My career to date at Omnia – from Graduate to Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant

My career to date at Omnia – from Graduate to Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant

My career to date at Omnia – from Graduate to Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant

Olivia Maxwell: March 2024

When I started taking an interest in Geography and Physics at school, often being the only girl in my classes, I could never have guessed it would have landed me here, as a Principal Geo-environmental Consultant. I had never heard of this career, and more often than not now spend my time trying to explain what it is I do!

When I was asked to write a piece about my career at Omnia to date, how I started out in a Graduate position fresh out of university, to now, where I am a Principal Consultant, I jumped at the opportunity to share my journey, and hopefully encourage others to do the same!

Why Geo-Environmental?

I studied Geophysics at the University of Southampton, stemming from my interest in how the world works, and wanting to always know ‘how’? When I was coming up to completing my fourth year and it was time to start thinking about careers, I wasn’t sure exactly where I would fit. I had been lucky enough to attend a research cruise for the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project during my time at the University, and got to see first hand how geophysical sea floor surveys were carried out. Unfortunately, it showed I really didn’t have sea legs, and a lot of geophysical careers need you to be out at sea 6 -8 weeks at a time, so that was off the cards!

When I heard about geo-environmental consultancy, it sounded perfect as it offered me a perfect mix of site works (where I could work outside), and technical work, where I could use my data processing and analytical skills I’d been practicing at University.

Finding the right geo-environmental consultancy

I first met some of the team from Omnia at a careers fair they attended, and it struck me how friendly and welcoming they were. It is so hard when you are applying to lots of jobs as a Graduate to know who you might be working with and how you might fit in. The great thing about working with a smaller firm compared to the larger companies is that everyone gets to know each other, and you can just go and talk to the Managing Director!

Its been great fun working with Omnia over the last 6 years, and they haven’t held back getting me to sign up to some crazy challenges including the National Three Peaks Challenge, Go Ape and my own Nine Peaks Challenge as part of our 10th Anniversary Challenge.

reusing soil on site
materials management plan

My time as a graduate geo-environmental consultant

I started with Omnia as a Graduate Consultant back in July 2018, fresh out of university and ready to get stuck in. My time was split pretty evenly between site works and reporting, and I suddenly found I was spending my days organising drilling rigs, logging soils and getting comfortable being on construction sites, something I never thought I would be doing. I spent the first few months shadowing more experienced Consultants who showed me how to log soils, take samples, undertake gas monitoring and groundwater sampling and run a site investigations.

Once I was signed off and out on my own, it was great to feel in control of my own sites, and although the days could sometimes be long, and the weather sometimes very wet (remember to always carry spare socks…), I got comfortable being in control of the works.

Back in the office I would process the data, schedule the samples for laboratory testing and write up the Phase 1 Desk Top Studies and Phase 2 Geo-Environmental Site Assessments. My confidence grew, and just after a year into the role, I was promoted to Consultant.

Progressing from Graduate to Principal Consultant

When I was promoted to Consultant, I couldn’t wait to Project Manage my own sites, starting to speak with the clients more, and see even more of the process – here at Omnia we really do get stuck in with every aspect of the project, from quoting, to doing the site works, and all the way through to issue of the final report.

I continued to learn more and more about the world of Geo-Environmental consultancy, and working on more complex projects, I knew my main interest was in contaminated land: analysing data, understanding the clients site specific requirements and drawing conclusions so that I could recommend what we did next, if they needed to undertake remedial measures and what that would look like. After about 2 years, my line manager, a Senior consultant, phoned me to say he was leaving Omnia, and that I should put my hat in the ring and apply for the role.

I asked myself, ‘was I ready?’, ‘should I stay in the role I’m in for a bit longer?’, but thankfully I applied, what was the worst that could happen! Our directors decided I was ready and was given the opportunity to be a Senior Geo-Environmental Consultant. This was a big step up, because not only was I now running my own projects but overseeing other team members projects and being a line manager for the first time. I was also now reviewing reports, rather than only writing them, and this really helped me develop my reporting skills, to see the sites as a whole, to step back and look at the bigger picture.

After a few wobbles of uncertainty, I started to find my feet with the role, and loved being a mentor for more junior team members, helping them figure out what areas they were particularly interested in, and helping them through any projects they weren’t sure on. With gaining confidence I also started to identify what areas I was really passionate about, and thanks to working with such a great team, have been able to shape the role to what I want it to be.

