Tessa Harding

Director of Aquatic Ecology

What is your role at Thomson?

I’m responsible for the water division at Thomson, which includes freshwater and marine.

My role on the freshwater side is to develop the aquatic ecology and hydrology business including defining the business strategy, attracting and retaining clients, building the team and delivering project work.

On the marine side my role is to support our marine team lead in business direction and planning, developing new clients and providing technical input to marine consultancy projects.

Why do you like working at Thomson?

Having previously worked in a very large multi-disciplinary consultancy and then a very small practice I see Thomson as my ‘Goldilocks’ company.

I like having the freedom to develop the water side of the business, and the opportunity to develop my skills in business planning and management.

I’ve always been interested in working across disciplines and ‘joining the dots’. With the current focus on global environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, I’m really excited about bringing together our teams to deliver large scale restoration projects.

What does a typical day at work look like?

The day usually starts with a catch up with my freshwater team over ongoing project work and bids. I’m in the office two days per week, so we’ll catch up either face to face or on Teams.

Although mine is a team management role I still have a lot of involvement in project work, so the typical day will include preparing and reviewing reports. Our projects are typically quite small so I’m often preparing quotes and working with our bid writing team preparing tenders.

Part of my role is helping to guide the direction of the marine team, and I meet regularly to discuss business planning work winning and the management of the marine team.

As a member of the senior leadership team I have a number of objectives which sit above the team level and often involve collaboration with other teams in the business. For example, I’m currently working with our talent acquisition team on a graduate recruitment programme.

Where did you study?

I did a BSc in Biological Sciences at Plymouth University and specialised in ecology and conservation. I then trained in botanical survey methods with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and was lucky enough to join a team undertaking freshwater plant surveys with Scottish Natural Heritage. Having done that for a few years I then decided to specialise in aquatic ecology and so funded myself through a masters degree in the biology of water resource management at Napier University, Edinburgh.

What made you choose this career path?

I’ve always been interested in ecology and conservation and chose a degree course which had that specialism.

The National Rivers Authority was set up around the time I graduated in the early 1990’s and although I wasn’t able to get a job with them at the time I was keen to get the experience needed to work in that field.

After I finished my masters degree I was lucky enough to be offered a consultancy role by a former colleague at Scottish Natural Heritage. I realised that consultancy gave the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, both development and research related.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I’m a keen cyclist and try and get out on my bike at least twice per week. I’m fortunate enough to live on the edge of the South Downs National Park, so we have plenty of countryside to explore. I also volunteer in the science department at my children’s secondary school running STEM activities.

"With the current focus on global environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, I’m really excited about bringing together our teams to deliver large scale restoration projects"
Our people make us who we are

A career with Thomson offers you great opportunities for professional and personal development and the chance to achieve your potential in a strongly values-led business.

Our services
Environmental consultancy services covering all ecosystems

We cover all aspects of environmental consultation – from smaller surveys through to strategic projects.

Our Professionals Tessa Harding