beth-thoren-deputy-ceo-of-client-earth

Podcast: Beth Thoren | Client Earth

Today we’re speaking with Beth Thoren, Deputy CEO of Client Earth, and someone who’s spearheading a huge and exciting drive to create 20,000 jobs in nature through a new National Nature Service.

We start our chat today about this big new idea and then discuss her role at Client Earth. Before then Beth shares her fascinating career story to date, which has seen her working in the US Merchant Navy, before landing key roles such as Head of Digital Marketing at the BBC, and Director of Fundraising and Communications, at the RSPB, which is one of the world’s biggest nature conservation charities.

Beth then finishes up the podcast really by talking about her thoughts about how to switch careers into nature conservation. It’s a wide ranging and inspiring chat, which I know you’re going to love. Enjoy. 

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Audio Transcript  

Beth Thoren   

Hello, my name is Beth Thoren. I’m the Deputy CEO of Client Earth.  

Nick   

Welcome, nice to meet you again Beth, thanks for jumping on the podcast. There’s a few things I want to talk to you about today. But the thing that really kind of caught my eye, and actually sort of reconnected a little bit because we had some connection a few years back, but reconnected was this idea about the National Nature Service. And it’s an idea that you’ve been developing recently about creating new paid jobs in UK nature conservation. So I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. It’s so exciting, this idea. Explain to myself and the listeners, you know, what is the idea behind a National Nature Service? And where did that idea come from? 

Beth Thoren   

Sure. Well, just very briefly, what a national nature service is, or what this is, is a jobs programme. It’s a jobs programme, giving opportunities to unemployed people to work in nature conservation. So and at the same time as getting job experience and getting trained, they will be contributing to restoring our very depleted landscapes and seascapes. So that’s what it is. How it came about is that I was looking at all of the stimulus that was being spent post COVID and thinking along with some other people, that this is probably the most important time for nature, in the next 30 to 40 years, that there ever has been, because that money will never have the opportunity to be spent again, this is it. And it can either be locked into fossil fuels, or it can begin to rebuild a green economy and a clean economy. And so it was that sense of we’ve got six to 18 months to save our world. That’s how I look at it and that’s why I think stimulus is so important. It’s so important that we drive it toward green stimulus. 

Nick   

What’s the opportunity you’ve seen then with the current COVID-19 situation? And do you think it’s sort of like reset the clock and give us a new opportunity for a new economy post COVID and you see this as a greener way forward? So, you know, how did you relate the issue, if you’d like the opportunity to the current COVID situation? 

Beth Thoren   

I think that, you know, the government has choices. They can either pump money back into airlines, and pump money into steel works, because people will be losing their jobs. And absolutely, you know, that is a real problem, you know, we care that people are suffering, or they can help those people transition into different kinds of jobs, that’s going to open up a whole new world for us, a world that is economically strong. And I say that because research has shown that green jobs that provide more jobs than you know the traditional fossil fuel jobs. They take more people. And we need that as an economy; we all know that we need that. So it’s better for people, it’s better for our health. And it’s also more resilient. You cannot imagine a successful economic recovery, without having a strong natural infrastructure. Everything that you achieve that you might achieve in the next five or 10 years will be undermined by climate change, flood, lack of clean water, all of those things are very damaging. So unless we build our natural infrastructure at the same time, as we build other infrastructure, we’re in trouble. 

Nick   

So the time is right. You sense the opportunity and you think this is the big idea. One of many, I guess, big ideas that’s out there that could really help to kind of produce a green economy, transition the workforce into a more sustainable future.  

