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Nicole Gullan

What made you choose Arbtech?

Arbtech is the entire reason why I work in consultancy.

I was a bit lost after university. My original plan had been to move to Africa and work in conservation, but after six months in South Africa training as a field guide, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live over there permanently.

I wanted to try and get a job in ecology in the UK, but I had no idea what was out there; the only options discussed at university were charity work, field ranger-type roles and lab work, and none of these felt like the right fit.

Things changed when I found Arbtech. Here was a group of smart, dedicated individuals, getting to work with nature/wildlife every day, but actually getting paid enough that they didn’t have to live in their parents’ basements forever.

I am not ashamed to tell you that I became slightly obsessed. I applied for jobs at other consultancies and worked as an in-house ecologist for a land restoration company for a while, but my heart wasn’t really in it – all I wanted was to work for Arbtech.

Meeting Rob and other members of the team at the training days just bolstered my desire to join the team. In fact, I pestered Rob for 18 months before he agreed to hire me. I even sent him gingerbread cookies shaped like bats for Christmas. In all seriousness, I think he hired me so I would leave him alone a bit.

I bored my friends, boyfriend and family talking at length about Arbtech, stalking Rob on LinkedIn for months before landing a position on the Arbtech graduate training programme in 2019.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t believe how far I’ve progressed in my career since then. I’m now a hybrid consultant, undertaking ecological and arboricultural surveys independently, holding several protected species licences, starting to write EPSLs, and having the ability to work with the coolest, smartest bunch of people I’ve ever met. I’ve never looked back.

What do you love most about the company?

I think the first thing that attracted me to Arbtech was the unlimited CPD budget that consultants receive. I still enjoy this – I can’t believe how much training I’ve been lucky enough to receive over the last few years, even gaining a degree in arboriculture that Arbtech paid for – but these days, my colleagues are by far the best thing about working here.

It truly feels like a family that I got to choose. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received any time I’ve needed it, not just from Rob, but from the entire team. It’s so nice to work with friends, and I can’t imagine going back to a workplace where people are just civil with each other.

Aside from the awesome people I work with, I really rate the independence that I’m granted as an Arbtech employee. I have total flexibility over my day – there are no timesheets and no pointless meetings.

I feel totally in control of my own life and fully supported. It’s truly a dream job.

What do you do when you are not at Arbtech?

I do yoga every morning – it keeps me sane and helps me to not take life too seriously.

I spend a lot of my time in nature, so weekends often involve long walks through the countryside around Bristol. I’m particularly keen on the Brecon Beacons at the moment, but love getting down to the Dorset coastline when I get the chance.

I enjoy cooking for friends and family, and I really make the most of the Bristol nightlife (there is always something going on!).

I also love to travel, mostly for the food and the chance to try new languages.

On quieter days, you’ll find me swimming or chilling in the hot tub at the gym – Arbtech pay for my membership! – or enjoying a good book.

What is your biggest tip to achieve the most in life?

Decide what it is that you want to achieve before you start moving. Make sure that the goal is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

“I want to get fit” is not a good goal – how will you know when you’ve reached it?

If your goals feel overwhelming, break them down into smaller and smaller tasks until the tasks feel actionable, and then do one task every day until you reach your goal.

If you follow this methodology, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get there – and likely sooner than you think.

What is the best social you’ve been on at Arbtech?

The Austria social in January 2023 will be hard to beat.

30 of us attended a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and snowboarding camp in Austria for a week of all-expenses-paid fun. Skiing/snowboarding lessons were included for those of us who were beginners or needed a refresh.

Après ski was also fully paid for and was definitely the highlight of the trip for me – getting to chill on a mountain in the sun with my colleagues all day was an idyllic way to start the new year.

Where do you want to travel to next?

I’m really keen to get back to Africa – I was born in Zimbabwe but haven’t travelled there since 2018.

Zimbabwe does a 24-hour country-wide game count every September, where every watering hole in every national park in the country is surveyed by ecologists and interested members of the public, and the data gathered is used to inform conservation efforts and management over the next year.

It’s an awesome experience sitting by a watering hole for a long stretch of time, getting to know the people in your group and recording wildlife encounters, from beetles to elephants.

Also, fishing on the Zambezi River at sunset, beer in hand, is pretty idyllic.

There are also so many other areas of Africa I’d like to explore…the Okavango Delta is pretty high on my list.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to plan things.

In the past, I’ve always had a solid five-year plan, but I’m trying something new from this year onwards.

My goal this year is to stop giving myself so many goals to achieve! I just want to continue working hard, chilling hard and enjoying this stage of my life.

I imagine I’ll still be living in Bristol in five years’ time, and I’ll most likely still be working for Arbtech. I can’t imagine wanting to work anywhere else.

I would also like to buy my own house in the next year or two.

What is a goal you have for the future, in or out of work?

I’d like to get back to being near-fluent in Spanish like I was in my teens, and then use this to travel in Spain and Southern/Central America.

Once I’ve got Spanish nailed, maybe Portuguese. I love the way a new language gives you a new way to express yourself and communicate with others.

Nicole joined Arbtech in March 2020.

Job Title

Senior Ecologist

Qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Bristol
  • Field Guide Qualification, Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA)
  • Associate Member, The Royal Society of Biology (RSB)

Professional Experience

  • Arboriculture
  • Ecology

Specialist Areas

  • Bat Surveys
  • Reptile Surveys

Hobbies

    Reading, Travelling, Cooking, Camping and Spending Time in Nature

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