A day in the life: Amey lead environmental consultant Orla Fitzpatrick

Orla Fitzpatrick, Amey lead environment consultant

Orla Fitzpatrick is Amey Consulting’s lead environmental consultant, heading the company’s recently amalgamated environment and sustainability team. Her typical day is all about finding new recruits to build the group.

Six months ago Amey’s Consulting business created one environment and sustainability team from the experts it had sitting in engineering teams around the group.  The woman since chosen to lead the team is 38 year old Orla Fitzpatrick who has been with company since 2009. She’s based in Belfast but travels around Amey’s offices all the time.

“As specialists we have to explain the benefits of what we do in an engineer’s language – how best environmental practice can improve value in terms of cost and time efficiencies.”

Her job now is to expand the group from 40 to 90 people by next year and then to 200 in five years.

 “We’ve spoken about creating a single team for years and now we are doing it. If we want the environment team to grow it needs to be managed by environmental people and have its own career progression and training. That’s what I am putting in place,” she says.

 “My major priority is to recruit a number of high level principles to manage a team that needs grow to 90 just to serve requirements within Amey. Then when we are bigger we can compete for outside work. It’s exciting and there’s a lot of opportunity for career development.”

Workload is coming from roads, rail and increasingly utilities – something which Fitzpatrick says will be a significant growth area in the future.

Having one single environmental team does not mean have one single base, Fitzpatrick stresses. “We are a forward looking business,” she says. “You can join the team pretty much wherever Amey is located around Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. And there are opportunities internationally as well. It’s a dynamic way of working that is proving very attractive to people. Amey makes good use of people’s skills; it looks for the best in individuals and lets them work flexibly.”

Currently a typical day for Fitzpatrick revolves around assessing CVs, completing the five year business plan and finding out about her staff. “I’m doing a lot of professional development reviews – understanding the experience we have already, who can do what and where, joining the dots so to speak.”

 “We’ve also had 100 applications for graduate positions. We knew we had a compelling graduate offering but that’s more than we were expecting so we are very pleased.

The new team is going to help drive culture change in Amey related to the environment. “You have to be clever about it,” she says. “The infrastructure sector is becoming more environmentally aware but as specialists we have to explain the benefits of what we do in an engineer’s language – how best environmental practice can improve value in terms of cost and time efficiencies.

“I need strong willed people with a passion for the environment because they are going to be constantly challenged. They need to be able to say ‘no, that’s not the best way; this is what we should do.”

The skill sets Fitzpatrick is recruiting for include ecology, noise and air quality assessment, waste strategy development, archaeology and landscape design.

“The key to being a successful environment consultant is to plan for the environmental issues right at the start of a project rather than bolt it on later. That’s what we are doing at Amey.”

Fitzpatrick is delighted with her new role, one she didn’t want to miss even though she’s juggling being a mother of three young children including an eight month old baby. “I’ve never worked at a company before where you feel there is so much opportunity. No one puts any limits on what you can do. You could start in one part of the business and end up somewhere else; you are never pigeon-holed.”

Her own attributes, she says, are that she is passionate about the environment, is driven but approachable.

And her ambition? “Day by day, over the next 12 months, it is to have in place the right people and skills at the top of my team so we can go out and develop the business.”

Find out more about the Amey Environment & Sustainability Team  vacancies here and enter the code ADV00014802 in the reference box.

Orla Fitzpatrick: Career path

Who was your first employer and why?

I studied a BSc in Geophysical Science and then a Masters in Environmental Consultancy. My first job was with the United States Geological Survey in California as this was the epicenter (excuse the pun) of earthquake hazard research, and also I got to live in San Francisco for three years. After that I worked for UK several consultants before joining Amey in 2009.

Who has had the most influence over your career and why?

My old line manager in our Belfast Amey Consulting office. He understood the importance of understanding the environmental risk in every project and supported the growth of the local environmental team.

What can employers offer to make you most happy in your career?

Support from senior management, for you to never feel like they don’t have your back.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Every day in the environmental consultancy profession is worthwhile experience. Even all those cold and wet mornings undertaking water quality monitoring at a landfill site on the side of a very exposed hill will provide you with some useful skills.  

What is the best thing so far in your career?

The opportunity this role has given me in growing a small team to a significant national team.


If you would like to contact Jackie Whitelaw about this, or any other story, please email