Beth Thoren   

Yes, that’s right. And I think you know, when you think about a green economy, it has many parts. There are you know, renewable, building efficiency, green innovation, really important stuff. But like I said, unless you pick, you protect your natural infrastructure as well, you haven’t got a green economy. It’ll all unravel. And so for, you know, for me, I had known for years about an idea from the 1920s, a big jobs programme called the Civilian Conservation Corps. And it put 3 million people to work in the US in the 1920s, and planted 3 billion trees, build 700 of the national parks. I mean, the US is still benefiting from this today. And so there’s a real opportunity for us to do that here in this country. And at the same time, you know, I find it really distressing to think of all the people who are unemployed, particularly young people who don’t have the first job yet, or people of colour who are consistently challenged. You know, I really wanted this programme to be about accessibility, and to bring as many people who are struggling into work and into work in the conservation sector, which is traditionally a very white sector. What I find so exciting about the idea is that it provides jobs and training for the people who need it all over the country and some of the most disadvantaged places. It protects our national infrastructure, and therefore our future of our health. And it also is incredibly important for communities. One of the big things that we want to do with this is create more green space. COVID if nothing else told us how badly people need that. And the National Trust did a piece of research and identified 155 most deprived communities that were lacking green spaces. We want to put some money into building those green spaces, and giving people jobs building those green spaces, so that everybody has access to nature.   

Nick   

Amazing. Talking about money, what sort of budgets would you envisage? I mean, you’re currently forgive me if I am getting this wrong. You are lobbying the treasury right now to make this a government commitment going forwards. Treasury fingers crossed, are currently reviewing and we’re waiting to hear in the weeks and months ahead, I guess. Ideally speaking, how much money is required to set something like this up? Because there has to be new money right now, doesn’t it? Because it doesn’t currently exist and to get this going and looking for new funds. What are you looking for? 

Beth Thoren   

Well, I’d say actually, it’s mostly but not entirely new money. Let me just be a little bit clear about that.   

Nick   

Yeah.  

Beth Thoren   

So what we’re aiming to do is to create 15,000 jobs within the sector directly, and another 5000 in supply chain and supporting the work. And we think that that’s going to cost 700 million. And actually, if you know, if you look at that 700 million in the context of what it costs to build a mile of HS2, you know, they’ll burn through that very quickly. If you look at the cost in 2015 and 2016 of the flooding, that was 2 billion in one year. So, you know, yes, it sounds like a lot of money, 700 million that’s going to be delivering, you know, these jobs and these great nature improvements but actually, it’s quite reasonable in that context. And the other thing is, when I say that there is some existing money, there is the kickstart programme. And if government were willing to use at least some of that money, it would go into part of what we need to deliver this programme. Clearly not all, but it would make a contribution. And that’s great. 

Nick   

Yeah so reallocation of some existing funds is really going to help that too. In practice, how do you see this work? And if we can secure the 700 million, you know, soon, get investment there, instead, set the programme up, let’s say five years from now, you know, 10 years from now and say, what do you think the programme looked like in practice? You know, day to day level, you know, what sort of jobs you’d be making available to people? Who would be the partners delivering? You know, have you thought through that?  

Beth Thoren   

Yeah. One of the one of the things when we spoke to number 10, was they said, you know, we don’t believe you can deliver this. So we spent a lot of time saying exactly what projects we would be doing, and what partners we would be working with and how we would do the training. So let me give you a little bit of a picture of that. So first of all, what would they be doing? So the kind of work that we have in mind, I’ve mentioned already that idea of green spaces creating green spaces near people. Absolutely, planting trees. Conservative government has made a commitment around this. They want to plant 30,000 hectares a year. That will create 46,000 jobs going forward. So we need to create and train people who can do that. There are real jobs going forward, there as well as in sustainable forestry. So it’s planting trees, green spaces. Another key thing I mentioned is natural flood management. We know that you know, managing rivers, the flows of rivers and creating wetlands can do far more than hard barriers can do. There’s a limit to that. So we’ll be doing that as well as sort of landscape protection and restoration. And the way it will work is that an organisation could be a local authority, or it could be a nature charity will bid for, there’ll be a fund this 700 million, and they will bid for an amount of money to take a group of trainees for a year, and we’re calling them Rangers. And they’ll take them for a year and move them on to a series of projects, maybe starting with more basic one and as they get more skills, training them up over that course of the year. And over the course of the year, what we’ll be looking to do is give them three sets of skills. One is transferable skills. So that’s how do you work in a team? What’s accountability like? How do you project manage? We’ll also be looking at environmental skills, you know, what is climate change? What is a habitat? How do ecosystems work together? What is a healthy environment? How does renewable fit into energy, that sort of what you need to understand about a green economy. And then the last bit is about employability and entrepreneurship. We are very keen that, you know, we’re training people up because we want them to be ready. And part of that is, you know, having the right CV, but also, we’re moving into a new world. The government’s very keen to have public and private partnerships, and looking at innovative ways of investing in nature. We need young people that can be entrepreneurial, and create their own jobs. That’s personally something I find really exciting. And I think it’s a clear role for the National Nature Service. And I would just say that, while all of the delivery would be done by say, like I said, a local authority or an NGO, there would be a small oversight body, that would kind of be the headquarters, that would set the training standards, that would make sure that we were getting the right mix of people onto the teams and setting the targets around that because we want them to be diverse, and mixed age teams. So there will be a role in sort of strategic thinking about what this programme can deliver. And then all of the partners would actually deliver the work.  

