Jenny Swift

MSc Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy (2002)
Current Job: 
Senior Consultant, SQW Limited

Why did you choose Cardiff University as a place to study?

There were very few postgraduate qualifications at the time offering this subject and the course and department had an outstanding reputation.

What was the best thing about your time as a student at Cardiff?

Many happy memories of great nights out at Clwb Ifor Bach and the Toucan Club (RIP). Also a mad summer cycling trip to North Wales and visiting the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Machynlleth.

What thing or person inspired you most whilst you were a Cardiff University student?

Some exceptionally good friends – they know who they are!

What one thing would you tell someone else about the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff?

Its very well linked into current policy – both in Wales, the UK and internationally and is a great place to study, network and meet like-minded people.

How did your degree most help you in the career or job you have now chosen?

It has been absolutely fundamental to my career and has opened all sorts of doors. After completing my course I joined the graduate trainee scheme at Ecotec Research and Consulting (now Ecorys UK), and a relevant masters degree was a compulsory requirement.

Tell us a bit about your current job, how you got into what you are doing and what you enjoy about it most.

After my graduate trainee year at Ecotec I was offered a post in the Ecotec Leeds office but later left to help launch the SQW office in Leeds in 2003. I’m now a Senior Consultant in SQW’s Leeds office, managing research and providing advice on sustainable economic and social development to local, regional and national Government and not-for-profit organisations. The best thing about working in research and consultancy is the variety – I’m currently managing research projects exploring climate change adaptation and social justice; the social impact of book-gifting schemes on children and families; and the economic impact of place-based regeneration activities. In the (nearly) ten years since leaving Cardiff I’ve also visited nearly every local authority in England, so you really get a sense of the different approaches that places take to development, and can carry transferable lessons back to organisations working in other parts of the country.

What opportunities do you feel have opened up to you as a result of being a student at the Cardiff School of Planning and Geography?

It seems hard to believe now, but back in 2001 being interested in sustainable development was still considered a bit wacky, a bit out there. This was prior to the Stern report, prior to Kyoto coming into force. As climate change concerns have become more mainstream, professionals with an understanding of the issues have become more and more in demand. My MSc in Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy at Cardiff led directly to working on sustainability factsheets for DG Environment and Eurostat at the Ecotec Brussels office, and later to managing research projects for Defra in my current post at SQW Limited.

Tell us any interesting facts about yourself, hobbies or interests that you have.

I’m learning photography and hope to get involved in a project in 2011 called Looking Good Chapeltown, to produce some challenging and positive images of one of the most deprived communities in Leeds.