Michael Rowley

I am concerned about our planet and enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. I started in this field with a B.Sc. in Biology and after initially doing some work as a technician, I set up my own business with a partner. We were one of the first companies to focus on the environmental industry and address the issues of mine drainage as well as metal recovery from incinerator ash. In Canada, this work is done by small to medium-sized technical consulting companies who have developed new technologies to solve specific environmental problems. My twelve years in this industry make me one of the most experienced people who do this type of work.

I have gained my experience by managing projects. I have been fortunate to work on large-scale projects where my company was required to invent a new process and then put that process into play to solve a problem. We have also patented and subsequently sold a process to reclaim copper and zinc from acid mine drainage. We are taking a leadership role in this type of technology. I have been recognized for my efforts by my peers, through newspaper coverage of our successes in the industry and by invitations to lecture and provide technical papers.

There is new and relevant information available although it is sometimes hard to find. I belong to societies and rely on my network of contacts to keep me informed. I also read scientific literature reviews, trade publications, business sections in newspapers and Internet sites for current environmental topics. When time allows I take courses to keep my skills current in first aid and emergency techniques.

The environmental sector is definitely a growth area due to increasingly stringent regulations on the industry. There is great potential for increases in salary as new projects and initiatives are developed. I see growth within my own company and expect to provide a leadership role in ash processing. Our company processes ash from municipal incinerators using the newest technology available. The metals we recover can be reused and provide a recycling advantage instead of a landfill problem.

When you manage your own business it is sometimes difficult to stay focused during times of limited funds and fewer projects. My advice is to be tenacious. Stick with it and the rewards will come. Remember that you are selling new technology and it takes time for it to get established. There are many large companies that need this type of service but it can take time to convince them. Research the environmental issue well and keep your costs low between projects.

My day consists of a number of diverse duties. I may be searching for new investment funding, researching potential new projects, attending meetings with shareholders or colleagues, maintaining records and writing reports. I spend about thirty hours per week in the office with an additional ten hours per week shared between external meetings and on-site work. I rely not only on my highly developed technical skills but also on my written and verbal skills to communicate ideas to staff, project engineers and government personnel.

It is personally rewarding to accomplish something on your own. When the project is your idea and your technology the sense of accomplishment is even greater. My company has taken a leadership role in developing technologies for remediation by metal recovery. In a holistic way, I am trying to lessen the footprint of our civilization on the planet. My contribution may be small but it is something I can feel good about.