Island Conservation Communications Specialist Sara Kaiser is interviewing staff that work “behind the scenes” of Island Conservation (IC). We are sharing a series of interviews with these staff to shed light on who they are and what they do to support IC’s mission. The following interview was conducted with Island Conservation’s Account Specialist, Brett Gravlin.
Sara: What is your role at Island Conservation?
Brett: I am an Account Specialist; I’m in charge of invoicing and making sure the money’s coming in, forecasting, and doing analysis on our project-spending to make sure we are spending within our limits.
Sara: Is there anything you particularly like about your job?
Brett: The people. My colleagues are definitely what make me look forward to coming in to work.
Sara: What is challenging about your job?
Brett: It’s a whole new field for me. I was a teacher coming into this. Learning about IC’s mission, what we do and how we do it is very fascinating and fun to learn. There’s a big difference between teaching it and doing it.
Sara: What subject did you teach?
Brett: I taught economics.
Sara: At what level?
Brett: At the high school level. I also received a masters in economics.
Sara: Has anything surprised you during your time here?
Brett: Yes. At my old job, there was always some sort of tension between people. Supervisors were always waiting to get mad at people below them. Here, people plan ahead and prepare. It really reduces conflict. Here, people really want one another to succeed, which wasn’t the case at my previous place of employment. Coming into this environment was really positive. In response to the question “How’s your job?” I say, “It’s amazing, they actually support you and want you to do well.”
Sara: What personally motivates you to work at IC and support our mission?
Brett: I like what we do. It involves very real world-situations where you can make a difference. At Island Conservation, people get things done because they care deeply about our mission, which I appreciate; they’re working to further the cause, not just to receive a paycheck. It’s nice showing up to a place and being part of something that is really making a difference.
Sara: Do you have a favorite island species?
Brett: Yes. I lived in Madagascar for a while and the Ring-tailed Lemurs were amazing! One time I was way down in the south and I was sitting in the shade. These two lemurs came up to me and just started playing with me–walking on me and holding my hand, it was really weird. They’re super playful animals. They’re a very social lemur. There are others that aren’t so social and they just hang out by themselves. But, the Ring-tails hang out in packs, so they’re more fun.
Sara: What island or islands have you been to?
Brett: I spent six months in Madagascar. That was the happiest time of my life because it’s so remote, and there’s such great biodiversity. There’s good surf, the people are nice, the food was good–it’s a great place. I also spent some time in the Seychelles. People there were also really friendly, and the beaches are so beautiful. Everything you’d expect when you see a photo. I’ve been to Indonesia as well and did some surfing there.
Sara: Is there anything you’re looking forward to or are excited about in the years to come for IC?
Brett: I’m just looking forward to learning more contributing more. Regarding the organization as a whole, I like the paths we’re on and I like the trajectory. I’m looking forward to a lot more successful projects down the line.
Sara: What do you like to do outside of work?
Brett: When I’m outside of work I’m usually with my daughter, which is probably about 70% of my time outside of work. If I’m not doing that, I’m playing volleyball or surfing and then spending an occasional morning or two in the pool.
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