction projects to help minimise their impact on the environment and share new innovations that help us build more sustainably.

One of the highlights of my job is helping to continue developing our understanding of the importance of protecting the natural world. I’m proud to work for a company that makes clear commitments to the environment, such as those in our Responsible Business Charter.

Inspired by school and scouts

I was interested in how we impact the environment from a young age and got involved with activities like my primary school eco-school’s initiative. Also, through being a scout, I’ve spent lots of time exploring the outdoors.

My interest in energy and large infrastructure, meanwhile, stems from my fascination with how things work. As a child I used to spend hours creating different machines and contraptions out of Lego and Meccano.

Out in the field

I’ve always wanted to have a job with a real purpose and working for National Grid has given me the chance to help in the fight against the current global climate and biodiversity crisis. I also really enjoy being out and about in the environment and, as the energy network is spread across the whole of the UK, my job allows me to spend time away from a desk; advising in the field or, in some cases, literally in a farmer’s field.

I’ve always wanted to have a job with a real purpose and working for National Grid has given me the chance to help in the fight against the current global climate and biodiversity crisis.

An early encounter with National Grid

Almost exactly 10 years before I joined National Grid as a graduate, I won a sustainability competition at the Imagineering Fair and National Grid provided the prize of a hydrogen fuel-cell toy car.

A clear path to an eco-career

Moving through education, I focused on science and the environment, and chose to study physics, geography and biology. These subjects brought together my interest in the natural world and why things work in the way they do. This led me to study Environmental Science at the University of Birmingham, which developed my understanding of how the processes that take place in the environment are linked.

I then joined National Grid as part of the Graduate Development Programme in 2018 and this has set me up for a career in the energy industry.

Having an impact from day one

One of the things that I’m most proud of so far is that, when I was on the graduate scheme, I led a small team of graduates that delivered practical improvements to some of our non-operational land around a substation in North Yorkshire. We had total responsibility for the work and increased the natural value of the land by creating habitats for barn owls and bats, increasing the diversity of the ground cover and linking key wildlife corridors with new hedge planting. It was great to be able to also work with the local school and deliver sessions with them about the energy industry and sustainability.

Moving up the agenda

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is competing priorities – it’s always hard to make sure the environment is considered equally, while we make sure we deliver our core purpose of keeping the lights on and gas flowing. Even in the relatively short time I’ve been with National Grid, we’ve come a long way. Now, more than ever, people just understand the importance of the environment and consider it in a much more balanced way alongside other key issues.

High hopes for COP26’s impact

I hope that next year’s climate summit, COP26 in Glasgow, is a real turning point, with more of the world making clear commitments to ramp up decarbonisation now. The opportunity of green recovery from the global pandemic should not be missed – it can provide wide-ranging environmental and economic benefits.

Championing the climate change cause outside of work

I spend some of my free time volunteering with the Scouts. Through this I’ve been able to spend time with scouts from all over the globe and learnt about how we all face common issues like climate change together as one.

Closer to home, I help with the planning of many major scout events. I’m also excited to be starting to work within our volunteer teams to look at how we can reduce our impact on the environment, and using the events as a chance to engage with thousands of young people and inspire them to keep pushing towards our net zero goal.

My eco hero is…

…Hans Rosling, who set up the Gapminder Foundation. Gapminder uses powerful statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development to help fight misconceptions and promote sustainable global development. They work independently to help society get a true view of the issues the world faces – it’s opened my eyes to the issues people are experiencing locally and how we all have a collective responsibility when it comes to sustainable development.

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