'My qualifications were really a perfect match for my current work...'
Bachelor of Science in Geology
Natural Hazards Analyst, Environmental Canterbury
With his role at Environmental Canterbury, Callum plays an important part of natural hazards management, conducting investigations and generating information for authorities and the public.
‘My work spans the whole region, I get to visit and build an understanding of the rivers and plains across Canterbury. I also get to work with a range of interesting people – hydrologists, engineers, planners, and developers,’ he says.
A recent career highlight was being part of a helicopter reconnaissance team, surveying rivers and landslides around North Canterbury and Kaikōura, after the earthquakes in November 2016.
‘It was amazing to be able to be able to see the power of the environment after such an extreme event. I saw lakes, fault ruptures and landslides that didn’t exist last month. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the experience. I think that it is so important that we understand what the land can do so that we can better prepare for, manage and recover from these events.’
Callum first began his journey with UC’s Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Geology, enrolling with a UC Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship for his NCEA results. It opened up a new interest in what more geology can offer, and so he looked towards postgraduate study.
‘After my BSc, I decided that further study would bolster my job prospects in the fields I was interested in. I wanted to broaden the skills and understanding I had developed during my Geology BSc but I wanted to focus more on how society and the environment interact.
‘I think the Christchurch Earthquakes really highlighted the importance of natural hazards for everyone – our society is really at the mercy of the environment.’
He eventually settled on the Hazard and Disaster Management programme, which gave him a variety of different experiences learning about hazard responses and preparation.
‘The HAZM courses were taught using an amazing diversity of methods including field trips, guest lectures, Emergency Management bunker exercises, and even a media conference with about thirty Journalism students,’ he says. ‘All of these different methods really helped to make to content feel alive and relevant, and also gave me many experiences to talk about during job interviews.’
The practical element of his studies was a great opportunity for Callum to get more real-world experience dealing with hazard management.
‘My degree has included more than five week’s total time in the field. I think the field work has been extremely important for developing a range skills that you simply can’t get in a classroom. The catering has always been superb as well, nothing like a three course meal after a tough day on the West Coast!’
His studies worked out well as preparation for his current role with Environmental Canterbury.
‘My qualifications were really a perfect match for my current work. My job fundamentally relies on understanding and communicating earth processes, but it would be impossible to conduct my day to day duties without solid GIS skills and resource management understanding.’
Having a background in other subjects, he says, is also a great support for his career in the industry.
‘Consider what secondary skills and papers will be useful or interesting for yourself or for your career. For me this meant taking papers to do with resource management, Tikanga Māori, and geographic information systems.’
Callum plans to make an impact with his role towards natural disaster knowledge and prevention.
‘I set out to work in a job focused on sustainability and resilience – I want the work I do to be a net positive for society and the environment,’ he says. ‘I am really excited that I have a position where this is the case, and I think I’ll be happy as long as I can work in line with these goals.’