Arbtech MD Robert Oates highlights how ecologists can boost their employability

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In an effort to advise budding ecologists with enhancing their chances of securing employment in the ecological consultancy sector, Robert Oates – Managing Director of Arbtech – has offered insight into the fundamental factors that make an ecologist more appetising to potential employers.

Arbtech are the UK’s number 1 experts on arboriculture, biodiversity and ecology, and following over a decade of providing a selection of services to clients across the country, the consultancy has grown to more than 30 surveyors, developing a positive yet effective company culture in the process.

Robert Oates formulated the company culture in a way that he saw as the most effective. He states that ‘who you are’ and ‘what you can do’ are the two primary factors when it comes to being successful in finding employment within ecology. Explaining his thinking, he said: “Who you are is your interests, things that get you fired up, things that turn you off. It’s knowing what style of management gets the best out of you. It’s understanding what your strengths are, and what you do to compensate for your weaknesses. It’s knowing what will keep you engaged and hungry…It’s about knowing who you want to become.”

He does, however, feel that the attitude and personal goals of an individual are arguably more important than professional skills or academical qualifications. He said: “What you can do is very much a secondary consideration – skills can be taught; personality can’t.” He then spoke about the desirable qualities of his own company: “[Arbtech] want to be able to commercialise your skillset in the fastest possible time. You can set yourself apart from the pack with the keystone skill that people like me are looking for…self-discipline.” He continued: “The goal here – this ‘root of all good qualities’ – is to pick a domain – something useful to employers, like bats, for example - and develop the skill of becoming undeniable. Use your discipline to move yourself forward in that domain every single day without fail.”

“Get out and talk to people. Work a part-time job to pay for your travel expenses, and go and volunteer for a local bat group. Ask consultancies near you if you can shadow them on bat surveys. Get out on emergence surveys during the summer…And don’t just show up and go home – make friends, talk to people, network. Buy a detector. Go out on your own and get used to delineating between calls and sonograms for different species of bats.”

He concluded: “If it sounds like work, then good, because it is. The unfortunate reality is that you are competing with thousands of other related-field graduates for a comparatively small pool of jobs. But don’t let that discourage you. The application of discipline to the accumulation of skills over time will get you to where you want to be.”

If you are interested in working for Arbtech please email or find the careers page at

First published in CJS Focus on Employability on 23 May 2022. Read the full issue here


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Posted On: 06/05/2022

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