A non-linear science career: how I started in terrestrial ecology working on rodents, moved on to fisheries management, and ended up comparing the environmental impacts of fishing to farming. I was drawn to fisheries because there was a real need for science and the kind of analysis I did to help solve real world problems. I was very fortunate that the advent of major computing power and the demand for fisheries management driven by the declaration of 200 mile exclusive economic zones coincided with my completing the PhD. A career formed by good fortune, meeting and working with excellent colleagues, and random events at just the right time. My advice to young scientists in the field is to build collaborations, both with other scientists but also with the managers of the fisheries. Get your hands dirty in real problems, but always remembering the importance of fisheries to the food security of some of the poorest people of the world. What you do really matters.