This month, we are celebrating Director, Mat Day’s 10-year anniversary at Environet. Since we didn’t feel we could quite match Vogue’s famous ‘73 questions with…’, we thought it might be more fun to ask Mat 10 questions, one for each year spent working with us, giving us an insight into his successful journey in the business.
What initially attracted you to join Environet, and how has your role and perspective changed over the past decade?
I’d been (thankfully) made redundant from a desk-based software sales role and needed to get back into what I enjoyed most during my education and personal life – being outdoors! I quite simply did a Google search and produced an introductory email, which was then sent to some environmental companies; in the hope my CV would land with one of them – and Environet called me back. Unfortunately, I was suffering with an injury at the time, but the warmth shown by Mark Thompson and Nic Seal, and the communication shared between us, during my recovery, really stood out and led me to be very persistent to secure a role.
Over the last decade, I’ve worked my way up and there now isn’t a scenario that I believe I can’t overcome or haven’t seen before. This was a challenge to begin with, especially as I looked (and was) so young. Thankfully my knowledge and confidence has grown with the role.
Can you share one or two memorable moments or projects that you’ve been a part of during your 10 years with the company?
The first one that comes to mind must be my most terrifying experience- having to stand in the witness box as an Expert Witness for the first time and being cross examined. To make matters more interesting.
I was the Expert for the Defendant which, for some reason always feels more nerve-wracking! The nerves weren’t helped when I was questioned by the Defendant as to my age upon meeting me for the first time 30 mins prior to entering the court room. Against the odds the claim was dismissed, and defendants were awarded costs, so it was a great result in the end.
There have also been a few occasions where my face has appeared on national television or voice over local radio waves. Watching my eldest work out why Daddy was on TV was funny, but I still hate the sound of my own voice!
How have you seen the company culture evolve since you first started, and what aspects have remained consistent?
I see that the culture of Environet is continuously evolving. As we welcome new members to the team, they bring with them new ideas, inspiration and passions that shape our business. What sits behind the colours, are however, the family values that remain strong – setting a great foundation for our Partners to build on. Now that the company is bigger, it comes with its own challenges but ensuring our staff and customers are happy remains key.
Being the most innovative company within the industry has remained a consistent objective – from day 1 of using Xtract Mark1 knowing we were the first to screen Japanese knotweed-contaminated material, to day 3650 seeing our Biochar work appear in National Geographic publications!
In what ways have you personally grown and developed professionally during your tenure here?
Well, I’ve gone from hobbling around my first survey using crutches to being able to stand on my own two feet. I got married, purchased our first house, and welcomed two “wonderful” boys to the world.
Starting out when Environet was so small meant that I quickly became involved in all aspects of the company, which has led to a lot of new skills and understanding.
I’d say a large part of me ending up where I am at Environet is due to the commitment and effort I’ve put into the company over the last decade and the investment put into training me up in the early days. I’ve gone from trying to please the bosses, to trying to please the employees – which is a whole new ball game for me!
If you were to give ‘Mat from 10 years ago’ some advice when he started at Environet, what would it be?
Stick to your guns and opinions younger Mat! Don’t feel you have to please everyone all the time.
Also start racing your bike sooner, you’ve missed out on years of fun!
How has the company supported your career goals and aspirations over the past 10 years?
I certainly didn’t start my career here thinking I’d end up being a director, and if it wasn’t for Environet and the support of Nic Seal and colleagues (past and present) and training through Rowan Consulting, I certainly wouldn’t have made it this far.
Can you highlight any significant changes or advancements you’ve witnessed in the industry during your time with the company?
There’s been a few significant changes during my time in the industry:
- I’ve seen the industry boom and then recoil and then boom and now slow again.
- Watching the litigation landscape grow year on year with Japanese knotweed cases.
- The withdrawal of an effective herbicide Tordon 22k from use in 2014-15.
- The withdrawal of the EA Japanese knotweed Code of Practice in 2016.
- Our little world was discussed by the Science and Technology Committee in January 2019.
- The change from the RICS Information Paper 2012 to the RICS Guidance Note 2022. Goodbye 7m rule!
- It’s not just about Japanese knotweed!
Overall, the industry has matured, and understanding has improved. Lessons have been learned that we can apply to the management of new invasives, that will hopefully mean the impact on people and the economy can be mitigated in future.
How have you seen your team dynamics evolve, and what role do you believe teamwork has played in the success of the company?
I think teamwork has been the key to growing Environet and remaining a leader in this industry! When I first started in London, I did the whole process from taking the enquiries, surveying, digging and spraying on my little trike and all the paperwork that entailed.
As the turnover increased, the size of the team increased, and with that, the establishment of departments and need for communication and collaboration across far more people. A team will always change but it needs its core players and new players working together to push this company forward. We’ve harped on about the Environet Bus before, but I’m a big believer that if everyone is on it and helping/supporting each other, then the environment in which we work is a far more positive place!
Can you tell us about one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face and how you overcame it?
Now this one has got me thinking!
It’s a challenge that has happened before and will continue to happen. Having colleagues decide to move on.
Soon after becoming a Regional Manager, a close colleague decided to spread his wings. That was difficult, losing a great worker and decent human hit me hard personally. Thankfully we’ve remained good mates.
That’s a very specific example but it can be widened out to anyone that leaves Environet. There’s a personal regret that they’ve decided to leave, which becomes somewhat larger when running a company; could I have done anything different, how will we cover the area/tasks that individual carried out.
I still don’t think I have overcome it, but I have learnt that a company, particularly in this day and age, will always see a staff turnover.
Where do you see yourself and Environet in 10 years time?
If only I were Mystic Mat! My boys will be teenagers, so I probably won’t see a lot of them. Hopefully I’ll still be on a bike or in my camper. What I do know, however, is that over the next 10 years, we will continue to grow and excel in what we do, whilst building on our employee ownership, investing in our colleague partners and giving them the opportunity to shape the future of our business.