After graduating from Aberdeen University with a degree in Zoology, Joanna went on to study for a Masters degree in Ecosystem Services at the University of Edinburgh. She began looking for jobs in project management, however she found it difficult to get into the industry without the work experience employers were looking for.
Joanna first discovered ScotGrad on LinkedIn when one of her former professors shared the Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) placement listing.
The Sutherland-based community regeneration organisation was set up four years ago to improve the resources and opportunities in the area, and has employed Joanna to project manage a proposed community land buyout.
She said: “I’ve learned so much in my short time with HDDT. Although I knew about the project management industry, I had no idea about the community development sector.”
Joanna’s role at HDDT involves the management of a 3,000 acre community land buyout from a willing seller, the Sutherland Estate, and includes the crofting townships of Marrel, West Helmsdale, Gartymore and Portgower.
Joanna has had to liaise between the community, anchor organisation, the seller, consultants, funding bodies, and other stakeholders to ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget.
Joanna added: “The placement has given me the opportunity to expand my network of contacts both locally and within the wider planning industry through attending conferences. I’ve got to know people from all sorts of backgrounds and learned a lot about how to deal with community engagement including public consultation, relevant legislation, funding opportunities, as well as the commercial aspects.
“I’m enjoying developing my skills working on different projects and looking forward to finalising the community land buyout while making the most of my time at HDDT”.
With the community buyout aspect of her project nearing its completion Joanna said: “I’m so happy that I found my ScotGrad placement. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and I’ve learned a lot, and so far it has been incredibly rewarding, interesting and challenging, which is exactly what I want in my career. I’ve got a lot still to learn and there will undoubtedly be unforeseen challenges around the corner that will test me and help me improve my skills and knowledge.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend ScotGrad to anyone. Since university where I managed a couple of projects, I knew that I wanted to explore project management as a career path, however I was unable to pin down a role due to my lack of relevant professional experience. By successfully securing the ScotGrad placement, I’m now well on my way to the career I wanted and so grateful for the opportunity.”