Last year, I was promoted to Principal Consultant, and I’ll be honest, the imposter syndrome really kicked in. There was a new level of responsibility, and pressure (granted, which I mostly put on myself), but I didn’t want to let my team, or clients, down. I wasn’t sure I was ready or had enough experience, but my managers could see it, and they believed I was ready. Once I’d had a stern word with myself, and really got stuck in with the role, I’ve loved it – I now not only get to mentor other team members, work on some really technical projects, go out to networking events and to meet our clients, but get to be involved with company wide conversations, putting new ideas forward and really developing the Geo-Environmental Team here in our Portsmouth office…and not getting wet on site has its perks!

If the above sounds like a career suited to you or find that your interests align with the role of a geo-environmental consultant, please get in touch with our team by emailing [email protected]

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End of 2023 Fundraising

End of 2023 Fundraising

End of 2023 Fundraising

And that’s it! Our 10th Anniversary celebrations have come to an end.

Throughout 2023, the Omnians were challenged to raise funds for four different charities as part of our 10-year Anniversary. We are proud to announce that the team raised over £5,000 which is a fantastic amount! The funds will be going to four charities; The Rowans Hospice, Canaan Trust, The MS Society’s Preston Branch and Mind. We are extremely grateful for everyone who supported us throughout the year and helped us raise much-needed funds for these incredible organisations.

Our teams took on three different hiking challenges across the UK; The Yorkshire Three Peaks, South Downs Way and The Copper Route of the Peak District. In total, the team took over 1.7 million steps to complete the challenges! Our Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant, Olivia Maxwell also took on her own 9 peaks challenge, hiking the Chew Valley Three Peaks, Surrey Three Peaks and Yorkshire Three Peaks!

We also hosted a Charity Quiz and were joined by clients and colleagues who enjoyed pizza and drinks while competing to win the top prize in our quiz.

The Omnians took part in fundraising activities in each of our offices. This included bake sales, dress down days and donating to the Canaan Trust’s food bank.

Our Managing Director, Lee McDonald said “We aren’t stopping there! Keep your eyes peeled for another announcement coming for 2024”

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10th Anniversary Challenges Completed!

10th Anniversary Challenges Completed!

10th Anniversary Challenges Completed!

The Omnians successfully completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks, South Downs Way and The Peak District Copper Route in aid of four charities chosen as part of our 10th Anniversary Challenge.

On 7th June, the team completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, walking a total of 39.2km (24.5 miles) in a fantastic 10 hours! They started by hiking Pen-y-Ghent (694m, then made their way to the highest peak in the challenge – Whernside (729m), before climbing the last peak in the challenge, Ingleborough (732m).

Our second challenge was walking the whole of the South Downs Way (100 miles). This was completed in four legs across four days in July. The first leg started at Eastbourne and finished at Ditchling Beacon (30 miles). The second leg started at Ditchling Beacon and finished at Amberly (28 miles), the third leg was from Amberly to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (24 miles), and the last leg was completed in reverse, from Winchester to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (20 miles) where we celebrated the end of the challenge with a team barbeque.

Lastly, the team took on the Copper Route of the Peak District, including the famous Curber Edge. They walked 30km (18 miles) in 7.5 hours with a total of 168,000 steps. They saw some fantastic views along the way and even got to enjoy a pint at the end of their trek.

We would also like to thank everyone who’s already made a donation, it is highly appreciated. If you would like to donate to one of our four charities, please choose one from the links below:

MS Society- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-multiplesclerosis-society

Canaan Trust- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-canaan-trust

Rowans Hospice- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-rowans-hospice

Mind- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-consulting-mind

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On 9th August 2023, a team of Omnians completed the Copper Route of the Peak District, a trek that included the famous Curber Edge. John, Rhys, Tim and Will walked a total of 30km (18 miles) in 7 hours with a total of 168,000 steps! This was the third of our 10th Anniversary Challenges, with members of the Omnia team having already completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the South Downs Way. The Omnians have been taking on these tough challenges to raise money for four chosen charities, in celebration of 10 years since Omnia was formed. Please follow the link at the bottom of this page to find out about our 10th Anniversary Challenge and the charities we are supporting

The Copper Route took the team from Hathersage to Baslow and back. Along the way, they saw some fantastic views across Derbyshire and, when they could eventually rest their legs, they even enjoyed a beer at the end!

