Emily-Daniels-of-the-WiseOceans-podcast

Podcast: Emily Daniels | WiseOceans

Would you love to work in marine conservation but you don’t know where to start? Are you struggling to find work or do you dream of switching your career into Blue Planet conservation?

During this WiseOceans podcast we’re speaking to Emily Daniels from WiseOceans. Emily has always had a sense of adventure and this led her to traveling to Australia at the age of 18, where she began her career in marine conservation. And as a PADI instructor she has worked in marine conservation operations and research station management in countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Honduras and the Seychelles. Now Emily works for WiseOceans now overseeing all aspects of sales, promotion and recruitment for marine conservation organisations through the Wise Work job board.

During the podcast we discuss the types of roles available within the vast marine conservation sector. We also chat about the typical routes in and as always, she shares her career advice on how to become a marine conservationist. So if you’d like to be the next Jacques Cousteau or Sylvia Earle, stay tuned!

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Audio Transcript

Emily Daniels 

My name is Emily Daniels, and I am the administrator of the Wise Work section of the WiseOceans website. WiseOceans is a marine conservation and education company that works globally to strive towards a future with healthy oceans. And WiseOceans does this by employing three core strategies, which is to engage, educate and to inspire.

Nick 

Fab. Okay, so you’re helping marine conservationists around the globe by inspiring, educating and what was the other one sorry?

Emily Daniels 

…and engaging.

Nick 

Engaging. Great. Okay. So tell me a little bit more about WiseOceans then? So who are the people that come to WiseOceans and what are they looking to get from you?

Emily Daniels

So it’s, just to sort of give you a bit of an overview of WiseOceans because it’s actually quite a broad company. So we have three main sections of the company. So the first one is that we have marine educators and reef restoration projects that we run based in hotels in Seychelles and Mauritius. And so that’s sort of an education and restoration program. We also have what we call dive into the classroom. So this is a section of the company where we go into schools in the UK or we can do it via Skype, sort of the global schools, where we go in and give assemblies and talks and classes trying to educate younger people about marine conservation. And then the third section is Wise Work, which is where I’m really focused. So WiseOceans has a section of his website where we have a jobs board, a weekly job alert email, and on this we promote and recruit for a wide range of different paid jobs, volunteer positions, internships, expeditions, and courses and all within the marine conservation sector. So there’s also a lot of careers advice on there. And that’s just a help in an area for people wishing to get into a marine conservation career.

Nick 

Okay, well, let’s talk a little bit about Wise Work then. I would love to hear about the other things as well, particularly working in the Seychelles, marine education that sounds really interesting. But Wise Work the bit that you’re involved with…

Emily Daniels 

Yeah.

Nick 

Can you sort of paint a picture of the types of job in marine conservation? So we talk about marine conservation in Conservation Careers, it’s a really popular and interesting subject. Lots of people would like to work in it, but it covers so many different job types. You know, it’s almost like it’s a theme of work in itself. So you can be an educator or just heard, you can be a fundraiser communicator, you could be a dive master all sorts of things that, uh, how do you kind of explain the kind of marine conservation sects to people who don’t, you know, have a full grasp of all the different roles that are out there.

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, it’s quite difficult because even from my point of view, I’ve worked in marine conservation my whole life, and coming to work with Wise Work, it’s so much broader than even I imagined. We discussed it briefly when we did the webinar a few weeks ago. But it’s really such a growing industry. So whereas previously, a lot of the jobs available, were sort of research focused, or maybe people would go into the academic side of things. At the moment, there’s such a huge variety of different jobs that are available within the sector. So yeah, it’s tricky sort of, to give one overall example, but a lot of the stuff that we advertise on the website are things such as expedition companies, so where people can get early career experience, and then sort of looking at more paid jobs, which are hugely varied instead of what they offer and what you the qualifications that you need to take part in those sorts of jobs. So yeah, it’s a very wide ranging area.

Nick 

Yeah, it really is, isn’t it? I mean, it’s sort of, I guess, it’s interesting that it’s growing as well. There are more jobs available out there. It feels like we’ve done a good job kind of studying the physical terrestrial planet, the land, you know, and in recent years conservation is just kind of spilled over into the seas and the opportunities there, you know, a huge and varied. What are the kind of typical routes in you know, if someone wants to work in marine conservation, what, you know, are there certain entry points or things people need to think about that’s going to help them become more employable?

