People Spotlight I Heather Knight

19 March 2024

While currently enrolled in the Scottish Water graduate programme, my journey to this point has been quite the adventure. After earning my BSc in Biology/Zoology in 2017, I fell into a job working in a veterinary diagnostics laboratory. However, when the pandemic hit, my role shifted towards Covid PCR testing, where I realised that I was drifting away from my passion for environmental work.

Heather on a recent site visit

I decided to go back to Uni to do my master’s degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology. (I highly recommend taking some time before returning to education; it completely transformed my work ethic!). I then worked as an ecologist, conducting surveys on birds, butterflies, bats, and herbivores. Sadly however, I soon realised this career path wasn’t for me – this gave me a difficult decision.

Fortunately, I received news from my application for the graduate programme at Scottish Water. So, I took the plunge to pursue an entirely different career.

Fast forward to the present, having completed a year with the Zero Emissions team, I’ve just finished my rotation within Horizons. I’ve really enjoyed discovering new ways of applying my passion for environmental and biodiversity in ways that I’d never even thought of before! Helping Scottish Water reach its Net Zero and Biodiversity goals brings me the job satisfaction I’d been searching for.

I worked as part of the Business Development team, focusing on ‘heat from waste water’ technology and its potential for supporting low carbon energy initiatives across Scotland. I also got involved in various other projects, taking on project management roles along the way.

One project that stood out involved looking at a new reedbed waste water treatment system. It’s pretty amazing – using reeds as a natural way to treat waste water in rural areas – and allowed me to blend my interest in nature with operational processes.

I also explored how biodiversity can support and enhance solar PV schemes, putting my ecology knowledge to practical use, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of my suggestions come to fruition.

I’ve enjoyed using my skills and interests in a whole new way. I have a huge interest in balancing the needs of operational sites with the preservation of the environment, and this role has allowed me to think about these kinds of challenges.

I also like being able to explain to people about the multiple benefits of working WITH nature rather than against it. For example, planting hedgerows around sites – not only does it provide resources for wildlife, but it also provides essential screening and protection, while enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.

Nature walks on holiday are a must!

I’ve just moved into my final placement in Economic Strategy and Regulation to try something entirely different. Following that, I’ll be settling into my permanent role with the Zero Emissions team.

Given there is a fair amount of overlap between Horizons and the Zero Emissions team’s objectives, I’m sure I’ll be engaged with Horizons-related initiatives down the road!

I attend an art class twice a month, play video games, and hit the weights at a functional fitness gym. Don’t let appearances fool you—I like to think I’m stronger than I look!

Heather with her greyhound, Jet

In the past, I used to keep pet rats – they are such loving and intelligent animals. I found them to be cleverer and easier to train than my current rescue greyhound (no offence to him!).

I’m an absolute chocoholic, so chocolate anything really!

As simple as it sounds, the mantra of ‘just being yourself’ resonates with me. I’ve struggled with social anxiety all my life and only just coming to terms with it. It’s ok to prefer to be by yourself sometimes or not always have your full personality on show. You can’t please everyone, but by staying true to yourself, remaining open-minded and accepting yourself for who you are, you’ll naturally attract positive things and good people into your life.

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