Turning a New Leaf: Hayley’s shift from safety to environmental

May 27, 2024
career change

If you care about the future of the planet, an environmental career (or career change) could be for you. ‘Green Careers’ offer professionals the opportunity to contribute to preserving or restoring the environment. There are roles across emerging sectors, and traditional sectors, including manufacturing, construction, and engineering.

Hayley Pottenger is one such professional. A nature enthusiast and Environmental Advisor for FSC, she shares her experience of making a career change from safety to environment, and the everyday responsibilities working in this unique sector. She also discusses what it’s like being part of a company with creative, caring individuals, who prioritize achieving sustainable environmental outcomes.

“I was born in Melbourne, grew up in the Dandenong Ranges,” says Hayley. “I think that’s where my love of the environment comes from. You can probably tell that from my hobbies, which include a mix of outdoor activities, from hiking, and surfing, to tending my little vegetable plot at my local community garden.” 

Discover how she turned over a new leaf by following her passion to explore a rewarding career change.

From health & safety to environmental focus

Hayley began her career in administration roles, eventually joining a construction company:

“At the ripe old age of 21 (this is apparently when you’re classified as a “mature age student” at university!), I decided to study environmental science, as I liked the outdoors and figured it would be interesting.” 

Her company was supportive, retaining her part-time while she completed her studies, offering her a new role as an HSE Administrator, and enabling her to achieve her Certificate IV in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). After completing her graduate diploma, she joined a road infrastructure company in a safety-focussed role:

“After almost six years in that role, I was keen to develop further in environmental management. Moving into an environmental role had always been in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until FSC approached me that I decided to take the plunge.”

The value of great people, training & support

For Hayley, the decision to accept an environmental advisor role was exciting, but also nerve-wracking.  

 “While it was an area I’d always wanted to explore, particularly environmental management, I felt comfortable in my safety role. With some encouragement from the recruiter and considering the strong reputation of the business, I decided to join – and haven’t looked back since.”

From her first day on-site at Circular Quay, she knew she’d made the right decision: 

“I was working with another FSC Environmental Advisor, and we got along so well. She is one of the nicest people and such a pleasure to work with. Our enviro team day was also another day I felt a real sense of belonging. We spent a day doing an obstacle course in the treetops, then finished off with a bushwalk to a waterfall.”

Since joining the team over two years ago, FSC has offered Hayley plenty of support and training when needed, with team members always available to answer any questions she’s had.

Explore FSC’s broad range of career development opportunities.

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Building experience through project work

As Hayley shares, the best part of her role is working in a varied, dynamic environment: 

“I’m never bored! I’m inspired to come in each day knowing I get to work on interesting, major infrastructure projects, and be part of some really awesome teams. FSC has helped me take my career to the next level and achieve my professional goals, as I’ve been able to learn on the go, work across multiple projects, and take on many interesting new challenges.”

Hayley is motivated to grow her experience working on different projects across Victoria, and potentially other parts of Australia.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to improve my environmental knowledge and skills, and developing relationships within FSC’s close-knit, people-first culture.”

A green path ahead

For those looking to succeed in this field, or make a career shift in general, Hayley imparts her best advice:  

“If you’re ready for a new challenge, go for it! Take opportunities, or make one for yourself. Surround yourself with a great team; that support really helps, especially in moments you may be feeling out of your depth. And don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back – believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

Ready to turn over a new leaf and combine your passions with your profession?

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