Lucy moves from the office to the forest
A Scottish Woodlands employee is making the unusual transition from office management to forest management.
Lucy Phillips started work for the company as office manager at Alnwick, Northumberland, in 2012, having previously worked for the Forestry Commission - but decided over time that she would like to move into a more technical and outdoors role.
She is currently taking the three-year Professional Forester Degree Apprenticeship, run by the University of Cumbria in conjunction with the industry’s professional body, the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Lucy is currently in the first year of her degree and will complete the qualification in August 2026.
Ian Robinson, Managing Director of Scottish Woodlands Ltd, said: “We’re delighted to support Lucy as she builds on her knowledge of the industry to move into a forest management role. Having worked with her for several years in the Alnwick office, I’m certain she will make a great forest manager.”
We asked Lucy to tell us a little more about her decision to take a different career path:
What sparked your interest in forestry as a career?
I fell into the role by chance, if I’m honest. My first job was with the Forestry Commission as a grants and licences administrator, so more administration than forestry, but it’s something I very quickly grew to know and like.
Why did you decide to work at Scottish Woodlands Ltd (SWL)?
SWL was advertising for an administrator at the Alnwick office, I’d already dealt with some of the staff through my role with the Forestry Commission and knew they were a nice bunch - and that it was a good company. It was a great chance to move to another admin role where I could use my forestry knowledge and skills learned while working for the Commission.
What have been your career highlights so far?
I’ve really enjoyed growing in my role and gaining knowledge through my time with SWL, moving from admin and into forest management is something we have talked about for years, so finally getting that opportunity has to be one of the highlights.
How do you find working while studying at the same time?
It’s challenging! Working full time, doing a full-time degree and juggling with home life. I think particularly in these early months adjusting to learning my new technical role, transitioning from my old admin role and managing the new admin team. However, I am really enjoying the course and I’m learning so much, I don’t think I’d learn everything from just doing the job alone, so it is definitely worth the effort.
What encouraged you to move to a technical role?
Having come to Scottish Woodlands with 11 years’ experience from the Forestry Commission, I was able to do GIS mapping, knew the grants systems and understood a lot of the forestry terms, etc and have been using that within my admin role with SWL. Therefore, it was really a natural progression moving into technical as I was already doing part of the role and my team have been really supportive and encouraging.
What will be involved in the 3-year course?
It’s quite full-on but loads of fun and really well laid out. We start each module with a week away at uni, either at Ambleside in Cumbria or Cannock Chase in the West Midlands. We then go back to our places of work and have around seven weeks to put what we’ve learnt into practice and complete an assignment on that topic. When that’s finished, we’re back at uni for the next module. There are around 30 of us on the course, we’re all from varying backgrounds, job roles and geographically spread, which makes it really interesting.
Would you recommend a career in forestry to other young people and why?
Absolutely. It is really interesting and varied work, you get to work outdoors in some amazing settings. It’s very rewarding and I’ve found people working in forestry, both with my old job and new, to be helpful, passionate and encouraging about forestry and generally just really nice.