Q&A Nov 26, 2021

Q&A: Talking with CIWEM Junior President, Jacobs Quality Manager Matthew Jack

Q&A with Matthew Jack

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Jacobs.

I’m a Quality Manager based in the U.K. Manchester office, where I head up Quality for Strategic Consulting and Digital. I joined Jacobs in 2014 after completing my apprenticeship in civil engineering. Throughout my career I have worked mostly in water and environment roles and am chartered as both C.Wem and C.Env. Outside of Jacobs, I am a Trustee of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and a Non-Executive Director at a not-for-profit recycling, BenCom, based in Manchester.

What sparked your interest in a career in STEAM/environment?

My route into the industry has been far from traditional given my degree was in military history. After graduating I was working at a local supermarket and applying for apprenticeships when I was accepted onto a civil engineering apprenticeship by a company called Grontmij – at the time I had no idea you could even do apprenticeships in fields like this! When I moved to Jacobs, I gained my EngTech, and became more and more environment-focused. I never set out to be a water and environment professional but I love the work that I do, and I want to make sure young people know this could be a career for them too.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

I’m currently Head of Quality for Strategic Consulting and Digital. I love the variety that it brings, working with different teams across the business, and getting to see a very broad view of what Jacobs as an organisation does. Auditing is my favourite part of the job. I get to dip in and out of projects across the board, and see all the interesting and downright cool things we do. For example, one day I can be learning what Jacobs’ approach to unexploded ordnance is and the next I will be learning from ecologists why it was necessary to purchase 10 bottles of vodka to take to an offshore rig (apparently, it’s the best thing for preserving marine samples...).

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

I love the variety and opportunity afforded by being part of such a large worldwide business. We provide solutions for just about everything, from designing fairground rides to jet packs for the international space station. I’m lucky to have seen a lot of what the business does, yet still feel like I've only seen a fraction of our impact. There is so much more for me to see and do and near limitless opportunities to develop and grow as a professional.

Why did you decide to go for the CIWEM Junior President position and what do you hope to achieve in the role?

I saw the role as an opportunity for me to personally further awareness of water and environmental management as a career path, and I hope in some way it will help to inspire others with a non-traditional route into the industry. I would like to use the role to help improve the experience of those transitioning from student to graduate or technician grade. I would also like to raise awareness of the relaunch of the TechCIWEM professional qualification to encourage more technicians to become qualified. I also want to help debunk the perception of the ‘mid-career lull’ and ensure our members receive support no matter where they are in their careers.

What excites you about the future of the industry?

It can be hard not to be anxious about the future of the planet, especially having worked on many worrying coastal erosion forecasting projects. But what excites me is that we are the people tasked with combatting the single biggest threat to the planet, our species and our biodiversity. The decisions and actions we take are the forefront of tackling the climate and ecological emergency. I also want my generation to be the first in human history to leave the planet in a better state than we found it, and the generations that follow must reverse and restore the damage done. What excites me most is how we do that and how we inspire those that come after us.

Tell us about your proudest career moment.

I worked for a charity called Engineers for Overseas Development (EFOD) as treasurer, fundraising lead and project manager. During that time we designed, funded and constructed a medical testing centre in Mayuge which is one of the most socio-economically deprived areas of Uganda. Through the work that we did we trained six local people giving them the skills to have a fighting chance of gaining careers and providing for their families.

If you aren’t working, what would we most likely find you doing?

You will most likely find me sorting out my ‘fixer-upper’ house we bought a few years ago, which has taught me new skills of bricklaying, carpentry, electrics, tiling and more! Aside from doing up the house that we now share with our beautiful baby daughter, I also enjoy woodworking, dabbling in a bit of metallurgy and recently built myself a foundry for casting bronze.