Nick   

It sounds so exciting. It truly does. I mean, I’m so inspired just listening to you and hopeful for the future. I’m hopeful for good news. And it’s so close to what we talk about and support here at conservation careers, too. We talk a lot on the podcast and through our services about entrepreneurship, and how charity does some incredible work. But other funding streams are needed to kind of grow and resonate more impact across the environmental sector and ecopreneurship is such an important one. So, you know, training the entrepreneurs of the future, creating new business models that benefit people and the planet and provide profit, you know, are solely needed. So that’s fantastic. Yeah. And also getting the government more focused on this as a priority too in getting forward. So it just ties everything together. So I wish you all the best with it. You know, I think it’s such a great. We’ll be watching it closely. And we’d love to help as well as best we can. How can people get involved and support the idea if people are listening here? And is there an opportunity to you know, to get behind it a bit? 

Beth Thoren   

Yeah, absolutely. We are about to go out with our public campaign on the first of this week, October 1. And what we need is we need people to be asking for it and showing their support, so that the government can’t say no to it. We have a website, nationalnatureservice.org. We’ve got about 7000 signatures on there now. We need about 100,000. So if you could share that among your friends, and say, you know, pledge your support and that’s also a way for us to get back in touch with you and tell you what’s happening with it should the opportunity arise or should there be other ways for you to help. But really, please just help us get the word out. And help, you know, get people asking for it.  

Nick   

Yeah, absolutely. We’ll do that. We’ll link it from the podcast notes. And this has been launched on Thursday as you’re listening. So we’ll get this out as quick as we can. And we’ll be sharing it. Good luck. We’ll watch it closely. And then on to the other bits of the podcast too. So we wanted to understand a bit more about you Beth, your role at Client Earth right now you’re Deputy Chief Executive at Client Earth and you’ve had a kind of really interesting career path as well leading to where you currently are. So and just the listeners you and I we met I think it was four or five, six years ago, something like that I was at International, you’re at RSPB and we were both discussing penguin campaigns and things like that. So we’ve both gone slightly separate ways but kind of reconnected which is always fun. Let’s talk about Client Earth first and your current role before talking on to your career path. And so for people that don’t know anything about Client Earth, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about Client Earth myself. What is it you know, how do you how do you describe it to the uninitiated?  

Beth Thoren   

It’s a not for profit that uses the law to fight for people on the planet. So fundamentally, it’s like many other environmental NGOs, but we very much focus on the law. And the reason we use the law is because it’s so incredibly powerful. What we do is we shape the law, and we implement and enforce the law. So some of what we do will be advocating in Brussels. We were incredibly influential around the new plastics bills that were published last year. But also we’re quite, we’ll go right into the weeds, and we will take people to court if they are breaking the law. And I think that’s where the power is. You get this incredible leverage of, you know, actually taking people to court if they do the wrong thing. And so let me just give you an example of the kinds of things that we do. So for instance, we’ve had two fantastic wins this week. The first was, we have got an agreement from a court to discuss how the largest coal plant in Europe – bar none – is going to become climate compliant, Paris compliant. And we got that agreement this week from a Polish court. And, you know, it was it, we were using all forms of law, you know, around permitting, as well as what was interesting was using climate and saying, actually, you know, this plant is no longer necessary. There are enough other forms of energy that this is redundant. And the court agreed with us. So that’s incredible. And we’ve already we probably responsible for shutting down about 30 coal plants in Europe. And we’re now going to go after the plants in Asia; those are next in our sights. But another example that I’m very proud of this week is a project that was near to my heart. It’s called the Blue Heart of Europe. But basically, all through the former Yugoslavian countries, there are rivers, untouched, pristine rivers. And there’s a river called the Vjosë River, which is the longest river, an unblocked river in Europe. And it’s beautiful, beautiful river. And we have been fighting to stop authorities from building dams. And we just got approval this week. The Prime Minister announced that he would not be building the big dam that would block it. And then he was hoping to create a national park there. And that’s the sort of power of the law, I find it quite extraordinary. You know, and law never works alone. It needs you know, it needs the expert, it needs the scientists, it needs the campaigners, you know, lawyers never ever work alone. But if you’ve got a lawyer on your side, wow, pretty incredible.  

