MOLA's edited Chief Executive Janet Miller

Meet Janet Miller, MOLA's new CEO

MOLA team

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Janet Miller; I am an Archaeologist and the newly appointed CEO for MOLA.

What was your first job?

My very first job was delivering a paper round at the age of 15!

Your last job was Director of Cities and Development with Atkins. How did you progress into this role from your archaeological background?

In 1997 I joined Atkins and grew the heritage team within the organisation. I went on to lead more multi-disciplinary teams on many great projects. One of the objectives I had at Atkins was to bring an archaeological perspective to urban change projects, which I was able to apply on Bahla Fort and Oasis World Heritage site in Oman, the National Planning and Development Strategy for Bahrain, a resort masterplan at Jigong Shan in China, and a major cultural complex in Rabat, Morocco. My later career in Atkins focussed on the issues around contemporary urban growth, city development and the property sector. For my last 2 years at Atkins I led the Future Proofing Cities programme, including the production of the Future Proofing London report in 2015. 

If there is one experience, or piece of advice, you have been given during your career that you value above all others what is it?

Working in China was life-changing for me – coming face to face with another culture’s heritage forced me to recognise and question my own professional orthodoxies and taken-for-granted thinking about how a society thinks of its past.

What do you regard are the biggest challenges for the property and infrastructure sectors over the next two to three years?

In terms of commercial property, there are two challenges in particular that come to mind. The first being certainty in a volatile market, the second being how technology is driving and changing the use of space. Housing developers have their own challenges including how to make the best use of small urban areas, as well as how to build new, connected communities where people want to live and work in the larger out of town developments. Thinking about infrastructure, with the boom in major schemes comes the challenge of having all the skills needed across the sector to deliver interdisciplinary projects on time and within budget.

How do you think MOLA will be able to support the sectors through these challenges?

For building new homes and communities we can help to provide a strong sense of place and belonging to promote community cohesion supported by our outreach and engagement projects. We are already doing our bit for infrastructure and are working on several training initiatives to help ensure that the archaeological skills are in place to meet the current boom. 

Our engagement programmes have grown substantially during the last two years. How do you think archaeology can help us understand societal issues today?

Archaeology can help us understand modern society on several levels. It is a fabulously broad topic - embracing Science, the Humanities and the Arts. It can provide a route into any of these domains for all generations. Also, when one looks at the past, the way people lived and worked holds a mirror up to the way we live in the contemporary world. Archaeologists can and do apply techniques that are traditionally used for understanding ancient societies to the material and activities of different groups today, such as archaeologists working with the homeless and different communities in our cities here and abroad.

How can we work best to mutual benefit and how would you like our Ambassadors to help support us through these uncertain times?

Understanding our clients concerns and needs, and how they would like to engage our expertise to help to address their challenges, is absolutely essential to be able to work to future mutual benefit. I use the word client in its widest sense as our Ambassadors cover a very wide spectrum of groups from property, construction, infrastructure, heritage and academia

How can Ambassadors continue to support - of course, we are already very grateful to our Ambassadors for all the support that they have given over the last two years. I would say to further this, I would like to ask our Ambassadors to champion our many incredible discoveries, to understand what MOLA is trying to achieve through ‘citizen science’  to celebrate and get involved in our archaeology community projects, and finally to champion the role of archaeology in our contemporary world.

What are you looking forward to most in your new role as CEO for MOLA?

Groovy-fying MOLA! As it is our charitable purpose to create knowledge through Archaeology and to get that knowledge out there to benefit people and society, we must ensure that we are truly embracing digital opportunities to keep apace in a rapidly changing technological world.

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