Season 4 | Our State Foresters | Episode 9

#66 | The work we do is ego-system management, not eco-system management

May 23, 2018 | Brian Cottam

Brian Cottam is the Utah State Forester and Director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. He is also responsible for wildfire management on state and private lands and oversees Utah’s sovereign lands. Brian brings a diverse background and wide experience to the role, including government relations, state and local planning, economic development, environmental collaboration, and association management. He earned a B.S. in social science with a minor in environmental studies from Westminster College of Salt Lake City, and a M.S. in forestry with an emphasis on natural resource and environmental policy from Utah State University. On this show, Brian shares what he is most proud of in his career, how young professionals can get ahead by taking an interest in soft skills, and how to best manage the complex ‘ego-system’ at work, saying at one point, “You can’t manage the forest without the people.”

Key Takeaways:

[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:35] A quick intro about Brian’s background.

[3:25] How did Brian become interested in forestry?

[5:50] What were some of Brian’s favorite jobs?

[9:10] You can’t be successful alone; you can only be successful through partnerships.

[10:35] Unfortunately, not enough people have the correct understanding of what it truly means to collaborate with others.

[13:45] What is unique about Utah’s ecosystems and forests?

[16:55] What kind of leadership positions has Brian had over the years?

[21:15] Most foresters aren’t trained to manage people, so it’s important to bring your team with you on the leadership journey.

[21:35] What is Brian most proud of?

[26:15] Brian was not aware of how political you have to be at the state forester level when he first took on the position.

[28:15] What does Brian wish he’d learned sooner about leadership?

[34:40] Brian discusses what he loves about working with the younger generation.

[38:00] What advice does Brian have for the young professionals out there?

[46:30] What other lessons has Brian learned throughout the years?

Mentioned in This Episode:
Brian on LinkedIn
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton


Leadership Nature is a proud supporter of #forestproud, a diverse community of forest stewards.