Nick   

Yeah, I guess politicians listen, don’t they, at the level of the law, they create the law, they’re beholden to the law. Yeah. And they listen to people that advocate, you know, for changes too. So it’s interesting to hear that you’re an organisation, just specialising in that unique kind of power that it kind of, you know, embodies. You talked about a few good examples there, you know, how do you pick the sort of cases that you engage with at Client Earth? Presuming there’s almost an infinite number of things you could be, you know, advocating for and changing, but you know, do you have particular themes of work? Or you know, what escalates them to be a priority for you?  

Beth Thoren   

Well, one of them is, what are the biggest problems in the world? Well, yeah, and what and where so clearly coal is public enemy number one. And we’ve known that for years. Absolutely. We have to stop coal. But then also, it’s about thinking where in the world so, you know, we’ve been working in Europe for ages, but well 10 years rather. But if you think about Asia, they’re planning to build 300 new coal plants. Now, if that happens, it’s game over for us, we’re done. So that’s a screaming environmental problem that if we don’t focus on, we won’t be doing our job. I would also say that when you look at forests, you look at the key locations of you know, pristine, tropical forests. And you know, and you’re either going to be working in the Congo Basin, or you’re going to be working around the Amazon, or you’re going to be working in Asia. And so we think about, okay, those are the areas we need to work, what law can we use. And sometimes you can’t use, you know, if the law doesn’t exist, we can’t use it. So we couldn’t work in, you know, the middle of the ocean, because there is no effective law that manages it. But there are, but where we can find a good law or a decent law, then we’ll poke away at it and see if we can find a way to use it. And I think one of the things our lawyers love about it is it’s hugely creative work. There’s nothing obvious about it. They’re having to make so many corporate law, advertising law, environmental law, they’re all having to work across and beyond their expert areas, to think creatively about what tools do they bring where. And that makes it really agile, exciting and innovative place to work.  

Nick   

It’s a good example of how non traditional conservation skill sets and backgrounds, you know, law, lawyers, the legal profession, you don’t necessarily think of them as wildlife conservationists, but it’s such a broad, diverse industry. We need lawyers, we need these people here advocating, and presumably the lawyers that do it, have a passion around wildlife and environmental issues, and it aligns, therefore their skills with their passions and give them real purpose in their careers. 

Beth Thoren   

I think that’s absolutely right. I mean, what we’re finding now, I mean, we we get lawyers from the top law schools globally, we get lawyers from the top law firms. What’s happened lately, is we’re getting partners from the top law firms, because, you know, they’ve reached the age of 50, they’ve made more money than they know what to do with. And now they actually want to do something good with their skills.  

Nick   

Yeah.  

Beth Thoren   

And, and so we’ve had quite junior jobs being filled by partners, who are fabulously capable, and we’re benefiting from that. 

Nick   

And do you think there is opportunity within the sector for other professions, if you’d like to also switch into conservation and their broader need within wildlife conservation in which you’d be pulling in communications experts or other, you know, unrelated or, you know, seemingly unrelated, you know, roles within the sector? 

