13 Jun The Journey to Achieving C.WEM Chartered Status
Recently our Project Hydrologist, Henry Kelly, became a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) following a 5-year process. We asked Henry to give us some insight into his journey to achieving C.WEM chartered status.
The process first began not long after I started with the company back in 2012. After I had some significant projects under my belt, I decided to apply for full (but unchartered) membership with CIWEM.
I spoke with my line manager and he was very encouraging, although few people at the company had experience with CIWEM as most were pursuing chartership status with the Geological Society. The initial application involved submitting some brief reports on my experience in the industry so far and academic qualifications, along with letters of support from two sponsors.
In the early days, it’s just about gaining experience really, hopefully in a relatively broad range of areas related to your field.
How did you manage the process and the aspects involved?
To become chartered with CIWEM, a general guide is that c. 5 years of post-graduate experience would be required prior to applying. So, in the early years, I just took notes of what I had been doing in terms of work and training. A spreadsheet is a useful way to log this information. It’s easy to forget about so I just have a recurring outlook reminder every couple of months to add a few lines.
Once I had been at the company for over 5 years I started thinking about applying for chartership. It’s just about overcoming the inertia and getting the supporting evidence together really; it feels like a real challenge when everyone is so busy. I was actually away from my family for a few weeks undertaking some site work at the time so it gave me some free evenings to crack on with it.
Once the written application had been submitted and was approved I had to focus on the professional interview, which was rather more intense. I set out a certain amount of time each week to make notes on the different areas which would be covered and work on my presentations. I felt quite prepared by the time the review day came along.
What did you find most challenging?
I found the most challenging part getting ready for the interview. It was difficult to know what would be asked and what level of detail might be required, so I covered a lot of ground in this process. Once the interview had started I felt quite relaxed and the interviewers were very nice and accommodating; no need to be worried there.
What support did you receive from your line manager?
My line manager was very supportive of my intention to apply and provided a letter of support and validation of my supporting documents. He also reviewed my reports on my experience and provided useful feedback prior to the finalisation of the documents.
What was the interview process like with CIWEM?
There were two interviewers and the whole process lasted about an hour. They were great, and try to put you at ease from the start. There were lots of very nervous looking people at the CIWEM office.
We started with some introductions and a bit of general chat before moving on to a verbal presentation about my career to-date (c. 5/10 mins). There were some more questions on some of the mandatory competencies. If they feel there is a lack in any area of your written application then this is where they would like you to provide more information and where they may focus their questions. They’re not trying to catch you out, just looking for the required evidence for each competency.
Next was the presentation on one key past project (c. 10 mins). My advice here is to focus on what YOU did, not what was done by the company or third parties.
This was followed by more questions about the mandatory competencies.
Any overall tips/recommendations?
- Get on with the application, it goes past pretty quickly once you get started.
- Prepare well, think of a few good examples for each mandatory competency and write them down.
- Practice the presentations, but don’t over-rehearse.
- Relax, it’s not as bad as all that.
What does this mean now for your career?
This step has given me a good deal of confidence. When someone has been doing a job for a while then a deal of knowledge and competence is assumed, but this is an extra step that one can take to show that you are serious about the career and have a reasonable level of competence to do it.
Companies recognise the status and it gives them additional confidence when they discuss new roles with prospective employees. ESI, now part of Stantec, is keen for staff to progress to the chartered status and encourage staff with a salary increase once achieved. For many Engineering and Environmental Consultancies, chartership is a requirement for staff wishing to transition into more senior roles.
Since starting the process of becoming chartered with CIWEM I have become the source of information and support for those wishing to take a similar route to chartership.
CIWEM is the only Royal Chartered Professional Body dedicated to the water and environment sector. Representing and supporting thousands of members globally, all of whom are dedicated to improving water and environmental management and associated social and cultural issues. Find out more.