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Dr Steven Wade

Dr Steven Wade is the Head of the Met Office’s Scientific Consultancy, leading business development and delivering consultancy projects for private sector and government clients.

The science of consultancy

With the challenges of climate change, business and governments around the world are looking for expertise and advice to help them manage the risks. The Met Office Scientific Consultancy was set up in 2014 to harness Met Office research and deliver knowledge to clients both in the UK and abroad.

The consultancy is headed up by Dr Steven Wade, an expert in water resources with a wide range of experience in environmental science and flood risk management. Before joining the Met Office, Steven worked for a private research organisation, working on a range of projects such as the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

When Steven heard about the new consultancy, he jumped at the chance to be involved. “The role was the perfect fit for me,” he explains. “All of my consultancy work was related to climate, so I didn’t hesitate to apply for the job at the Met Office when the right role was advertised.”

On joining, Steven’s first task was to build up the Scientific Consultancy team, while also tendering for consultancy projects and delivering to external customers. The team brings together experts from different sectors such as marine and hydrology, and can also draw on wider expertise within Applied Science.

The mixture of disciplines and expertise is one of the most satisfying parts of the job for Steven. “In my previous role I was the main climate change expert in the company,” he explains, “but now I’m working for the Met Office I can be one of several hundred experts. I get to explore things in more detail and have access to the latest science.”

Varied work

The team works on a huge range of projects, including everything from modelling marine conditions to developing future ‘what if’ scenarios for the UK Climate Change Committee. “We have now completed a large number projects to help customers understand climate risks and to ensure their future plans are resilient to extreme floods, droughts and warmer conditions.”

The consultancy’s work is also gaining an international dimension, as several international projects have landed in Steven’s in-tray. There’s a huge demand for climate expertise to reduce the damage and losses of disasters. As such, Steven’s role comes with a lot of work overseas.

“To make progress you really need to be working alongside the teams based in the developing country,” explains Steven. “You can only make so much progress working remotely.”

Steven is currently spending a lot of his time in Myanmar, as part of a World Bank programme to help their meteorology experts develop the country’s observations and forecasting systems. While Steven gets to indulge his passion for hydrological fieldwork on the Ayeyarwady River, most of the project involves working with partners in Myanmar, offering management support and guiding the programme forward.

“The balance of UK and international work is a great part of the job – it is good to travel and work with lots of different people,” he enthuses. “It is also good to continue my UK research and consultancy in the water sector.” Steven is working with UK universities on water resources research and was recently appointed as an Independent Environment Advisor for Severn Trent Water’s Water Forum.