Focus: People Management - The big appointment - Mills takes newly created wildlife campaigning job

Graham Willgoss, graham.willgoss@haynet.com

The film-maker's appointment is intended to boost the profile of the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Steven Mills has taken up the new position of head of campaigns at the Environmental Investigation Agency with a mission to strengthen the organisation's public profile as it celebrates its 21st year.

Mills has been a professional naturalist and film-maker since he graduated with a masters in film from the California Institute of the Arts in 1980, having previously studied at Merton College, Oxford. As an independent wildlife film-maker, he has made 35 television films and worked as a cameraman for the BBC1 series Land of the Tiger and The Secret Life of Plants.

"My work has usually been concentrated at the campaigning end of natural history," Mills says of his reasons for applying for the position. "I have often encountered EIA investigators in my work, and always noticed that they worked very hard, using small resources to admirable effect."

His role will be to co-ordinate agency campaigns on forests, cetaceans, elephants, ozone depletion and tigers in what he describes as "difficult" countries and regions, including Tibet, Nepal, Borneo and China.

"Campaigners tend to be overworked and very deeply into their own subjects," he explains. "They feel the need for someone who has the time to take an overview, come up with fresh perspectives and contribute to more long-term planning.

"As head of campaigns, I can act as referee when everyone needs the same resources at the same time - and, more importantly, as a helpmate and adviser when people get discouraged."

Mills believes there has been a shift away from wildlife campaigning towards what he describes as human-centred concerns. He is eager to re-ignite public interest in the natural world.

"It is important that issues such as wildlife and environmental crime are not neglected," he says. "Human beings must be assured the necessities of life, food, water and security, but it's the beauty and richness of nature that makes life worth living."

Jennifer Lonsdale, trustee and co-founder of the agency, says that although Mills might have thought that he lacked the relevant hands-on experience for the job, his film-making had given him a broad knowledge of environmental campaigning.

"In his work he has always made films with a message," she says. "For example, Tiger Crisis brought the tiger poaching trade to public notice. It fits in well with what we want him to do for us."

Lonsdale says it was necessary to create the new position to have an overview of and co-ordinate the campaigns the agency is running.

"You run an organisation with a management structure that suits you best and with the skills you have at the time," she explains. "Because we have expanded, we need someone such as Steven to draw all the strings together and develop our public profile.

"With so many things going on in so many different places it is easy to forget, but Steven is an excellent multi-tasker and a great motivator. From the handful of excellent candidates, he was the right personality for us."

KEY POINTS

- Steven Mills is the new head of campaigns at the Environmental Investigation Agency

- Mills has been a professional naturalist and film-maker since 1980, and has made 35 wildlife films for television

- His role will be to co-ordinate agency campaigns on forests, cetaceans, elephants, ozone depletion and tigers.

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