Top of the tree
This month's 'Meet the Team' feature focuses on our Senior Arboricultural Consultant, Sebastian Onslow MICFor (Chartered Arboriculturist). We sat down and asked him a few questions….
What do you like the most about your job?
I enjoy working on strategic projects: large master planning sites as our current projects are all landscape-led design. This means that trees and the green infrastructure are a principle consideration from the outset or initial concept of the project.
I particularly like the early engagement with the tree and landscape elements as it means you are able to influence how the project evolves and thus is less prescriptive. I particularly enjoy the longevity of this sort of project, seeing how not only the project but also the landscape changes over time as a result of our input. It’s very rewarding work – and I enjoy being a valued member of the design team; seeing the fruits of my labour develop.
What do you like the least about your job?
Being instructed at the later stages of development projects to resolve avoidable damage to trees. It’s not that it is the least liked aspect of my job, but more that it is the most challenging and frustrating. The late involvement in a project can be tricky in terms of managing and troubleshooting issues that have already arisen. You have to be particularly mindful how you approach these projects, keeping a balance and check between the client’s needs and wants with your own personal integrity and professionalism.
I guess some of the least enjoyable aspect of my job is the essential but mundane business administration – the invoicing, expenses, washing up… It’s such a grind!
Why do you like working for WNIC?
From day one my Director, Peter, made sure I was involved in all elements of projects, big and small, from start to finish. It was definitely a case of 'straight in at the deep end!’. Peter has a lot of trust in the consultants here to implement their best judgement on all aspects of work, allowing them to take responsibility for projects, take credit for the rewarding elements and learn from any mistakes. It’s the best way to learn!
The team is so dynamic – allowing us to take on a broad range of different jobs. We have an excellent mix of knowledge and specialisms in the company that allow us to deal with a wide variety of clients and projects. That’s exciting!
What benefits does a client gain by working with WNIC?
Primarily, we pride ourselves on our advice and the speed of delivery of our plans and reports. These are consistently of a high quality and we’ve had some great feedback recently from our client outreach. This is achieved by our really engaging team, all of whom have enthusiasm for all different aspects of projects.
In general, as a company, we offer work that encompasses 3 key areas to cover planning constraints: tree, ecology and land surveys. In essence, we're a one stop shop for many of our clients and which also goes a very long way towards planning success. We are a ‘solution-based’ company and rather than put up barriers or saying a design is unachievable, we enjoy the challenge of finding an alternative way to achieve success. This in turn, is carried out under our company ethos of on-going liaison and engagement of our clients, to ensure we deliver exactly what they need, in an easily understood and practical format.
What do you do outside of work?
With two young children, it goes without saying alot of my free time is taken up with their various activities including sports clubs and parties!. It’s really important for me to be able to spend precious time with my family and theres nothing better than escaping to the Cornish coast.
I've been a season ticket holder for Fulham FC for 20 years, following them up and down the football league, so it could be said that I enjoy the odd match! I also enjoy occasionally escaping my work and domestic commitments by having a light ale down the pub with my mates!
What do you want to do next?
The majority of our current instruction is planning based work. With this in mind and based on my knowledge and experience to date, I've identified further areas that I would personally like to develop experience including subsidence issues, further decay analysis and legal work involving trees.
Finally, in the long-term I'd very much like to lecture in Arboriculture and give a little back to an industry that has given me so much opportunity and the career that I have today. I clearly remember the positive impact that some of my lecturers had on me when I was a student and I'd welcome the opportunity to reciprocate and share my knowledge and enthusiasm with others who too, are keen to make a difference in the world of amenity trees.