Beth Thoren   

Yes, I very much think so. You know, and you’ll see when, when we come to talking about my career that, you know, I came from a very, very different space. And I think there’s a real opportunity, clearly, there’s an opportunity within Marketing and Communications, that’s quite an easy way across into the sector, because you bring very, very relevant skills. Sure, they need to be sort of renosed as it were a little bit and pointed slightly in a different direction. But those skills are relevant. So all of the sort of more core functional skills around finance, communications, etc, are really good ways for people to come across into the sector. And then, of course, the other way is, you know, if you’re willing to work from lower level and go on up, just work your way up or get, you know, a degree. That’s another way to come across. 

Nick   

Reroute your career into a new direction, if you like, rather than just transfer across. Absolutely, yeah. Well, before we talk about your career path, I’d like to hear about your current day jobs, you are Deputy Chief Executive. What’s that like in reality? You know, what’s it like on a day to day basis? How would you describe someone who doesn’t know your role and doesn’t know what a typical day, week, month looks like for you? 

Beth Thoren   

Well, I have quite an interesting role. I’m the Deputy CEO, but our Chief Executive is very outward facing. And so he’s gone a lot of the time. And so, my job is actually sort of running the organisation. So a little bit of that is, you know, do systems work? Are our finances in a robust position? If they’re not, how do I get them there? But it’s also quite strategic. So for instance, you know, we’ve been growing at 30 to 50% a year. We’ve been growing so quickly. And so you know, my job is actually how do you manage that growth? How do you bring enough lawyers in, bring in the support structures around them so that they can deliver, then where do you put them? Well, of course, we want to become a global organisation. We don’t want to be based out of London. We want to be based all over the world. So then you think about, well, where do I need to build offices? So then I’m thinking, okay, we know that we want to be in Asia, where do we build our office in Asia? Do we need an office in Australia to support that? Yes or no. So it’s thinking strategically about how I support the growth. And when I say I, I really mean, the senior management team. And also really, at a top level thinking, you know, do we agree that we’ve got the right issues, in terms of strategic focus, are we spending our time on the right things? We’re constantly kicking the tires on that to make sure that we are. And I think the other thing is, and it’s really become apparent during COVID is that, you know, your job as a leader is to make sure your team’s okay and that they feel safe and can do their job. And with COVID a lot of it has been, you know, I set the vision that I wanted our team to be able to feel safe and comfortable. And you know, no matter what, they were the top priority. And it was very inspiring to see everybody in the organisation think about ways that they can make our staff feel okay, you know, financial support, zoom free times in the diary, so that they could actually focus on their work, you know, just beginning to get used to this whole new way of life. And I’m really proud that our team feels like you know, more than any other organisation that they feel the most supported of any organisation they know of. And aside from making me feel proud and happy, it also shows because right through this whole time, the team has been delivering win after win after win. They have not stopped delivering, even though they’ve had to manage kids or small spaces and whatever. They’ve done an amazing job. So I’m very, very proud of our team. 

Nick   

And you clearly seem to enjoy your job. 

Beth Thoren   

I do. It’s really interesting. 

Nick   

Yeah. It’s always a bonus too. Yeah, it clearly is kind of full of passion for. It’s amazing. Let’s talk about your career path, then. Yeah, because I say you have taken really quite some interesting turns. Really fascinating path. Let me give a quick praise and you correct me if I’ve got anything wrong here.  

Beth Thoren   

Okay 

Nick   

Make your job slightly easier as well. So he did an engineering degree with the US Merchant Navy. And so I saw you spending quite a few years at sea. That’s interesting. I can see a shark behind you on the wall as well. So it obviously got a link to the marine world. You then returned to London, did an MBA at Harvard Business School. Then you were head of Digital Marketing at BBC and Director of Communications for Digital UK, when we were switching over from analogue to digital here in the UK, with the TV. You then took a sabbatical, where you did, you joined the cruise ship, Sea Shepherd on your campaign with Southern Ocean before joining the RSPB, where you were Director of Fundraising Communications, and then bump landed where you currently are at Client Earth. Now, that’s been a really fascinating career journey. Has that been something you sort of plan that out? You’ve been trying to work towards conservation? Or how has one role led to the others? Did just opportunities come on the line? I’m really interested in the kind of, yeah, how the path has been carved if you like?  

