How to build career as an Indonesian environmental consultant

WP_20160504_006This post could be my reflection for my profession nowadays. But it is surely important for anyone who wants to get into the same job in the environmental consultancy especially in Indonesia.

Background Information

 “My first advice is to find mentors to get your back and to increase your science confidence”

Firstly, I have to be honest, there was huge different time and condition during my university time back 10 years ago. (Sometimes) in university, you will rarely find a good mentors for your career especially if you have great passion and interest in science and moreover in research world. Although finally you find them outside university, it is yourself who has to push yourself like any other profession (plus luck as well). I have been fortunate to meet great ladies and gentlemen as mentors during my career years so far. At some point, you might also not realise those mentors around you since you are not really pay attention. Secondly, not many scholarship opportunity for Indonesian especially fresh graduate that time. If you find these scholarships, it was not ideal and very limited to your interest.

To date, many Indonesian are getting more Masters and PhD degrees more than anyone else 10 years ago. A requirement to have Masters or even PhD could be a compulsory in the next few years especially in any research job in Indonesia. At international level, PhD is surely a must in top level research institution (although this kind degree is not for everyone as need very high commitment). However, I believe many Indonesian have a lot of potential and to give back to their own country with their own skills if have chance to prove it with or without PhD :)

From Biodiversity Scientist to Biodiversity Specialist

“Second advice, challenge yourself and get out from your comfort zone”

When I this job as environmental consultant nearly 4 years ago, I just finished a job as a bat researcher for an expedition company in SE Sulawesi. Working as environmental consultant was actually never in my mind before including moved out from my hometown Bandung to Bogor, which known the center of Environmental NGOs in Indonesia.

After all, I try this career until this present time. I like it since more applicable and practical than my previous work as scientist in an expedition company or consultant ecologist. One good friend also my mentor endorsed me to get this job and then time flies with a lot of variation of projects within the company.

My position at Daemeter Consulting is called biodiversity specialist. Daemeter which is a consulting firm with office in the US and Indonesia with sustainability projects in agriculture, forestry, and mining sectors. As it is called Biodiversity Specialist, it may seems general for everyone.

What is a biodiversity specialist?

“Third advice, learn fast to adapt with your surroundings and beware with your social media activities”

In general, I handle any kind of project related to biodiversity aspects. From field survey to identify High Conservation Value (HCV) species and areas, develop environmental management and monitoring plan, perform assessment or audit to evaluate best management practice for private sectors, NGOs and donors, conduct stakeholders engagement from Sumatra, Kalimantan to West Papua, and lately in charge of some project management role towards successful work implementation. Shortly, most work in consulting company is based on factual condition and more interdisciplinary than only research based. It is also have more limited budget and timeline as consultants need to provide service to their clients in an effective and efficient way. As a consultant, you probably cannot publish your project results due to NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with your client. Therefore, make sure all your communication channel such as social media post and message in public group n mobile messenger free from your project involvement (could be make it encrypted to avoid problem in the future .. This is of course a bit paranoid :D).

Education helps and still the most important skills

“Fourth advice, get at least a Masters’ degree or make it even to PhD”

I had degree in Biology and then Environmental Science that partially support my work nowadays. It is good to have basic knowledge as working in consulting company since may seems more flexible not like in research work. We also tend to use qualitative skills than quantitative skills in this job.

The other reason why I accept this kind of job is because the traveling opportunity. I always like to travel everywhere and an outdoor person by birth (if not since college). Being an environmental consultant is also the my way to express myself and faraway from 9 to 5 work in the office. Although sometimes I have to be behind my desk during reporting time.

If you are ready to take challenge to be a consultant, check again your passion and interest. If it is related to traveling, meet new people, constant upgrading and learning new knowledge skills all the time, writing especially technical report in English and Bahasa Indonesia, always up to date with the latest (business and politic) news (newspaper, social media, conference, seminar, webinar) then this job may applicable for you.

Why you have to be environmental consultant in Indonesia?

“Fifth advice, there is still less Indonesian in the business .. Good consultant and good researcher is a rare combination make sure you can be both!

We need more experts for some particular studies e.g governance and land management system, landscape approach, good governance, jurisdictional approach, climate change, payment on ecosystem services expert and so on. Nowadays not many Indonesian have capacities to conduct delicate and intense study.

It would be very useful as being consultant you can work anywhere, as academics, NGOs, Donors, independent researcher or straight away to consulting company. In that way you become more open minded to your colleague and friends.

Being an environmental consultant could be your way to give back and act to your beloved country. It might be not too ideal like in school but pretty close with your everyday reality.

Last Words

“Sixth advice, have more than just a soft skills”

One from many important skills would be the same like other profession, such as good articulation to deliver presentation or public speaking, this also need to show leadership skills and tuning in important aspect of your project, high level networking skills also appreciated since environmental consultants will work with many people from various background. The most important surely education background you have previously. Either Bachelor with high level experience across Indonesia or maybe you already have Masters or even PhD degree from local or foreign universities. Another thing for sure, best to fix your English since early start!

I also always believe that if you have passion in one thing you should go consistent with it. You may turn or move away a bit but always put high your dreams always. It is also important to know your strength and weakness when considering your ‘sweet spot’ that will support your passion. This could be by learning more about your interest area and updating some relevant additional skills in your work.


Photo is Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Yes! I am back again to Myanmar recently since attending Myanmar Horizon Scan workshop with NUS. What is it about? Primarily it is an exercise to define threats and solution on one broad issues. You can check in detailed here.

How to build career as an Indonesian environmental consultant is first appeared on www.felicialasmana.com

 

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