The Thomson marine team is growing – our latest addition is Dr Bruce Mostert. Here Bruce tells us more about his career to date and how he’s finding life at Thomson.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I co-ordinate and lead marine environmental surveys collecting physicochemical and biological data from habitats including estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, rocky shores, sandy beaches, ports, harbours, shallow and deep offshore environs. I ensure samples are collect according to standard protocols and arrive back in the laboratory in the best possible condition. In the laboratory I process samples, extracting and identifying benthic macrofauna, analyse data and compose reports of the findings of the studies.
What’s the most surprising thing about it?
You hardly see the animals collected in the surveys until you are back in the laboratory looking through a microscope!
How did you end up at Thomson (i.e. what’s your career background / qualifications)?
I completed my university degrees (Undergrad, Honours, MSc and PhD) in South Africa, after which I started working as marine consultant at Anchor Environmental Consultants based in Cape Town, South Africa. I spent five years working with this consultancy gaining exposure to local and international marine consulting projects often in remote challenging locations.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Being a full-time dad and fishing! And travelling and exploring the world.
What motivates you?
Knowing that the work we do has a positive impact, helps preserve the environment and guides major developments or operations to be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
What one thing do you wish you had known when you first started out in your career?
That marine consultancy isn’t just being stuck behind a desk typing up reports, there’s loads of opportunities to get out and get your hands dirty collecting the data.
What excites you about your role / the work that you do?
Each new project is never the same as the last and projects often take me to new and exciting places that I have never seen before and would likely not visit if it not for ‘work’. Every project is an opportunity to explore somewhere new.
What is your biggest frustration about the industry?
There seem to be a few big companies that dominate the larger survey opportunities and breaking into this group will be a challenge.
What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?
Get as much exposure to as many projects/skills as you can, there’s always something new to learn and experience is invaluable.
What moments of your career so far stand out?
Travelling to ‘exotic’ places within Africa, two surveys in particular stand out
The mangroves of Sierra Leone – the mangroves extended over kilometres of channels and creeks and was something I had never experienced before along with unique tropical rainforest type environment and weather system it was really quite a survey.
Berbera Port survey, Somaliland – The desert and the heat (40 0C plus) of Somaliland was something I never thought I would experience and along with high security required to conduct the survey definitely made it a moment that stands out. On top of it all, surveying the coral reefs and collecting beach cores and subtidal grab samples was quite enjoyable!
What do you think sets Thomson apart from the competition?
Our ambition, as a recent starter I was very impressed with the sky’s the limit attitude here, no project is too big, and we’ve set ourselves impressive targets to reach over the next few years and we’re willing to invest in the personnel and equipment to achieve this.
What is the most difficult challenge you’re experiencing in your line of work?
At the moment, landing survey work, being new to the UK there are some ins and outs I still need to get familiar with and I need to rebuild my professional network.