Education:Woodbridge School then Newcastle University (2005-2009)
Qualifications:11 GCSE's A*-C; A levels in Chemistry, Maths, Geography, French; MEng degree; Chartered Chemical Engineer
Work History:I've worked at Air Products since graduating (including 6 years on their graduate scheme)
Proposals Engineer (which means I work with other engineers to come up with competitive solutions to meet customer requirements, and work out the cost and timeline for implementation)
My job is to sell air!
OK that’s a bit of a lie, I don’t exactly sell air. Air is a mixture and the job of my company is to separate it into its different parts (mainly oxygen and nitrogen) and sell those. Liquid nitrogen can be used for freezing food because it’s really cold (I mean REALLY cold), and oxygen gas can be used in hospitals or as rocket fuel.
There are different ways to separate and sell the air:
- Different methods will give products with different purities and pressures.
- We can store it as a gas or a liquid for a customer.
- We can build a chemical plant at their site and install a pipeline to send the product to them, or we can fill up a storage tank for them, or we can sell them cylinders/canisters of gas – it all depends how much they want and how often they want it.
How do I fit in to this?
When a company wants to buy some oxygen or nitrogen from us, I have to work out the best way to sell it to them to meet their needs. This involves asking questions about the customer to find out exactly what they want, and then asking questions to lots of different engineers to make sure we can give the customer what they need, at the right cost and in time to meet the deadline. Armed with all this information I develop a proposal to submit to them
My Typical Day
Holding meetings, responding to emails, making international phone calls, travelling to sites...and lots of coffee
Here is an example of a typical day for me:
8:30 – 9:00 Get coffee then check through emails that have come in overnight from America
9:00 – 10:30 Meeting to review a Process Flow Diagram (PFD) for my latest proposal (this is essentially the map of how the air separation plant will be put together. It shows all the major equipment, instrumentation and piping). There are 6 of us in the meeting from different disciplines and we run through each page to check we’ve included all the necessary equipment and instrumentation, we discuss any potential safety concerns, and talk about the feasibility of the changes.
10:30 – 11:00 Some questions were raised in the PFD review meeting that I have to action so I pop upstairs to speak to an Electrical engineer about the size of the electrical building, and another engineer sees me and asks me questions about another proposal I’m working on.
11:00 – 11:30 I’m holding a meeting this afternoon so I make some final updates to my slides and send them out to all meeting attendees
11:30 – 12:00 I call a plant manager in Israel because I have remembered I need something from him by the end of the week – they are 2 hours ahead of UK and it’s a Thursday (in Israel their weekend is Friday and Saturday) so I’m running out of time to ask him. Luckily I get hold of him and he sends me the drawings I need while we’re on the phone.
12:00 – 1:30 Sprint sessions at the park with my work running club, followed by lunch at my desk catching up with the news.
1:30-2:30 General emails and grab a coffee
2:30-3:30 Commercial Kick-off meeting for one of my proposals that we’ve just won. This is where the Business teams and the Engineering teams come together to discuss how we will run the project to make it successful.
3:30-4:30 Proposal Approval meeting (this is the meeting I am hosting). It’s to get approval for a proposal I am about to submit so there are lots of managers there to present to. It’s taken some time to prepare for this meeting to make sure I’ve anticipated a lot of the questions I am going to be asked. Luckily this one goes to plan!
4:30 – 5:30 Make a few changes to the slide pack from the Proposal Approval meeting then send it out to the management team for written approval.
5:30 – 6:30 Reply to some of the emails that have come in while I’ve been in my other meetings and fire an email over to the US (so they can reply overnight) about some upcoming travel plans.
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Becoming a Chartered Chemical Engineer
What advice would you give someone who wants to be in the same career as you?
Go for it! It opens so many doors that even if you decide it's not for you further down the line there are loads of other options for you out there. What's the worst that could happen?!
What do you see as your next step in your career?
Difficult to say as I'm disappearing for a bit soon to have a baby which will disrupt my career plan...though hopefully not for long!
What other sorts of jobs can you do with your qualifications?
Engineering is very varied and transferable so there are many jobs people transfer into from a job like mine - banking, consulting, setting up their own companies...
What's the best part of your current job?
Travel to countries I've never visited before