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Celebrating the brilliant women in #TeamKSB

A blog post by Suzanne Roberts

Suzanne Roberts
Communications Manager

Posted 08/03/2024

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To celebrate International Women's Day 2024 our Communications Manager Suzanne Roberts asked the wonderful women in #TeamKSB three questions to find out what motivates and inspires them and who their female role models are. #InspireInclusion

Shuko Matsuura | Web Development Officer

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

The motivation for working in the environmental charity sector comes from the love I have for this naturally beautiful country, that welcomed me with open arms as an immigrant. As a mother, I also feel a desire to contribute to ensuring that children can live in a better world in the future. While I have worked in the male-dominated IT industry for many years, joining KSB last year introduced me to many women who are clearly working hard to protect Scotland's environment. Seeing their passion and determination for what they do is also something that really inspires me.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

I discovered that my knowledge and experience as a foreign woman, cultivated in an industry almost unrelated to environmental issues such as software product development, can be of some use to the environmental conservation in this country, in the form of web development for publishing and providing tools to people. Regardless of gender, nationality, or skin colour, by accepting things with broad perspectives and promoting diversity within organizations and communities, I believe that we can build a more fair and inclusive society for the next generation.

Who are the female role models in your life?

Foreign women, including Japanese, working in this country are my role models. Among my friends are engineers, healthcare professionals, researchers, and others, who work in various fields despite overcoming numerous challenges. It shows how they are accepted into Scottish society, and how they themselves actively integrate into different cultures, helping to make Scotland a more diverse and inclusive place.

Fiona Gallie | Campaigns Officer (Marine Litter)

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I am motivated by the fact that I am contributing to tackling the climate change issue but also giving back for future generations, to try to make our environment a better and more sustainable place to live in. When I realised this was the sector I wanted to work in, part of my initial thought process was that if I’m going to work for the rest of my life I want to do something meaningful that makes a difference and that is not motivated by money.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

Keep Scotland Beautiful gives me freedom to be creative within my role and the campaign itself is very inclusive. We want to work with all types of community groups, businesses and individuals to help tackle the litter emergency collectively. It is a team effort. All my female colleagues also make me feel included through their ongoing support and encouragement. There is a sense of equality within in the charity rather than competition. 

Who are the female role models in your life?

My mum and my gran have always my biggest role models. I also have a very supportive group of female friends from both school and university days and we all still see each other regularly.

I am motivated by the fact that I am contributing to tackling the climate change issue but also giving back for future generations...all my female colleagues also make me feel included through their ongoing support and encouragement. There is a sense of equality within the charity rather than competition. 

Suzanne Roberts | Communications Manager

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I love being outdoors. It rebalances me, so for me it is sharing this love of nature which has motivated me since I joined #TeamKSB a couple of decades ago. One of my early memories working for the charity was doing a beach assessment at Nairn - I was asking the lifeguard a few questions and he said to me, "I just expected you to be a middle aged man with a beard." The idea that those working in the environmental sector in the late 90s and early 'naughties' had to be male made me even more determined to show other women that we had a place round the table. Now, years on, the balance has shifted and I see more and more young women entering this sector - I am happy to have helped recruit some really great young woman, hopefully opening the door to their careers in the sector too.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

I feel at my happiest after a long walk, a cold-water swim or a simple moment observing a bee visit a snowdrop; so, I do what I can to champion the work that we do – talking up the importance of spending time outside, connecting people to places and reconnecting them with our environment whenever I can. My role at Keep Scotland Beautiful is to tell stories in ways that inspire environmental action. Collaborating, sharing experiences and celebrating positive achievements from a wealth of people from society all, in my mind, lead to a feeling of inclusion helping others to feel they play an important part looking after our environment for future generations of people, plants and animals.

Who are the female role models in your life?

My female role model will always be my mum. She took the time to help me appreciate the things I now know make me happy. She allowed me to play in the mud, paddle in the sea in December, to appreciate the seasons, the walks in the rain that make you feel alive, and that is something that has made me who I am. It has shaped my passion for action to protect our world, it has given me a direction in my career, and I hope it is something I pass on to my own daughter too.

Helena Fox (She, Her/They, Them) | Our Heritage, Our Future Project Officer

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I have a lot of climate anxiety and struggle to compute the enormous changes going on around us. I’m grateful that my work enables me to face some of those changes and challenges head on and to do so alongside such creative, determined and funny women. A big reason I made the move up to Scotland was because of how much the landscape makes me feel alive and held (especially water – I have always been known as the family's water baby!), and the tales and material I studied during my degree in ancient Gaelic language and literature was a reminder of how rooted cultural heritage is in the land. I hope I can play a small part in the fight for our planet, not least when women and girls in countries around the world are already feeling the worst of the crunch of climate change.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

I love that my role in the Our Heritage, Our Future team lets me work with members of the community of all ages. It’s so brilliant getting out and about, hearing from primary school children or local adults about how much they care about the places and spaces around them. I want to keep fostering a sense of inclusion by encouraging everyone to share their heritage with us and working together on how we can best preserve and amplify it. I’m also very content to get lost for hours in archival records or old photographs, searching for the stories and people that can get missed from the dominant narrative and then trying to make sure they get celebrated, too.

