What are the pros and cons of working in an independent specialist ecology consultancy verses working for a large multi-disciplinary engineering firm?

Each has its own set of pros and cons.  Here is a comparison to help you make an informed decision:

Independent Ecology Consultancy

  • Specialized Focus: Independent ecology consultancies typically specialize in ecological services, allowing employees to have a more focused and in-depth understanding of ecological issues.
  • Flexibility: Smaller consultancies may offer a more flexible work environment, allowing for creative problem-solving and customized solutions for clients.
  • Direct Client Interaction: Working in a smaller consultancy often means closer client relationships, giving you a direct role in project decision-making and the opportunity to build client trust.
  • Influence on Company Culture: You may have a more significant impact on shaping the company's culture and values in an independent consultancy.
  • Diverse Projects: Smaller firms often work on a wider variety of projects, providing opportunities to gain experience in different ecological contexts.


  • Limited Resources: Independent consultancies may have fewer resources, which can restrict the scale and complexity of projects they can take on.
  • Stability Concerns: Smaller firms may be more vulnerable to economic fluctuations, potentially leading to job insecurity during economic downturns.
  • Limited Career Advancement: Opportunities for rapid career advancement and specialization might be more limited in smaller consultancies.

Large Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Consultancy


  • Resources and Expertise: Large firms typically have greater resources and a wider range of expertise, allowing for involvement in large-scale, complex projects.
  • Stability: Working for a larger firm can offer more job stability due to diversified revenue streams and a larger client base.
  • Career Development: Larger consultancies often have more defined career paths and opportunities for specialization, along with professional development programs.
  • Global Reach: These firms may have international offices and the chance to work on projects worldwide, broadening your experience and network.
  • Collaboration: You'll have access to professionals from various disciplines, fostering collaboration and broadening your knowledge base.


  • Bureaucracy: Larger firms may be more bureaucratic and hierarchical, which can slow decision-making and limit creative freedom.
  • Narrow Specialization: Depending on the size and structure, you might find yourself more specialized in a narrow field within the firm.
  • Client Interaction: In larger firms, client interaction may be less direct, and relationships might be managed by senior staff.
  • Project Scope: While you may work on larger projects, you might have a more limited role within them due to the hierarchical structure.
  • Work-Life Balance: Larger firms might have a more demanding work environment, potentially affecting work-life balance.

Ultimately, the choice between independent ecology consultancy and a large multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy depends on your career goals, preferences, and priorities. Consider your desired scope of work, the kind of projects you want to be involved in, and your preferences regarding company culture, and make a choice that aligns with your professional aspirations and lifestyle.

JM Pic

Written by:
Jeremy Money
Director, JSM Associates

I have worked within the Environmental and Sustainability sector for 20 years, making me one of the most established and well connected networkers in the market.

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