Rob Lott

Rob Lott

Policy Manager, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Chippenham, Wiltshire

What does a Policy Manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation do?

Our mission is quite simple – we want to see a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free. To that end I am currently working on one of our biggest campaign areas – the anti-captivity programme.

The remit is vast and involves working with current EU legislation to show that whales and dolphins are wholly unsuitable for life in a concrete tank (the UK closed its doors to dolphinariums over 20 years ago now); working with tour companies to stop promoting visits to marine parks and addressing the issue of live capture of whales and dolphins from the wild to feed the growing number of marine parks in Asian countries, particularly China.

I am also the lead person on WDC’s Orca programme which involves, amongst other things, our Adopt an Orca programme; addressing welfare and safety issues of orcas in captivity and looking at wild orca populations and the man-made and environmental threats they face.

I regularly attend meetings at the EU Parliament in Brussels and meet with other stakeholders and decision makers. The world of whale and dolphin conversation is actually quite small and so it is important to keep an eye on the bigger picture and to work with other like-minded organisations, where appropriate, to effect change.

Sounds like a dream job, how did you get to this position?

I came to the party late. My first degree was in Zoology and I then had a 10 year career in bookselling!

During those years I became an active member of what was then WDCS and paid my dues rattling collecting tins in shopping malls, organising fundraising events and protesting outside embassies.

I then had the opportunity to go back to University to study full-time for a Masters degree in Marine Mammal Science at the University of North Wales, Bangor. My thesis was on the bottlenose dolphins of Cardigan Bay in West Wales. I also started guiding short break holidays for WDC as part of their responsible whale and dolphin watching programme, “Out of the Blue”. On graduating from university I started work with WDC as manager of this travel programme.

Rob Lott

Is the job what you expected?

I have had several roles within the organisation since I first started 10 years ago and the posts I’ve held are constantly evolving – no two days are the same. I have worked in education, responsible tourism, science and now on anti-captivity issues.

I am fortunate in that my role is varied and I spend about 3 to 4 months each year travelling and so get to see first-hand the problems facing whales and dolphins in the world today – both in captivity and in the wild. I feel incredibly privileged to do the job I do and feel that somebody has given me the ball and I want to run with it for as long as I can.

What personal qualities would you say are needed for this sort of career?

You need to be passionate, first and foremost and have the ability to get on with a huge cross-section of people. Don’t lose sight of the end goal and appreciate that tact and diplomacy goes a long way in bringing about change. Try to understand others’ point of view and always base your arguments on the facts.

There’s lots of competition for roles like yours, any advice for people looking to get into this sector?

Embrace the setbacks – and there will be a few – and try to turn them around to your advantage. I think perseverance is key, as is dogged determination. Keep yourself up to date on the current and emerging issues surrounding your particular interest and put yourself forward as a candidate who can offer potential solutions and advice to deal with these issues.