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Ben Slack

Heritage Consultant, RPS Group

Born and raised in Newcastle, Ben studied a Bachelor of Archaeology at the University of New England. He was lucky enough to land a job as a Heritage Consultant right here in Newcastle, although being an archaeologist, Ben’s work often takes him around the country. Ben has a very understanding wife and two young kids so weekends are filled with a mixture of family time and house renovations. Ben absolutely loves Newcastle and particularly all the positive change that is happening at the moment.

1. How do you manage your work/life balance?
It can be difficult, work often follows me home. We have two kids, George, 4, and Valerie, born in February this year, so routine is important, kids in bed by 7 so there are at least a couple of hours of free time is a must. I really enjoy my job so that helps, but you still need a disconnect.

2. Where do you see your industry heading and how have you positioned yourself to benefit from these changes?
There is a big technology shift in archaeology at the moment. A large proportion of the industry is recording historic items, buildings etc. which was always done by hand, now there is 3D scanning and photogrammetry, so it’s always evolving. The other area is trying to evaluate what you can’t see, such as potential sub-surface items, traditionally this is done by excavating, which is destructive, so now we can employ ground penetrating radar to avoid, or excavate right where we need to. RPS has pushed heavily into these areas.

3. What characteristics do you think an individual needs to be successful in your profession (or in general)?
Adaptability and flexibility. No two jobs are the same in heritage consulting so you have to be willing to approach each job as if it’s your first, I don’t think that’s for everyone as you will always be out of your comfort zone. As long as you’re willing to learn continually, you’ll be fine. I think that could probably apply to most professions, just don’t get too far into your comfort zone.

4. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I think I would still like to be in this profession and hopefully seeing and helping with Newcastle’s evolution. This might come from outside my career, my aim is to become more involved with politics in the coming years, it’s something that I never had planned on when I was younger but have begun taking a keener interest in it. The kids will be in school by then so I would like to say retired and travelling around the world, maybe with the kids.

5. What local professionals have had a significant influence on your career and what have you learnt from them?
There has been plenty, archaeology is quite a small profession and luckily everyone is helpful, particularly my colleagues. Tessa Boer-Mah gave me an opportunity when I was a graduate and has really helped me along the path.

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