Emily Daniels 

Definitely, I would say that the route is very dependent on where you’re hoping to be in your career. So there are certain opportunities where education is really key. So if you are wanting to work in scientific research, or the academic side of things, then obviously getting your degrees, your master’s, and even through to PhD. is really essential. But side of the industry that we’re seeing growing more and more is where there are jobs that are available for people who aren’t necessarily coming from that science background, but having a real interest in the conservation side of things. So conservation organisations are looking for so just thinking off the top of my head of some that we’re currently advertising for, will be things like jobs where you’re looking for sponsorship, or investment for charitable trusts, jobs where people are maybe looking for website designers, or content. There’s such a wide variety of roles now within those organisations. I mean you can even take my role as an example. So technically, I work for a marine conservation company, but my day to day tasks are sort of admin, sales, and recruitment. So you may have a background in that rather than a science background, but now there are more and more opportunities available for people sort of wishing to change careers, who perhaps didn’t necessarily start out with a science background. But now there are opportunities there.

Nick 

Hmm. So someone’s listening to this podcast, maybe they’re doing something that is unrelated to conservation right now. But their passion is in the deep blue, you know, they want to work doing marine ocean conservation work. What will be a good first step for them, you know, where should we point them? What should they be thinking about?

Emily Daniels 

I would say that a lot of the jobs advertised have sort of a starting point of just needing field experience really. And that can be gained in a lot of different places against depending on the area that you’re interested in going into. But expeditions are a great way to gain field experience, and for you to sort of work in remote locations, with a team of varying different people and you can learn a lot of skills through expeditions, but also thinking more locally, gaining experience through sort of volunteering closer to home if there’s places in the UK that you can do sort of weekend and evening volunteering. And then this is all really useful because I would definitely say that experience is something that’s listed very highly on most of the job opportunities available.

Nick 

Yeah. We’ve talked a lot on Conservation Careers to people about you know, the importance of gaining good experience for all sorts of reasons. It makes you more employable. It allows you to kind of test drive your job, allows you to network with people, you know, in an industry you’d like to work in, there’s loads of benefits, but it’s also kind of a bewildering area in itself. You know, we talked about the lots of different jobs that are available in marine but there’s so many different opportunities out there nowadays to volunteer and to do internships, some which cost an awful lot of money, some which were totally free, some which are not advertised, and how can people go about finding the opportunities that are available out there and making informed decisions? You know, finding a quality project that is going to deliver good experiences for them? Are there certain questions or things people should bear in mind when planning to do a volunteer or an internship?

Emily Daniels 

Yeah. Definitely. I think the first question you sort of have to ask yourself is what’s feasible for you. So if you have the funds and the time available to do an overseas, a longer term expedition or internship, and then there are some really incredible companies out there that offer all sorts of different opportunities. But what I would say is that a lot of them at the moment are offering not only the experience, but also you can gain additional qualifications on those expeditions. So for example, if you know that you wish to go into part of marine conservation that needs diving qualifications, then there are a lot of expedition companies where you can go and do a dive master course, you can do your rescue diver. And so skills that you can gain whilst getting the experience is very valuable. If of course the time and the budget doesn’t allow, then what you want to think about is sort of transferable skills. So yes, maybe in the future, you would hope to work in an area of marine conservation, more tropical or something like that. But for the moment, perhaps there’s sort of a local bird reserve, or there’s a local beach clean or something like that, where you’re able to show that you can use your initiative to find experiences closer to you and also have those transferable skills where you’re showing teamwork. There is a number of different skills that you can gain from volunteering and internships closer to home that are easily transferred into your final career choices.

Nick 

Are there organisations or companies or charities that you recommend people to take a look at? I mean, could you even mention some names of people that these are experiences you’ve either experienced or you’ve worked with, or you’ve heard great things about that you’d like to share?

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, I mean, talking from a personal point of view, so not necessarily a Wise Work point of view. In my own career, I’ve worked with Coral Cay Conservation. I did my dive master course with them and had an amazing time. Operation Wallacea, I was Dive Operations Manager with them for about four years. And they were incredible to work for and really enjoyed them. And GVI, Global Vision International, I worked as base manager for them and had a brilliant time. Yeah, I think I was with them maybe five years in total. So that personal experience I’ve had with all three of them and I’ve had equally brilliant times, and have always felt sort of fully supported in the field. They’ve got great reputations. They’re quite long running organisations. So that gives you a sense of sort of safety knowing that they’ve been running in those locations for a long time, and they sort of know what they’re doing with it and that sort of thing. But from a sort of WiseOceans point of view, we now recruit for a really large number. I think we’ve, trying to think, I think that’s maybe 14-15 different expedition companies that we’re now promoting for, all of which you’ve got brilliant reputations. We sort of get feedback from people that go on the expeditions. So as part of the Wise Work website, there’s a section that we dedicate to marine expeditions, where we list all of the different ones that promote through us and we sort of give you a rundown of the organisations and what they’re offering and price range. So you can go through all of those and really compare and see exactly what you’re looking for. So that’s quite a good resource for people to be able to use.

