IT and Augustus.

The fog misted around me so dreadfully heavy and thick, the poor trees in the distance submerged by it even as it provided a glorious backdrop to those nearby. Definitely a waterproof jacket sort of a day, and of course a forester is always prepared so I was able to smugly open the car boot and select a dashing little number in a rather fetching shade of bright luminous yellow. Alas there was no excuse to wear the matching hard hat in the same shade… but I consoled myself and walked happily into the fog as I made my way into Westonbirt Arboretum.

 

Westonbirt welcomed me back last week in the midst of all the fog as I attended an IT Team meeting. Since moving to National Office last summer I have worked on a variety of different projects for various departments, and one role I have worked on throughout has been the Communications strategy for the IT Team. As such I have always attended their team meetings, and I sit within their department in the office. On the graduate scheme, because you are often working on such diverse subjects and with people all over England, it can feel just a little lonely so for me it is lovely to be included within an actual team. IT was one of many services that operated from Silvan House in Edinburgh when the commission incorporated both England and Scotland, but as the business is transitioning into two separate entities England is creating its own IT Team for the FC in England.

When I started with the IT Team upon my Bristol move last summer they were freshly formed and brand new, though some of the members had already been with the FC for years in other roles. It has been terrific over the months to witness the growth in team spirit, and the sheer enthusiasm for all the IT related improvements planned for the years to come. As part of my Communications strategy for the team I devised a plan for a recurring series of articles written by members of the department which are published in an FC in-house magazine called Bark. They are published monthly and I often work with the author on the content. I really enjoy the articles as depending on which colleague is responsible they introduce such different and interesting subjects, while at the same time conveying their enthusiasm to the wider FC.

Work has been jolly busy since the start of the year and I am relishing the chance to work hard in the name of forestry! I do sometimes rather long to be out in the woods involved in working with the actual trees, my workplace the forest floor and not the office. However, management of England’s glorious woodlands requires so many different facets, aspects and types of work and it is important to remember that even those of us who work physically distantly from the woods are making an equally strong contribution to the overall management of the commission and its beautiful forests. After all the smooth running of the Roman Empire relied on the neat interflow of a great variety of roles and positions from scribes to lawmakers, soldiers to farmers. And during the third century crisis one could argue that the over-reliance placed on military skill alone contributed strongly to the decline of the great Roman Empire (though dear old Giibbon had rather different ideas on this). After all in the first century the wonderful Octavian became the great and respected Augustus despite not demonstrating the military might to lead his own troops into battle. Instead his great strengths lay in management and overseeing everything so that it fit perfectly together. Or if you spend too long in the world of ‘I, Claudius’ you start to believe it was really the Empress Livia who did all the managing… I have always been susceptible to the tales of her influence over the empire as spread by Tacitus, Suetonius and Dio, for they make for such a fantastic story. However, there is little doubt for me that Augustus was truly a great leader, emperor and strategic thinker even allowing for the brilliance of the wonderful Livia. For the prominence given to the alleged schemes and plots of Livia in the ancient sources were likely a direct attempt by their authors to diminish Augustus and subtly attack his legacy. I am sorely tempted to conclude by likening the joint logo of the FC, featuring as it does a broadleaf alongside a conifer, to the distinctly different qualities of that magnificent couple sitting together in Rome so long ago… but I fear that would be stretching the benevolence of even my tolerant readers to near breaking point!

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