August 2018 – Adventures in ecology

Letters from Lico
As many of you will already be aware, two of our intrepid company directors (Rich and Tim) undertook a once-in-a-lifetime mission into the heart of Mozambique visiting uncharted and unexplored territory in search of previously undiscovered species. The trip was part-funded by Biocensus. The final write up has been delayed by Tim being really busy in the office, but you can read his day-by-day account of the trip on his blog and the full, exciting story, video footage and photos are coming really soon. In the meantime here’s a link to a write up in The Guardian with some stunning images.

See you at the bar
Biocensus is proud to be sponsoring the drinks reception at the CIEEM Autumn Conference in Glasgow. It’s a match made in heaven because when we’re not sourcing top quality ecologists for surveys or adventuring in remote locations we can often be found with a drink in our hands. You could say it’s our other area of expertise. We’re looking forward to raising a glass with you on 20 November. Cheers!

Save the date
As well as preparing for the CIEEM conference we’re also planning a Suppliers Day on 7 November. We’ll be releasing more information soon, but for now please save the date.

Meet the supplier
We now have nearly 700 suppliers on our database with skills and experience ranging from new graduates full of energy, enthusiasm and up to date skills to renowned industry experts with decades of specialist experience, and we love you all! We’ve been chatting with one of our newest suppliers about his move into freelancing and how registering with Biocensus has worked for him.

Matt recently left his role as a senior ecologist in a medium sized consultancy firm to go freelance. He told us about what prompted his decision and what he’s discovered since.

Biocensus: How did you get into ecology?

Matt: I did a first degree in Biology and then a Masters in Conservation Management. I did seasonal ecology work for one summer and volunteered in the winter on a bat conservation project in Costa Rica. Then I was offered a permanent role as a Junior Ecologist. I’ve changed company twice and worked my way up to Senior Ecologist level.

B: When did you first start thinking about freelancing?

M: I’d been considering it for a couple of years. You know what it’s like with ecology, you have your office base, but you don’t tend to spend much time there. When I was a Junior, being sent to wherever the work was didn’t bother me. It’s part of the job. It becomes less appealing when you’re living with a partner or you have children. My daughter was born in April 2015 and I came back from paternity leave straight into bat surveys 180 miles from home. I moved into a management role overseeing a team of ecologists. I really missed the fieldwork, and being part of a team – managing staff is not my strength. A couple of uni friends had gone freelance and it was working well for them.

B: How did you make the move into freelancing?

M: To start with I did my homework. I started off by talking to friends who’d done it who I knew would be honest about the pros and cons. I got a good idea from them about how much I could earn and I calculated how much work I would need to do to equal my salary at the time. I found out what I would need to have in terms of insurance, how to set up as self-employed.

B: You mentioned pros and cons…

M: Yes, so for me the big pros are having control over where in the country I work, and being able to choose field work over office work. The biggest con is the risk. When you’ve got a mortgage to pay – we had our second child late last year so my partner isn’t earning anything at the moment – you have to be sure that you can earn enough to cover your living expenses. When you’re 25 and you have no real responsibilities your attitude to risk is completely different. I’ve got a good network of contacts in ecology. I spoke to people I trust, not just because I needed information I could trust, but also because of not wanting to compromise my position with my employer if I decided not to go freelance… and to maintain a good relationship. Ecology is a small world.

B: Was there anything you came across that you hadn’t foreseen?

M: Well, as I say, I did a lot of homework. I did think hard about whether I needed a website and in the end I haven’t got one done. Someone mentioned Biocensus and I have got all my work through you since I set up. Marketing myself hasn’t been necessary.

B: Any regrets?

M: Apart from wishing I’d made the leap sooner – none!

B: Tell us your best ecology joke.

M: How can you tell the gender of ants? If they float in water they’re boy-ants.

B: Ha ha… don’t try this at home!

Thanks to Matt for giving us his time. If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Meet the supplier let us know. And if you haven’t registered with us already you can sign up on our website.

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