Nick 

Right. That’s fantastic. Yep, absolutely. We’ll link to that as well in the show notes. That sounds really valuable. And without naming names at all, but you know, there are, let’s call them cowboys in the market too where you know, they’ll take money but not provide a great experience. What are sorts of red flags people need to look for when choosing an experience? So there’s certain things that questions to ask or you know, things that you just need to bear in mind when you’re reviewing an organisation to make sure they’re going to deliver something quality? Are there things that you know, that are going to help people?

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, I would say reputation is important, and that’s something that you can easily sort of look at yourself. You can sort of look at reviews and you can look at various testimonies of volunteers that have previously been, longevity as well. There are some brilliant new up and coming expedition companies. But equally, the bad ones don’t last long. So if you can find one that’s been running for a long length of time, generally, they’re doing a lot of things right for them to be able to continue and succeed. And, again, it depends what you’re hoping to gain from it. Some of the expeditions are a lot more focused on sort of gaining dive experience or gaining experience working somewhere remote. Other expeditions are very much focused on the science, the research and have a slightly more serious edge to them, which may be what you’re looking for. So think about what you want to gain from it and look at how the different companies can provide that for you because there is a real wide range. A lot of the sort of it is more the science side of things. We’re now promoting for a number of organisations that are running, some are field courses. So different ocean institutes, most of educational institutes are now starting to do expeditions, but that are more school and learning focused rather than field experience focus. So that’s quite good, because that’s opening up a whole new area of experience that people can have on those expeditions.

Nick 

Hmm. And that links I guess, to some of the work that you do, you know, beyond Wise Work as well. The education and reef restoration work in the Seychelles, also diving into depth into the classroom that you mentioned the top there as well. Yeah, can you maybe let’s just talk a bit more about that actually? So that the work you’re doing overseas, in the Seychelles and where else was it?

Emily Daniels 

Mauritius also.

Nick 

And Mauritius, yeah, that’s right. Yeah, what’s going on there and how can people get involved in them?

Emily Daniels 

So that’s a really interesting part of the company. So what we do is we’re based in some of the larger hotels in Seychelles and Mauritius. And we have on site marine educators. So these educators work with the local staff, and also with the guests at the hotel. They take them out on sort of guided snorkels, show them about the reef and it’s just a way of engaging people that may not necessarily sort of be surrounded by marine conservation in their other lives, but are coming to these hotels. And you’re able to basically give them a love for the oceans and hopefully in doing so you’re encouraging that sort of conservation, as well. With the marine educators they also run reef restoration projects, where they’re sort of taking coral fragments and growing those on to restore areas of the reefs.

Nick 

That sounds great.

Emily Daniels 

Yeah. 

Nick 

Let’s talk a bit about your career then as well. So you mentioned well you’ve sounds like you’ve had quite an interesting career already, with GVI, Coral Cay. My wife was a dive master at Coral Cay too back in the day too so that’s quite, and Operation Wallacea. Where did your kind of love for the natural world or the marine world come from originally? Can you kind of remember? Is there a pinpoint or is it something that grew over time?

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, it was quite so when I finished my A levels, I went over to Australia and actually took part in a terrestrial conservation project. And I spent sort of six months working for the National Parks over there. And I really enjoyed it. It was loved like the travel side of things. But then the very last week before I left Australia, I did my open water course and it just sort of changed everything for me. I instantly loved diving. So I went back to the UK with every intention of settling back down and going to university. And I think within like two weeks of being back in the UK, I’d signed on to an expedition with Coral Cay to get my dive masters and it just continued on from there really. I don’t have a science background. I didn’t go to university. So I sort of am coming in from a slightly different angle to perhaps some other people. But I became a dive master and then a dive instructor. And then my route into working in marine conservation was more of a logistical route. So, with Operation Wallacea, I did marine operations management. So I helped set up the research sites, so that when the expedition season began, there were generators and tanks and everything else that you may need on site. So although I wasn’t necessarily directly involved in the science side of things, it allowed me to be out on site. I’d spend sort of three or four months of the year over in Indonesia, and it allowed me to travel and be involved in marine conservation. But my day to day tasks were more as a dive instructor and as marine logistics. And it sort of carried on sort of similarly to GVI. Again, a lot of people who work for these expedition companies do come from a marine biology background. And of course, there’s always the need for science coordinators and reef ecology lecturers on site. But again, you also need someone who can, you know, write a schedule and use spreadsheets, and logistic side of things. So that’s been where my career has always been focused.

