Achieving professional chartership – Stuart Harwood

At JBA our people are our greatest asset. Every year we support a number colleagues on their journey to achieving professional chartership – colleagues like Stuart Harwood, who recently achieved Chartered Member status (C.WEM) with CIWEM . The road to professional chartership is different for everyone, and Stuart has been telling us more about his experience.

I joined JBA in September 2020 after 17 years working in consultancy. During the early years of my career, I was a hydraulic modeller. As my career evolved, I became less hands-on with the modelling work and project managed Flood Risk Assessment and EIA work for large scale development and infrastructure projects.

Starting out

Prior to joining JBA, I had made two previous attempts to build some momentum with preparing my CIWEM application, but these quickly fizzled out. Looking back, this was perhaps about my mindset and perception that the chartership hurdle was insurmountable – the bar is set high – can I reach it, do I really have the right experience? Essentially I had become disillusioned with it and started questioning whether C.WEM was really necessary so far into my career.

How to make progress

Joining JBA provided a fresh start in many ways and a renewed impetus. Guidance and mentoring by JBA colleagues helped break the application down into manageable chunks. Critically, it also assisted with my interpretation of the competencies and precisely what they were looking for me to demonstrate. This was one of the main things I was struggling with, leading me to give up on previous attempts to prepare the application. With a better understanding of what the various competencies were asking of me, it soon became clear that the problem was not finding examples to answer a competence, but how to squeeze everything I wanted to talk about into the word limit. This was the key to a renewed motivation to get it done.

Advice for anyone considering professional chartership?

Start early and find a mentor. It may sound a bit of a cliché, but my take on the journey to chartership is that it’s just that, a journey. Make a start early in your career, tackle it in bite-sized chunks, adopt a ‘little and often’ approach to assembling the application content and team up with a mentor, someone who’s ‘been there, done that’, to provide guidance and direction.  JBA has a wealth of knowledge and experience amongst its 700 staff, and tapping into this certainly helped knock my application into shape.

Prepare and practice. Don’t be tempted to duck the opportunity for a mock interview or two. It’s an absolutely essential part of the preparation, a great opportunity to fine-tune and brush up on any potential weaker elements and, importantly, really helps with building confidence ahead of the real thing.

Take every opportunity. If I had to pick one core theme from my professional interview experience, it would be ‘breadth’ – breadth in terms of awareness, knowledge, understanding and experience across a wide spectrum of topics and issues. So exploit opportunities, beyond the day job, to develop knowledge in areas both related and unrelated to your area of work, because your interview will almost certainly explore issues beyond the content of your written submission. Training and CPD opportunities are readily available at JBA and we’re all encouraged to attend webinars and make full use of our annual training budget.

So, invest the time, make it happen sooner rather than later and get the monkey off your back.

It feels good when you see MCIWEM, C.WEM after your name! Good luck!

Want to know more?

JBA provides mentoring and a range of other support for colleagues pursuing professional membership and chartership. Discover more about career opportunities with us here: Careers with JBA

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