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Interview with
Emma Waterhouse
Senior Principal & New Zealand Environments Team Leader

Emma is a Senior Principal and New Zealand Environments Team Leader based in Auckland, New Zealand.  

It is fair to say that Emma is fascinated by the world around us and it is her love of natural sciences that enticed her to complete a Masters in Natural Resource Management at Lincoln University, New Zealand.  

Emma draws on her wealth of experience in environmental impact assessment, approvals and management as she strives to resolve the myriad of environmental challenges we humans face today.

What inspired you to get into that field of study?

I’d always been interested in natural sciences and see the environment we live in and the people (us) who depend on it as inextricably linked and interconnected.

So, while my undergraduate studies gave me an excellent grounding in biology and physical science, my masters helped equip me with policy, economics and environmental science skills, all needed to help solve the myriad of environmental challenges humans face today.   

My reward is when we achieve milestones for our clients, when we win great projects, and I see people grab amazing opportunities with both hands and excel.

How long have you been working at Coffey? 

I was eight years in April; five in Australia and so far, three years in New Zealand.   

What originally attracted you to Coffey?

Great projects and a very solid reputation in the environmental consulting industry in Australia and elsewhere; and Australia was closer to my home town of Auckland than the UK!

Tell us about some of the projects you've worked on at Coffey that have been most inspiration to you.

My first big project with Coffey was managing an environmental and social impact assessment for a liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Queensland, Australia. 

I was on a very steep learning curve being new to Australia and LNG. The incredible team around me was so committed to delivering a high-quality assessment report and showed me just how important people are in every project, no matter how big or small the job.

I’ve worked on several projects in Iraq, including some with local sub-consultants and project engineers. To see the professionalism and passion they have for their country, its environment and people, despite all its challenges, was a humbling and inspiring experience. 

Tell us about the challenges and rewards you face in your role?

The challenge is in balancing the competing demands of managing teams, taking time to help grow people in their careers, and winning and delivering really good technical work!

My reward is when we achieve milestones for our clients, when we win great projects, and I see people grab amazing opportunities with both hands and excel. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself starting out in your career?

Never dismiss an opportunity just because it seems too hard. Don’t make excuses or say the time isn’t right, because it never is and it’s those moments that define your career.

And always say yes to a coffee invite – even if you only drink tea.