Conservation is a way of life!
Bradley Schroder has worked in the Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism Industries for the past 27 years, and gained extensive experience in all departments related to the management of conservation areas.
Previously, he was Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Welgevonden Game Reserve and Welgevonden Reaction Non-Profit Companies in South Africa. Recently he moved from South Africa to Australia to take up the challenge of managing a 23,000 hectare conservancy in the outback of South Australia. He is currently also completing his PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands in the Production Ecology and Resource Conservation Department.
Despite his busy schedule, he had the time to answer a couple of questions for Conservation Careers, to give you an insight into his conservation career development and provide advice for those who would like to become involved in this work field.
Why do you work in Conservation?
Conservation is not like any normal 9 to 5 job… it is a way of life and for people who really are passionate and devoted to helping save our natural resources. This by no means implies that conservation is an easy job, but it encompasses such a diversity of opportunities in which to be involved. Conservation is challenging; not only are we doing our best to save the fauna and flora of the world but in the process we are educating people with less understanding of how vital a role conservation plays in the survivals of all species on the planet, especially humans. In my career, I have had the privilege of working with the most amazing species on the planet including, but not limited to, all the African species such as rhinos. I have also had the pleasure of working with diverse cultures of humans, from local African tribes to wealthy businessmen from around the world, including world leaders such as Nelson Mandela.
Can you tell us more about the activities in your current job, and what challenges you face?
My current job is exciting and challenging because I am out of my natural comfort zone (Africa). So everything is new for me in Australia, especially the fauna and flora, so I am yet again at a steep learning curve in my life. The other challenge is learning the way conservation is managed in a foreign country and how their rules and regulations are applied. A further challenge is living in an extremely arid and remote region of Australia in the outback. My activities are to look at the strategic operations of the organisation and take steps to increase the conservation and research of the area and to tie this in with ecotourism to ensure a long-term sustainable operation going forward. We wish to make the organisation the leader in the industry in Australia, setting new standards and objectives for others to follow.
How did you get your job? What career steps did you take to lead you where you are now?
I was approached by the owner of the organisation and offered the opportunity to take the lead role in this position. I believe that in order to obtain such a job, there are numerous career steps which need to be filled. The first and one of the most important ones is your work ethic… people want to see that you care about what you do, are motivated and self-driven. This is then followed by obtaining excellent experience and qualifications within your field. It is important to have a large diversity of experience, coupled with continued self-growth.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I believe that the best thing about my current job, and actually any job I have had before, is the fact that I partake in jobs that I enjoy. This means that waking up and going to work is not a tedious event for me but rather an enjoyable experience, and I believe that the minority of people in the world have this wonderful opportunity. I am blessed to be able to work in wilderness areas with amazing fauna, flora and a wonderful team of people supporting me.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
It is difficult for me to find worst things about my work. If I think really hard about it, the worst thing is being so far away from family and friends but more especially family.
What is your proudest achievement in your job or conservation career so far?
This is a very difficult question to answer as I have had so many proud moments in respect to achievements made not purely by me but me and my various teams of amazing staff. I have just loved being involved in all the work I have done. I guess one of the proudest moments is yet to come and that will be when I finally complete my PhD.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in conservation?
The most important advice I can give is that you must understand that conservation is a lifestyle. This means that it is certainly not always an easy way to go in life but if you are passionate about the wilderness areas and making a difference, get involved. It is extremely important to work hard, learn from your mistakes and continue with studies whilst getting experience. The biggest downfall in conservation in my personal opinion is that people do not like to share information and yet information is the most valuable asset we have in every field of life, so learn and share as we all want the same results at the end of the day.