Who are the female role models in your life?

I am always heartened and inspired by any woman being unapologetically herself, and there have been a number of women in my life – from family members to school friends, professors to people I’ve happened to cross paths with for an afternoon – who have reminded me to champion all the many facets of myself as a loud, shy, strong-willed, sensitive, and gender non-conforming woman.

And, anyone who’s seen me wearing my Kate Bush earrings in the office won’t be surprised to read that I have to give her a nod. What a trailblazer. 

Natalia Barbour | Campaigns Support Assistant (Marine Litter)

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

Climate change has been something that I feel I’ve grown up aware of. I can remember at five asking my parents, "When we were going to fix it?" At 25 I still want to know, but now I get to be involved in the fixing! What motivates me is thinking of getting the world back to how it should be and how I hoped it would be when I was younger, and seeing all the great work that climate activists around the world are doing in helping the environment.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

Working in communications means that I get to be involved in lots of fun projects, including working with community groups and young people across Scotland. I love speaking to and getting inspired by their drive and determination to help the environment and it solidifies the importance of including young people in the conversation about climate change. It is their future after all!

Who are the female role models in your life?

My mum is a massive role model in my life, she grew up in Colombia, a country that has seen first-hand the effects of climate change in their rainforests and natural spaces. My mum brought me up to care about the environment, teaching me that every little thing we do can help in some small way. She’s also a master litter picker herself and has spent many evenings tidying up the often very messy streets of Glasgow!

Eve Keepax | Senior Officer, Education and Learning

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

It’s important work – decisions and actions made now have impact beyond the immediate time and place. It's meaningful work – its about connecting people with each other and fostering understanding that we’re part of a timeline between the past and the future. I see those motivations as non-gendered. As a woman my lived experiences matches the fact that responsibility for unpaid care work falls disproportionately on women. Environmental charity work is a form of care work.  Perhaps my motivation includes efficient use of transferable skills. Congruence with my values is certainly part of it.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

My role is in the Education & Learning team. We work with schools and nurseries across Scotland.  Our projects and programmes need to be adaptable for urban, rural, small school, large school, contexts across the range of social settings and from nursery age children to senior phase students.  Adaptability is key for inclusion, but before that we need to be relevant and attractive to all of those settings.   A useful question to bear in mind is ‘Why would someone want to do this?’

The best thing – by a country mile – still being genuinely entertained and surprised by the ideas that come from the pupils as they participate. I also get a sense of the warmth and inclusive quality of the teaching that supports their pupils to express their ideas.

Who are the female role models in your life?

Susan Humphries, founder of the Coombes School and who I was privileged to work beside in a previous role, developing outdoor learning and connecting people to their learning in profound, active and joyful ways. Donella Meadows. Both my grandmothers who raised their children in London while bombs were falling; my mother who taught herself computer languages and accounting to find work. I learned playful joy from all of them.

Catherine Gee | Deputy CEO

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I’ve not always had the time to reflect about how my gender impacts and motivates what I do. Giving it some thought, I guess that is because, generally speaking, the environment charity sector is, and has been, well balanced in terms of representation, although not in leadership and top positions but this has improved over the years. I work regularly with amazing women, but also amazing men, within my organisation and the broad range of our partner organisations. It’s the way in which the combinations both collide and come together to be stronger as a collective force that makes the magic happen. Also, I am one of four siblings, two girls and two boys, so in that way my life has always had a good balance and there is sense of mutual respect between us. I am driven by a strong sense of purpose and one which I am lucky to be able to fulfil in this role as I have a long-standing passion, interest and commitment to environment and sustainability, particularly our natural world.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

I am proud to have been in a leadership role as a woman for over 15 years in the sector and generally that has involved working more with men as my direct counterparts. In my leadership role I strive to act with determination, integrity, and compassion and in balancing these hope that I am able to be an inclusive and supportive leader. The purpose and ambition of this amazing charity is to reach, inspire and include as many people as possible in our endeavours to protect, enhance and conserve the environmental sustainability of Scotland and elsewhere. I get to further this purpose every day in what I do, no matter whether that is working to develop and curate partnerships, navigating teams through complex organisational projects and programmes or leading exciting and innovative new initiatives. 

Who are the female role models in your life?

In terms of my professional career, I was very lucky in the earlier stages to have a female boss who provided me with insight, confidence and gave so much of her time to me to help me develop and grow. She believed in me and despite already having a heavy workload she prioritised additional time to support me, coach me and impart her experiences and knowledge for my benefit. I owe a lot to her in terms of my subsequent career development and successes. I’ve not experienced anything like that since, but I hope that some of the things I learnt has enabled me to help others develop and grow.

