04 Jun 2019 Supporting Professional Development: ‘Consultancy Skills’ training For Ecologists
‘Consultancy skills’ is a core element of the training we offer to new recruits, and is essential in helping new staff understand the culture of the organisation. It is also key to their professional development as ecological consultants, as it is aimed at equipping them to do their job as effectively as possible
The training is delivered over four days, three of which are in the first year of employment.
The initial training session covers how current biodiversity policy and legislation has evolved, and how it shapes what we do as consultants. The role of guidance and industry standard practice, and the expectations of decision makers and clients are also considered. The intended outcome is that attendees understand the roles these various drivers have in determining the advice we give to clients.
The second day of the training concerns communication, and is a mixture of group and individual exercises. Over the course of the day attendees are challenged to consider what the function of an ecological consultant is, what characterises good communication, and why it is important that they communicate well from the perspective of the company and our clients. The aim is to encourage them to think very carefully about the importance of the advice they give and how to communicate most effectively.
The final element of the year one training concerns effective project delivery and business development. This is another interactive session in which attendees are firstly encouraged to think about what project management involves, and map out how to deliver a project, before moving on to talk about the importance of good client relationships and understanding client priorities and goals in developing long term relationships.
In addition to helping them understand how BSG works, and aiding their professional development, the consultancy skills training is very useful in helping the ecologists get to know each other and the more experienced members of staff involved in its delivery. As a result, new recruits build a network of people across the company they are comfortable talking to. This gives them the confidence to draw on the collective skills of a wider range of people to identify and resolve potential issues and formulate good advice.
The year two training will be on emerging policy and implications for business. This will take place (for ecologists in their second year with BSG) in autumn 2019. A broad understanding of where policy is taking us is vital to developing business, and the course will cover many relevant topics including some that are already enshrined in policy. These include biodiversity net gain, ecosystem services, natural capital accounting and landscape-scale re-wilding projects.
The training is delivered internally by BSG Ecology Partners and Principal Ecologists with over 75 years of combined experience working in industry. Some of the trainers have worked for local planning authorities, statutory agencies, and both large and small consultancy companies, resulting in a wide range of expertise that has been drawn from in designing a training package specific to the company.
‘I’ve found the Consultancy Skills training to be a really valuable insight in to ethos of BSG Ecology and the high professional standards expected from all staff members. Having worked in ecological consultancy for over 10 years, there were elements of the training which were not unfamiliar to me but served as a handy refresher. However, there are certainly new skills I have developed and the sessions have helped me to identify my own strengths and weaknesses as an ecological consultant.’ Daniel Foster, Senior Ecologist
‘The training has been a great opportunity to understand who BSG Ecology are and the quality they expect. It also provided a clear understanding of wildlife policy and legislation, how to effectively communicate with the client and how to present the information gained through surveys as guidance and advice.’ Oliver Kemp, Ecologist
‘During the training relevant content underpinning the day to day elements of my role as an ecological consultant were covered and spread over three focused sessions, each session building on the last. I found the combination of group and individual tasks effective for learning and thought-provoking in relation to key legislation and principals underpinning the legal and professional expectations of my role to both clients and the business. These sessions have given me confidence and the tools to use going forward, particularly in project management and communication.’ Claire Wiggs, Ecologist