Beth Thoren   

Yeah, absolutely. And I guess I always had, have had a bit of a vision about where I wanted to go, but never been quite sure how to get there. But I think that’s okay, as long as you have some sense of where you’re going, you kind of end up in that general direction. And I think that’s okay. The way I got started was that I grew up in one of the biggest cities in the world. And I didn’t have much contact with nature at all. And it happened that one day, I was in a volleyball tournament, at a naval base, I was walking around in between matches, and I sat on this dock, and I looked at the ocean, and I hadn’t seen the ocean much. And I thought, Oh my God, that’s the most beautiful thing in the world. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful and wonderful than spending my life around and near the ocean.   

Nick   

Wow.   

Beth Thoren   

And there I was 15 years old. And I had those thoughts. And then I also had the thought, Well, good luck, you have no bloody idea how to do that, which I didn’t. I had no clue how to do that. One thing led to another and completely by fluke, I found out about the merchant navy. So I applied for it and magically got in. And suddenly I was on this I was on ships going around the world, as an engineer. Now, I’m not an engineer, I don’t particularly enjoy it. But what I did enjoy is being in the middle of the ocean. I did enjoy, you know, going up to Alaska and seeing bears walk along by the shoreline and see otters. And when you’re in the ocean, you see whales, and it’s exploding with life. And I felt incredibly privileged and lucky to be part of that. So I did it for years and years. But you know, you can’t spend your life entire life at sea. And it’s, I wouldn’t advise it. And so I thought, okay, now I want to see how the normal world works and understand how, what drives the economy and how decisions are made, and really understand how the world works. And so I decided, you know, I wanted to understand business. So I applied to Harvard Business School, and I got in, another miracle. That was, I found it really enjoyable, it’s very mentally, hugely stimulating. So I launched myself into business came across to the UK. And then as I was working, you know, I was finding intellectually very stimulating, but I was feeling bad about some of the things you know not bad, but very indifferent to some of the things that I was doing. And my moral compass was beginning to make noises and saying, you can’t do this. So I had a bit of a sideways career trying to find organisations that I felt more comfortable with that more aligned with my values. And that took me into marketing and communications eventually to the BBC. And, you know, again, I was much more comfortable with that because it was for the public good.  

Nick   

Yeah.   

Beth Thoren   

So that would have been fine. Except then I made the mistake of going to Antarctica with Sea Shepherd. It was transformative. It was absolutely transformative. I was by far the oldest person on the ship. You know, full of really passionate 18 year olds risking their lives.   

Nick   

And this is real activist stuff at sea right? That’s what Sea Shepherd is. It’s going out on the open ocean and actually confronting trawlers and whale fisheries and other things. 

Beth Thoren   

Absolutely we were banging up against the trawler, we were crashing through icebergs, we were sending our people out in motor boats to slow them down. It’s really dangerous stuff, really dangerous. And, you know, it was inspiring as well. It was hugely inspiring. And I guess, you know, it touched me. And I just thought all right, enough already, you know, my passion was the ocean. That’s what I always wanted to come back to. Now’s the time to come back.   

Nick   

Right  

Beth Thoren   

And I just decided I’m going to get a job in the nature sector, and I’m going to fight for the environment. And I used my marketing skills to transfer across as Director of Fundraising to the RSPB. And then bit by bit, I’ve been building my sector knowledge and expertise as I’ve gone on.  

Nick   

So did you see that transition to the RSPB as just transferring your skills and knowledge into a new sector, same processes, different contexts and you sold yourself into that role? Or did you have to learn an awful lot of new stuff as well in advance or you felt like I can do that job is just same thing, it’s just conservation that previously was media, for instance?  

Beth Thoren   

I absolutely had a whole load of incredibly useful skills that the RSPB needed.   

Nick   

Right 

Beth Thoren   

There was no doubt about that, that my commercial expertise was they desperately needed. They needed brand building skills, marketing, TV, advertising, all of those skills that I had, they needed, no doubt. But I think it would be false to say I just transferred across, because there are so many things that are different about marketing or communicating within an NGO. They’re hugely different. You’re absolutely in the public eye in the way that a company never is. And so you have to be thinking always in the framework of who are your stakeholders and how might they respond? And also, you know, you’re not asking somebody to buy soap. You’re asking somebody to change their belief systems. So then how do you, how do beliefs work? And that’s something that, you know, there’s a lot of research on, but you have to learn that research. For instance, you know, you don’t scare them, you scare them too much, you turn them off, that’s not going to work. So you have to, you know, use the message of hope otherwise, you’ve lost them. So, you know, there’s all sorts of knowledge that you need to be able to be effective in the NGO sector. If you’re moving across, you have to be honest, that you’ve got a lot to learn.  

