- Course: BSc Geological Sciences
Why did you choose Leeds, was is something special about the course, department or place that attracted you?
Firstly, the course suited my interests - it had plenty of opportunities to study mineral deposits so I could focus in on the extractive industry, with specific bundles of modules available in the second and third year to tailor towards this career path.
Secondly (and probably more important ), when I looked around the campus and the city it was a beautiful sunny day, with students out enjoying the sun everywhere. It just looked a great place to be, whereas I visited everywhere else on rainy days.
What is the best or most memorable thing about your time at Leeds, especially your course (but it can be other things)?
I think most geoscience degrees are defined by their fieldwork. Some of them were 'type-two fun' where you only enjoy them retrospectively (such as panning for gold in driving sleet in a stream in Northern Ireland).
Others were fantastic at the time, such as spending six weeks on the Isle of Skye during a heatwave, hiking and mapping every day for my dissertation. I've since revisited my mapping area on holiday for some hiking without the burden of a dissertation.
How has your degree, or the other activities that you were able to participate in while studying shaped or influenced your career?
As above, the option to focus on the mining industry was key. Probably most significant was the combination of the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) Student Chapter and constant encouragement from Rob Chapman. Not many places would afford you the opportunity to go to a conference in Vancouver to gain valuable networking experience after only one year of study!
Tell me about your career: what are you up to these days?
During my final year in Leeds, I secured a place at Camborne School of Mines to study an MSc in Mining Geology. I needed something to fill the summer months between graduation and starting a Masters, and through a series of contacts and an interview in a pub I ended up flying out to Mongolia for the summer to drill for copper in the Gobi Desert. What followed was three months of stomach bugs, parasites and unidentifiable food, mostly based about 800km (three days straight driving) from the capital, Ulaanbaatar. It’s not an experience I wish to relive, but it did make for excellent CV filler.
I began the MSc a week after returning from the Gobi, still rather sick, and spent a year learning the ins and outs of the mining industry, covering everything from mining economics to choosing the correct excavators, culminating in a fortnight road trip around the mining operations on Namibia.
Following my Masters, I spent a few months odd-jobbing in Cornwall and Leeds while chasing up some contacts I made in Namibia. This eventually led to a 5-month drilling job on the west coast of Norway. Fourteen-hour shifts in the sleet were not uncommon, but it was an incredible experience.
After Norway, and a period of unemployment sending out hundreds of applications, I ended up back in Leeds working for AECOM, initially in their Ground Investigation team, before an internal transfer into contaminated land remediation.
Finally, I recently moved from Leeds to Rugby to work as a Senior Geologist for CEMEX, where, amongst many other things, I supervise site investigations across the UK and model current and future aggregate deposits.
What key skills have you developed during your degree that you feel are the most important to your career to date?
Outside of academia, the importance of networking was always highlighted, especially within SEG. It makes a difference now in most professional situations from interviews to dealing with clients and colleagues, and more importantly, I would not have got any of the geological jobs I’ve had if it wasn’t for networking. Unfortunately, there’s also no substitute for hard work either.
Do you have any advice for prospective students about coming to Leeds?
For the geologists - invest in a decent waterproof jacket and boots, they'll see you through. Also, don't just stay in the city - it's so easy to get into the Dales on a sunny weekend and I never realised it at the time.