Nick 

And what have you enjoyed most about these roles? You know, when you look back, what have been some of the yeah, the things that you, that you’re good at, that you enjoy doing?

Emily Daniels 

It’s funny I always say that the main thing that I love and what I always just want to keep doing is being in the water. So, for me any day that I’m diving is just the greatest day. It’s one of the points that I was going to mention as sort of part of advice for people who are looking to get into these kinds of careers. It’s not always the most straightforward route and there were definitely times where, you know, I was thinking surely there’s an easier career to get into, surely there’s better paid careers. But it’s worth it. I’d like, I wouldn’t change a moment of sort of any of my 13 years in marine conservation because it has all been brilliant. But yeah, I’d say any excuse to get in the water is what makes me happy really.

Nick 

Do you have a particularly memorable moment when you’ve been in the water?

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, that’s tricky. I’ve been very lucky in some of the locations that I’ve been able to travel. My husband’s an underwater photographer, and I’m lucky enough to tag along on a few of his projects. So in the last few years, we’ve spent some time in Papua New Guinea, which was incredible and Misool Eco Resort, which is in Indonesia. But if anybody’s interested sort of in how conservation and eco tourism can work so well together, Misool Eco Resort is utterly inspiring in what they’ve achieved out there. So that was one of the places that I went to and just thought, you know, this is why it’s all worth it. This is why I want to be involved in marine conservation because they’ve got such a huge success story. And that’s definitely somewhere that’s inspired me to continue my career.

Nick 

What are they doing out there? What is their success story?

Emily Daniels 

So essentially, it was founded by I think he was a local dive instructor. He’s working on a live aboard boat out there and found this most beautiful area of Raja Ampat that was currently being used as a shark fin fishery. And through, I think, an incredible amount of determination and hard work, they set up an eco resort, where they’re putting the profits from the resorts go directly back into the conservation, and I think I’m right in saying they’ve now managed to set up a marine protected area that’s three times the size of Singapore. So it’s absolutely huge. They’re doing an incredible job. They have park rangers, so the area is sort of permanently patrolled and they’re working very closely with a lot of local communities. And if you ever get the chance to Raja Ampat on a hot well Indonesia is my favourite place in the world but Raja Ampat is incredible and then you get out to Misool which is further south and it’s just so pristine, it’s what you would imagine the ocean to have been hundreds of years ago, it’s incredible.

Nick 

On a kind of dark February day here in the UK as well. I want to get out there now. Sounds wonderful. Well, it’s been a real pleasure talking to you and hearing about your work, your career, your advice. Have you got any other Wise words that you’d like to you know, share with people in terms of careers advice that’s going to help people to secure that job in the marine environment?

Emily Daniels 

I would just say the main piece of advice that’s definitely paid off for me would be that just make use of every contact that you make. I haven’t since I left Coral Cay, which was about 12 years ago. I don’t think I’ve had a single interview since. Sort of every job that I’ve got has been through a contact or somebody that I met 10 years ago on a tiny island is now setting up a company somewhere else and they need someone you know, it’s sort of, it’s although the industry is growing, word of mouth is very important. Make a very good first impression wherever you go because it’s through those encounters and the people you meet, when you’re least expecting it, that you will be able to grow your network and hopefully build on your career.

Nick 

Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, conservation is a small world, it’s growing but it’s still a small world, the connections are still tiny. So growing the network is a great piece of advice.

Emily Daniels 

Yeah, definitely.

Nick 

Great. Okay. Well, it’s been great talking again, thank you so much for sharing your time and for jumping on the podcast. If people want to find out more about WiseOceans and Wise Work, where should we send them?

Emily Daniels 

Definitely. So if you go to wiseoceans.com and then on there you can read all about our marine educators, our dive into the classroom and then there’s also a section for Wise Work, which is where you’ll find our jobs board, or the marine expedition information. And also, there’s some really interesting sort of blogs and interviews and things like that, which will help you with lots of career advice.

Nick 

That’s great. That’s great. And we highly recommend that. Once again, really nice to chat. Thank you, Emily.

Emily Daniels 

Brilliant, thanks so 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.

Transcription ends.

Career Stories, Conservation Jobs & Careers Advice, Podcast

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