“I do not take no as an answer but I am willing to compromise”, Martin Wiles.
What is your job about?
The University of Bristol runs as a business though we are a charity. We touch a lot of different areas but primarily my role is Sustainability. Sustainability covers energy, waste, water and transport as well as construction, procurement, biodiversity, food- anything that has an impact across the university. We are involved in community impact projects and we work closely with students in the community. There is a strong emphasis within the HE sector to focus on Sustainability activities and our university is trying to tackle it across the board and to a fairly high standard. For example, our construction side uses the BREEAM process in its new buildings and does it for all buildings.
What issues do you address?
- Bristol University has the same impact on the planet as the country Tonga- a country! We need to be aware of it and reduce our impact.
- We do research and teach students. They are our output. We need to make sure those people are fit for purpose. We make sure that whatever field our students end up a part of, they have an understanding of sustainability and what their impact is. It is about critical thinking and approaching things with a problem-solving mindset.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
I had to work hard to get my A Levels and degree – I wasn’t an A* student. I never gave up – I’ve not stopped and I don’t take no for an answer but I’m willing to compromise.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
Talk to your friends, your family. Share it and suddenly it’s not all about you – and it makes you realize that you aren’t the problem…
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
School in 1980s. Learning about deforestation in the Amazon in Geography. A student said “oh yes but nature replenishes itself” and I thought “Clearly it does not”! From that moment on I was aware. I wanted to be in a field where you make a difference.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
I never give 10 for anything, so I’ll say 9.