Justin Wilson

From tech whiz to Environmental Compliance Officer—Justin is working for a better tomorrow

When you start your career, you might expect it to be for a lifetime. But what if it isn’t?

Daring to switch careers can be confronting and fraught with challenges. But Justin Wilson’s story proves that if you’re truly passionate about a cause, nothing can stop you.

Walking away from two decades in information technology (IT) and stepping into the world of environmental compliance, Justin is committed to making his part of the world a better place.

Photo of Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson

A fork in the road

At 44, Justin Wilson did something few people would have the courage to do. He left his secure local government job, in search of different, meaningful work. And he says his journey since has been incredibly fulfilling.

As a senior environmental compliance officer in the Brisbane and Moreton Bay regions of South East Queensland, Justin works hard to ensure industrial operators in the region are complying with environmental legislation and policies.

But Justin’s working life today is a far cry from what he was doing just a few years ago.

After more than 20 years in IT, Justin felt the need to explore his childhood love for nature. He wanted to preserve the natural wonders he’d held close to his heart since he was a boy. With the support of his wife and two children, Justin quit his job and began studying Environmental Management.

“I’m a tree-hugger at heart,” admits Justin. “I’m always out bushwalking with my wife.

“Growing up, my parents had adventurous streaks. By the time I was seven, we had travelled Australia for a few years, living on properties with room to run. These experiences inspired my love for the environment. And so, later in life, I realised I wanted to make a career out of actively helping our planet rather than just working behind a computer.”

Four years on, Justin joined the department, undertaking several short-term contracts. But it was only the beginning of his journey with us. In 2018, Justin received a phone call that changed everything.

“When I was still a newbie, I presented as a guest lecturer at Griffith University about the department and my role. After the lecture, my boss called to offer me a permanent position! It was so exciting.”

Following his true north

Justin says he has found a workplace where his values and love for the environment align. Whether he’s inspecting an industry site, attending a contaminant spill or analysing data in the office—his nerve and vigour go with him. Justin even has the chance to indulge in his love for technology through programming and flying the team’s drones.

“I love the variety of the work. I could be writing a report in the morning, monitoring a spill at lunchtime and then conducting a site survey with a drone in the afternoon. And I get to travel across Brisbane and Moreton Bay to do it!”

Over the years, Justin has felt proud knowing his work effects real change. Not just for his generation but for those to come.

“Think globally, act locally. That’s what we do here. My work might not be at the forefront of global warming research or solutions but when you look at all the small changes and improvements we’ve made, it adds up. I have two kids. They’ve grown up now but I still want to make the world a better place for them.”

Finding his place—and his people

Reflecting on his achievements at the department so far, Justin points to his teammates for their expert knowledge and unwavering support.

“The department is the first organisation I’ve worked with since university and so I’ve really learned on the job. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance and generosity of my team. I quickly realised that every challenge is a learning opportunity. And at the end of the day, it feels great to look back on everything I’ve achieved.”

To graduates seeking a career with meaning, Justin says to look no further than the department. But, he notes, there are certain non-negotiables.

“Firstly, you need to be driven by a passion for sustainable development to foster environmental protection—while also striking the right balance for the Queensland economy.

“There are so many opportunities at the department for people with a strong work ethic. If you work hard, embrace opportunities, and love the great outdoors you’ll feel at home here.

So, if you’re out bushwalking one day at Lamington National Park and happen upon Justin, you’ll meet a man who has truly found his happy place.

Looking for your next opportunity?

Are you ready to help conserve and protect our precious environment? Discover a career with us today.