MA Leadership for Sustainability
Shetland Islands Council
For the past 17 years Jonathan Emptage’s home has been in the Shetlands Islands, where he works as Cleansing Manager for the Shetland Islands Council, in charge of a £3m budget and 30 staff.
With tourism so vital to the economy of the Islands, Jonathan’s waste management role encompasses a broad range of environmentally-focused activities. He is responsible for collecting and disposing of waste from homes and businesses across the islands, and transporting this to an ‘energy from waste’ plant. But he is also charged more broadly with ‘keeping the environment looking good for visitors’ – anything from managing litter collection to ensuring that waste water from public toilets is disposed of correctly, and not discharged into the sea.
So what brought him to the MA in Leadership for Sustainability at Lancaster?
‘I’d done a diploma in management studies about ten years ago, but I wanted to keep my brain active and keep on learning, so I was on the look-out for an interesting course. I wanted to improve my learning and thinking capacity, to help myself in my work and with those I come into contact with. At the stage I’m at in my career, I hope to have another twenty years’ contribution to make – and so was searching for something to help me with that.
‘I knew Lancaster had a good name for MBAs, but didn’t feel the MBA programme was right for me. But I kept my eye on what the Management Learning department had to offer, and when the MA in Leadership for Sustainability came up, I thought “that looks a bit different” – and that in itself appealed to me.
‘I like the way the programme combines leadership and sustainability because in my work – and in my life, too – I’m interested in the environment and taking care of it. I also like the fact that it is a new course: a bit “on the edge”. One of the things that’s good about this programme is that you can test ideas out with others in the learning community, and get their views on different issues.’
Employer support and benefits
He is grateful for the fact that the Council is paying the course fees and allowing him time off for the residential workshops.
‘I try to feed what I learn from the course back into my work – not just for my personal development but also to pass on the learning to some of the managers in my department.’
He is conscious also of how the programme is already affecting his personal and managerial behaviours:
‘The course has made an impact on me, in how I think and deal with things. And it’s had a ripple effect on the people I work with, in a positive way.
‘I feel I’m more attentive not only to how I perceive things but also to how other people perceive things and to how they react to what I’m doing. It helps in how you work with people and how you adapt your approach in ways that encourage people to have a more positive attitude.
‘Doing this programme has given me a step up in my thinking and in my practice at work. And also in how I deal with the environment in my personal life. It certainly makes you stop and think – to question what’s going on and to ask “what can I do about it?”’