Nick   

Yeah. Fascinating. Yeah. And it’s interesting. I sort of reflect recently in one, I think I heard David Attenborough saying something that, like the conservation challenge nowadays is a communications challenge. It is about how we bring people with us. Yeah. And that inspiration and hope, like kill the extinction message, I think is a good one, you know, just move towards showcasing what the problems are and then talking about what the solutions are and that hopeful journey that RSPB obviously pivoted towards you know, and many others are now too. Plastic pollution has been a great example of that. Here’s a problem, here’s a solution. This is what we now need to do and make it discrete and make it obvious. So yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s sort of fascinating conversation also journey, I think that you can you know, follow through. What advice would you give other people who are listening to this podcast, and maybe even like, you know, mid career, even senior level career people who are working outside of conservation, but listening to your story, and would like to make that switch? You know, what piece of advice, would you perhaps offer those sorts of people? 

Beth Thoren   

Well, yeah, I mean, I think you have a number of tools if you want to make a pivot. So, one tool is education. So you can put yourself into, you know, a master’s programme or whatever, and then, you know, use that to move yourself across. But another one that’s really important is experience. And I used volunteering a lot. And I still do use volunteering. I volunteer my time as trustees on other charities. I volunteered my time at one point I worked with, Save the Children, and I advise them on a project and that built my credibility. So I had done that before I moved to the RSPB. So I could say, well, actually, I volunteered on this project, and this is what I learned.   

Nick   

Yeah.  

Beth Thoren   

Even if you think about it, Sea Shepherd gave me a way to say, hey, look, you know, I’m willing to risk my life. I take this stuff seriously. It’s not a sort of random Sunday morning wish for me to come into the sector. I believe it.   

Nick   

Yeah.   

Beth Thoren   

So I’d say education, experience. And then the other thing I would say and this is not just for a pivot, but you know, for any mid level manager is coaching and mentoring. You know, I think people don’t realise how many chief execs and senior people are coached. But they are because they don’t have many people that they have a chance to talk to, and that strengthens you. It helps you think about what you want in terms of your career, but it also helps you perform well and have the credibility that you need. And I would strongly encourage more mid level managers to get themselves coaching so that they build the personal strengths and know what they’re good at. And build on that. 

Nick   

And really accelerate towards where they want to get to. Yeah.  

Beth Thoren   

Exactly  

Nick   

Yeah. Beth, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you for taking the time. I know you’re super busy lady. So I really appreciate it. And we’ll provide links to the national nature service as well, if people want to kind of go and support, show their support. We encourage people to do that. If people want to find out more about Client Earth and the work that you’re doing there, where should we also send them? 

Beth Thoren   

Just clientearth.org is the place to go. 

Nick   

Yep. And you’re an NGO. So you’re looking for donations, I guess? 

Beth Thoren   

Always looking for donations.  

Nick   

Good okay. 

Beth Thoren   

No, there’s a big world out there that needs saving and there’s far more than we can we can do at the moment. 

Nick   

Absolutely. Yep. So the more support the merrier. Yeah. Great. Well, thank you once again for the time. Lovely to connect, lovely to chat. We’ll provide links in the footer and yeah, all the best. 

Beth Thoren   

Great, thank you very much. 

Nick   

Okay, well I hope you enjoyed that everyone. If you did then please do hit that subscribe button to get notified when new episodes are live and also give the ratings it really helps us to get in front of more people. If you enjoy the interviews, we’ve collected the best advice from over 400 professional conservationists into a free eBook, which you can download from the bottom of our website. And finally, if you’ve got any questions or suggestions for the podcast, please tweet them to @ConservCareers. We’d love to hear from you. Okay, till next time, guys, this is Nick signing out. 

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