Interview with a Heritage Consultant

Laure Emery is a Heritage Consultant who works for Simpson & Brown, a multi-disciplinary firm which offers architectural, archaeological, and heritage consultancy services across the UK and abroad. She has kindly offered to answer a few questions about her role, career, and how she became a Heritage Consultant.

Laure, what do you enjoy most about your role?

“I enjoy the variety of projects we work on. We study small vernacular buildings, as well as very large sites and landscapes, from medieval to modern architecture. We work with private owners, local trusts, and volunteers, but also with important bodies all over the UK. You cannot get bored in this job. The best treat is to see incredible places that are not always open to the public, and have a determinant role in their future.”

Can you briefly describe the pathway you followed to become a Heritage Consultant?

“I wanted to work in the understanding and conservation of built heritage, but I was unsure how to get there. I studied architecture and art history in France — my birthplace — which gave me great background knowledge. However, it is thanks to my Master’s degree in Conservation of the Built Environment at the Université de Montréal, Canada, that I really learned how to work in the built heritage sector.”

What advice would you give to an aspiring Heritage Consultant that’s confused about how to get there?

“There is certainly not a single way to become a Heritage Consultant. Anyone with a background in the history of architecture, architecture, archaeology, urbanism, planning or another relevant discipline can find a way.

You need the tools to understand the history of a site, including how to do historical research and assess the various heritage values of the site. You also need a holistic understanding of its context today — how the planning system works, how sites are protected and what that means, what the needs are, etc.

Heritage consultancy is a balance between many disciplines. You do not need to have a degree in each, but expanding your knowledge and experience in related disciplines will certainly help you get better at what you do, and therefore find a job as a Heritage Consultant.”

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

“Working in the heritage sector is fascinating. You constantly learn new things. It’s a world full of passionate people, and it is always in a state of change. The way we look after our built heritage today is different than it was 50 years ago, and it will likely be different again in 50 years time.

There is also some variation in heritage practice from one place to another, so as a Heritage Consultant, it is essential to stay up-to-date and complete CPD activities. It’s great to meet others involved in the conservation of built heritage, to discuss and question what we are doing and the way we do it. Heritage consultancy is certainly not dull or repetitive!”

About Laure Emery

Laure Emery is a Heritage Consultant for Simpson and Brown. She studied architecture and art history in France, before completing a Masters in Conservation of the Built Environment in Canada. Laure then worked as a research assistant for the Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage in Montreal where she completed works for various bodies, including the City of Montréal, Héritage Montréal, and the Commission Scolaire de Montréal. Laure moved to Scotland in 2014 and joined Simpson & Brown as a Heritage Consultant in 2016.

Studying Heritage Management and Consultancy at Exeter

The University of Exeter is now offering a postgraduate programme in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, which will prepare you to compete in the growing field of heritage and consultancy.