Attending the Masterclass with Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the UK Environment Agency, arranged by the Patchwork Foundation was an utterly eye-opening and an inspirational experience which I can take into my future. The Masterclass on Thursday 2nd September 2021 consisted of an amazing introduction into Sir Bevan’s work, prepared questions that he answered and an incredible open Q&A session to end the event, all providing us with extraordinary insights. I found the Masterclass to be targeted towards those of us at the early stages of our careers and I am very much excited the implement all this advice into my daily life.  

 A few pieces of advice Sir James Bevan imparted particularly resonated with me. Such comments were:  

  • Build the Right Culture in Your Organisation: As a leader within an organisation, this is something you can invest in and will affect how everyone behaves. He also spoke around the topic of the difference between an Alpha and Alpha Plus leader, where an Alpha leader is someone who improves an organisation when they join, but an Alpha Plus leader is someone who creates a company culture where the company continues to improve after they have left. These words personally inspired me to reflect on how I can implement these habits into my life as an Alpha Plus leader. 
  • Keep on Learning: No one ever achieved a new insight by being accepting of the knowledge that has come before them. It is necessary to challenge the conventional way of thinking as it is often wrong. The magnitude of this is more prevalent than ever. As we innovate to solve the world’s mounting and challenging problems conventional thinking has to be challenged as a catalyst to this success. 
  • Be Kind to Yourself: As potential leaders of the future, whatever we decide to do will be tough. Therefore, looking after yourself is of utmost importance by avoiding working too hard and managing your energy instead can help to avoid the effects of burnout. From my experience, this could take many forms such as daily meditation or self-care. 
  • Have a Support Network: These close people in your inner circle will support your success at each stage of life and are indispensable in order to lift you up upon the occurrence of failures and mistakes. 

In addition, James shared the massive impact of different experiences on his career to date, from having spent time in Zaia, Angola, where he uncovered that educating girls is a single magic bullet to improve all the other parts of a country, to his mother handing him the job posting for the UK Environment Agency. Further to this, he spoke about the future trajectory of the UK Environment Agency, describing it as an exciting place to work which was of a great interest to me as a current civil engineering student.   

To round up the session, we had a fruitful conversation on how we can incentivise large corporations to push their sustainable habits to the forefront of their operation, over profits. 

Overall, I highly enjoyed the Masterclass delivered by Sir James Bevan and I was personally impacted by his endless optimism. I would personally love to work in the UK Environment Agency in the future, and I am looking forward to further exploring the work of the organisation.


Written by Jasmine Brittan, Masterclass Programme Participant