We would like to thank everyone who has already made a donation, it is highly appreciated, and we have already raised a brilliant amount for charity. If you would like to donate to one of our four charities, please visit our Just Giving pages, or read our 10th Anniversary blog post to find out more:

MS Society- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-multiplesclerosis-society

Canaan Trust- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-canaan-trust

Rowans Hospice- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-rowans-hospice

Mind- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-consulting-mind

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South Downs Way – A Million Steps for Charity

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South Downs Way – A Million Steps for Charity

This year, to celebrate Omnia’s 10th Anniversary, we are undertaking a handful of challenges across the UK to raise funds for four charities. Our first challenge was completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in June – read more about that here.

Throughout July, the Omnians took on their second challenge and hiked across the South Downs Way, completing the full 100 miles across four legs:

1st Leg: Monday 3rd July

2nd Leg: Friday 14th July

3rd Leg: Friday 21st July

4th Leg: Friday 28th July

1st Leg – Eastbourne to Ditchling

The first leg was the longest of the four (always best to start with the worst, right?), and the team finished it in 11 hours. The journey between Eastbourne and Ditchling Beacon was a total of 50km (30 miles) and our team walked a total of 70,000 steps each! They saw some fantastic views, including a range of geographic features – meanders and cliffs pictured below. John, Georgia, Jacob and Annabel started the day walking in bright sunshine but had to battle the sea winds whilst hiking the Seven Sisters, so much so that a couple of them came into work with wind-burnt faces the next day! Towards the end of the day, as they ventured further inland toward Ditchling, the weather turned very grey and they finished the walk in the pouring rain.

2nd Leg – Ditchling to Amberly

The second leg was completed by John, Tommy, Lauren and Abbie on 14th July. They started at Ditchling Beacon, where the first team had finished, and ended their leg in Amberley. Although this part of the journey was slightly shorter than the first and the flattest part of the South Downs Way, the team had the worst weather (it rained most of the day), making the walk much less enjoyable! However, the team managed to finish the 40.5km walk in just under 9 hours, walking 52,000 steps each!

3rd Leg – Amberley to Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Leg three was completed by John, Georgia, Tommy and Annabel, walking a distance of 40km. This part of the South Downs Way started at Amberley, North of Arundel, and finished at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield. The team were lucky with the weather and enjoyed a beautiful day in the countryside, taking in the amazing views. There were a few big hills to conquer but the team got through this part very quickly, in 8.5 hours, with a total of 50,000 steps each.

4th Leg – Winchester to Queen Elizabeth Country Park

The fourth and final leg was completed on Friday 28th July. We decided to walk this leg in reverse, starting at Winchester and finishing at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, so our team could enjoy a barbeque in the park to celebrate the end of the challenge. Although this leg was the shortest (37km), it had the highest peaks – Butser Hill being the highest point of the South Downs Way at 271m. The team (pictured from left to right) included Tommy, Annabel, Abbie, Hannah, Lauren, George, Richard, Will, Georgia, Olivia, John. The team walked a total of 51,000 steps each, and finished in under 9 hours. Waiting at Queen Elizabeth Country Park was some of the other Omnians, ready to congratulate the hikers and pass them a celebratory burger!

Across the four days, our team walked a total of 100 miles (160km) and scaled approximately 4,150m of ascents and descents! The whole challenge was completed by 23 walkers and, in a total of 38 hours, they managed a HUGE combined total of 1 million, 265 thousand steps.

The team have already raised a fantastic amount for our four charities and we would like to thank everyone who has already made a donation, it is much appreciated. To find out more about each charity, visit our 10th Anniversary blog post, and if you would like to donate to our four chosen charities, please use the links to our Just Giving pages below:

MS Society – https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-multiplesclerosis-society

Canaan Trust – https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-canaan-trust

Rowans Hospice – https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-rowans-hospice

Mind – https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-consulting-mind

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On the 7th of June 2023 a team of Omnians completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. Starting their journey at Pen-y-Ghent (694m) then making their way to the highest peak in the challenge, Whernside (729m) then headed to the last peak, Ingleborough (732m). The team completed this in a total of 10 hours!

The team who took part in this challenge have raised over £640 for their chosen charities- MS Society’s Preston Branch and the Canaan Trust.

As they were making their way through the challenge, they enjoyed some beautiful views.

We would also like to thank everyone who’s already made a donation, it is highly appreciated. If you would like to donate to one of our four charities, please choose one from the links below:

MS Society- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-multiplesclerosis-society

Canaan Trust- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-canaan-trust

Rowans Hospice- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-rowans-hospice

Mind- https://www.justgiving.com/page/omnia-consulting-mind

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