Juliette Camburn | Senior Officer, Community Initiatives

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I’ve always loved being outdoors, surrounded by nature and being active. I studied a Masters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and, after a few years, started my job with Keep Scotland Beautiful in 2008. Although it’s pretty much a desk-based job, my role is so rewarding as it involves supporting and celebrating communities who are getting active looking after their parts of Scotland, and many of these groups are driven by incredible and inspiring women who manage to fit in their volunteering activities around juggling family, work-life and other commitments.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

Getting to say thank you to all the incredible volunteers who are making a difference to their communities across Scotland Being involved in a programme that is encouraging and celebrating climate and nature friendly activities in even the smallest of areas, and which anyone can get involved with and do. Organising events that bring people together to share experiences, learn from and be inspired by each other – no matter where they are from or what their skills are. Being part of a wider, UK campaign that is all about improving the environment for people and for nature, and which brings colour, fun, enjoyment and brings communities together.

Who are the female role models in your life?

My mum. She showed me how to enjoy and get pleasure from the smallest things in life, whether that was stopping to listen to a bird sing or watching a skein of geese pass overhead; putting a buttercup under your chin to see if you liked butter, or spending time deadheading daffodils in the garden; baking cakes for fundraising events (and obviously for our own enjoyment – especially licking out the bowl after) and spending time listening and supporting other people…she taught me how to love the natural world and all its wonder and magic, and how precious it is to look after it and to enjoy it for our own health and wellbeing.

I want to make people feel they can take action themselves or feel that it’s easy to start making our environment better, whether you are in the centre of Glasgow or in the Highlands on the coast we can all help do our bit to tackle the litter emergency.

Eve Gadd | Campaigns Officer (Marine Litter)

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I want my work to make an impact in some way to our environment, working in the environmental charity sector on Upstream Battle campaign has meant working with lots of people across Scotland to take action on litter that ends up in our marine environments which helps motivate me to keep working for what I am passionate about when I meet others who also want to create a better future for our planet.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

As a Campaigns Officer working on reducing and recording litter, I want to make people feel they can take action themselves or feel that it’s easy to start making our environment better, whether you are in the centre of Glasgow or in the Highlands on the coast we can all help do our bit to tackle the litter emergency and stop litter entering our seas, waterways and natural habitats. We all need to look after our natural world #leaveitebetterthanyoufoundit.

Who are the female role models in your life?

I have a lot of strong female figures in my life and entrepreneurial women (they’ll know who they are), but most importantly when I ask them about what my next steps should be and roles that I am considering applying for, they support and encourage me in choosing a career in which I am passionate about which will make me happy instead of following a more ‘sensible’ and ‘financially smart’  move. This has led me to places I wouldn’t have thought I’d be (like moving to Stirling, Scotland) and keeps things exciting for sure. Also, life is too short to be stuck in an office all the time!

Catriona Rae | Education and Learning Officer

What motivates you as a woman in your role in the environmental charity sector?

I'm motivated to work for the environment because this planet is the only home we have and we owe it to young people to provide them with a safe and stable future.

What is the best thing about your role and how does it inspire inclusion?

Environmental issues are quite often also social issues, especially in the case of climate change. We know that worldwide, women are culturally, economically and socially more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they are more likely to be living in areas of poverty, and more likely to be responsible for their household's water supply and heating. At home, we're seeing increasing levels of anxiety among young women centred around environmental issues and a desire to take action. To do this, we need education and I'm fortunate that my job involves working with young people to give them an understanding of environmental issues and to show them how important their voice can be in making an improvement.

Who are the female role models in your life?

My colleagues at KSB juggling work and family life.

Katie O'Donnell | Communities Manager

What is the best thing about your role and how does it ‘inspire inclusion’

For me, the environment is most important where it intersects with people. We all have the right to live well, and that starts with the things we see and places we go as part of our everyday lives. We may not all live in the most picturesque parts of the country, but simply having buildings and spaces that are well looked after, some decent green space and a few trees, shrubs or flowers dotted around our urban landscape in a sea of concrete and tarmac can make such a difference to our mood and outlook on the world. This is where I see our work at making a real difference to people’s mental health and wellbeing and their pride in their own place, alongside the more obvious positive impacts on local environmental quality, climate and nature. It’s vital that we continue to support groups to make the very best of their green – and not-so-green – spaces to keep on keeping Scotland beautiful for all.

Any female role models in your life? 

I have been inspired every day by the strong women I have worked alongside in Scotland’s voluntary sector for 20 years. Throughout that time I have been privileged to always be managed by women and have been constantly inspired by their vision and ambition, and challenged to always try to do more, do it better, think big. I have been surrounded by female colleagues who take no nonsense, look out for each other, lift each other up and most importantly like a good laugh. I thank them all for the imprint they have left on me.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the women at #TeamKSB, and every woman across Scotland, who continue to inspire us with their incredible passion, determination and commitment to keeping Scotland beautiful.

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