Realising your potential as a professional Landscape Manager

Logo: Sheffield Uni

Professor Ross Cameron from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape Architecture discusses why innovative Managers are essential for viable, multi-functional landscapes and why an MA in Landscape Management might be your next, best step.

Group of female students around a table working on a project
Group project work in Sheffield’s Arts Tower design studios (The University of Sheffield)

I have always thought that professional Landscape Managers should have been part of the diplomatic corps. Never has a profession been in the middle of so many — often diametrically opposed — views and opinions. How, for example, do you find compromise between ornithologists and motor-cross enthusiasts?

In a world that seems increasingly polarised, the role of the Landscape Manager has never been more vital. Whilst having the assured hand of the diplomat, I believe today’s Landscape Managers also have a role in directing, cajoling and influencing the conversation.

They are essential in challenging the status quo and determining how things are planned and done in our green spaces. Whether it is about better functioning landscapes, enacting more sustainable practices or ensuring access to quality green space for all, the Landscape Manager is central to the discussion.

One of the largest barriers to nature-based solutions being applied in practice, is a lack of trained personnel to oversee the management and maintenance of such interventions. So more managers are needed.

Finding your voice

Group of students outdoors on a field trip in the Peak District
Students explore Hathersage Moor, on a field trip in the Peak District (The University of Sheffield)

Helping Landscape Managers find a voice is one of the philosophies we embed in the MA Landscape Management at the University of Sheffield. Whilst training in effective management practice, students are encouraged to view the landscape from different angles and points of view.

Embracing a question-driven learning process ensures graduates leave with both a capacity for independent thinking and the confidence and capability to deal with challenges, from many different directions.

Many practising Landscape Managers have developed vital skills and knowledge through first-hand experience, whilst not having undertaken more formal, academic qualifications. This experience is highly valued in the application process.

What’s more, the combination of practice with academic theory means graduates of the course gain accredited status with the Landscape Institute, which in time can help with your career progression.

So if you’re currently working for a local authority, land-based charity or housing association and feel it is time to challenge yourself, see the bigger picture and question why you do things the way you do — or simply want to improve your career prospects — why not look into developing a specialism in landscape management?

Find out more about our postgraduate courses in Landscape Architecture and Landscape Management.



Black and white portrait photograph of Isabelle
Isabelle Stratton (The University of Sheffield)

“After school, I had chosen to undertake a practical apprenticeship, rather than follow an academic route and so I was apprehensive, at first, of the demands of the MA.”

Isabel Stratton

Landscape Manager at Influence Landscape Planning and Design
Graduated from MA Landscape Management in 2022

Prior to the course, Isabel spent 15 years as a qualified horticulturalist, progressing from apprentice to head gardener in heritage gardens.

In what ways were you able to draw on your professional experience during the course?

“Coming from the horticulture sector I was experienced in managing large ornamental gardens. I was keen to broaden my knowledge and understanding of a variety of landscapes and the MA provided me the opportunity and freedom to do that.

From one of the first lectures I was hooked on the idea of diversifying the management of brownfield sites, the complete opposite to what I was used to in my career to date! I was able to explore this interest and combine the new skills I was gaining in creating management plans, habitat management and community outreach, with my existing knowledge of managing sites through the seasons and understanding the processes involved behind the scenes, like health and safety, people management and budgets.

After school I had chosen to undertake a practical apprenticeship, rather than follow the academic route into University and I was apprehensive, at first, of the demands of the MA, however I truly believe the decade of experience I had prior to the course enhanced my experience of the MA and the opportunities for development available at Sheffield. It was a fantastic year!”

Where are you working now?

“Since graduating, I have been employed by Influence Landscape Planning and Design, as a Landscape Manager. It is the first time the practice has actively recruited this role and it came from a drive within the team to focus on design through management and a desire to create a strong link between the landscapes we design and how they will be sustainably and successfully managed into the future.

My prior experience working ‘on the ground’ adds an extra dimension to our work. A key part of my role is to write management plans for the landscapes that we design; these have ranged from registered parks and gardens, canal restoration projects to school grounds.

I use my experience from the MA to apply a sustainable, landscape focus to design and management, to work in practice. The variety of the projects we work on has meant I’ve continued to learn about different landscapes and habitats and play a key role in guiding how new and restored landscapes can be managed sustainably into the future.

The MA wasn’t solely about management, but provided the opportunity for me to combine aspects of design, management, and policy in my learning, all of which I now know gave me a great foundation and confidence to diversify my career.”

Portrait photograph of Sam
Sam Marshall (The University of Sheffield)

“The MA provided me with the foundation to progress within a landscape consultancy, as well as the fundamental knowledge to become a Chartered Landscape Architect.”

Sam Marshall

Senior Landscape Manager at TEP

Graduated from MA Landscape Management in 2018

Sam began his career working for Greenbelt Group, who supported him through MA Landscape Management, which he undertook part-time, over two years.

In what ways were you able to draw on your professional experience during the course?

“I undertook the MA part-time whilst working for a management company specialising in the management of public open space on residential developments. I was able to use my experience, specifically of maintenance specifications and delivery of landscape maintenance works, to help me in my studies.

My knowledge of different management structures and arrangements assisted me through a number of modules, where it was key to identify which structure was best, in securing the long-term management and stewardship of the project sites and proposals.”

Where are you working now?

“I am currently working as a Principal Landscape Manager at The Environment Partnership (TEP), and have recently achieved Chartered Membership with the Landscape Institute.

MA Landscape Management at the University of Sheffield provided me with the foundation to progress within a landscape consultancy, as well as the fundamental knowledge to become a Chartered Landscape Architect.

My work load varies from site management — including procuring and administering landscape and maintenance works — to project delivery, which includes the preparation of landscape and habitat management plans, where I often draw upon the knowledge and skills I developed whilst studying at the University of Sheffield.”

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Posted On: 05/03/2024

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