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Matt Cook

What have you been doing since finishing your studies?

Following the completion of my Masters course at Leeds, I have been working as a Graduate Engineering Geologist at a large engineering consultancy firm. I’m currently working towards gaining Chartership with the Geological Society and have been involved in a range of projects both in the UK and overseas to assist with reaching this goal.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

I work for Mott MacDonald Limited, a large global multidisciplinary consultancy with projects in sectors ranging from infrastructure, tunnels and bridges and airports, to energy, water and global development.

I work as part of the Geotechnics team in the Croydon office and the majority of my work focusses on scheduling and supervising ground investigations and then analysing and interpreting the data to aid in design work. I write detailed reports using industry standards for clients and other external users. I have worked on high profile infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 and HS2 but also on smaller UK based projects and overseas work.

I spent 2 months supervising a ground investigation in a remote part of Zambia, arriving at work by boat on the Zambezi surrounded by crocodiles and hippos which was a fantastic experience and a real test of my initiative and organisational skills. My time has been split between working on site and in the office and I enjoy the variety of my day to day work. It’s an often over-used cliché but genuinely every day is different in this sector.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

My course had significant collaboration between Academia and Industry at all levels of study ensuring that the things studied during the course help to prepare for entering the workplace. The fieldwork element of the course allowed me to practice the skills learned in the lecture theatre in a simulated work environment and gain skills I have applied directly in my day to day work. Mapping of a landslide at Phyti in Cyprus developed geomorphology skills which I use every time I visit a new site.

At Leeds you can build a lifelong network of friends and colleagues who you can turn to for advice as you progress and who can potentially open up new and interesting opportunities. Studying at Leeds allowed me to develop my ability to collaborate and to share ideas and was been essential as I began my career in the Engineering sector.

Looking back, why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I had completed an undergraduate course in Geological Sciences at Leeds with an International year studying in New Zealand, working during the summers in the Mining Sector in Canada and in Northern Ireland. Through this I had gained a passion for field work and applying my geological skills to practical and economic applications. Choosing to do a Masters in Engineering Geology at Leeds was therefore a natural fit, as it is well grounded in Industry and combines both the academic study of soil and rock mechanics, hydrogeology and hazards with the practical skills and Industry awareness of field work, ground investigation and following industry guidelines and specifications.

I always found Leeds University to be a supportive, welcoming university with a diverse student body and with plenty of societies and clubs to keep you occupied outside of your course. The campus has everything you could need, with an active Student Union and plenty of bars, shops and sports facilities. and you are only a short train or car journey from the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District where I spent a lot of happy weekends during my years in Leeds.

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why?

The fieldwork was my favourite part of the course as it allows you to get to know your peers and lecturers better, develop your skills in a real world environment and gives a nice break from the lecture theatres. The first fieldtrip to Whitby and the East Coast allowed me to get to know my fellow course mates and develop bonds and connections that helped me to get the most out of the course going forward. The final fieldtrip to Cyprus at the end of the year brought together all the years learning and was excellent preparation for the Master’s projects and dissertation. The lecturers, demonstrators and non-teaching staff were incredibly supportive, approachable and friendly and assisted in developing my technical skills as well as helping me when applying for jobs and the subsequent interview process. The course was well known for having high employment or further study rates which was particularly attractive.

What other activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I was involved in the Society of Economic Geologists as an undergraduate both as a committee member and as President in my final year and I continued to be involved during my Masters. The society brings industry and academia together across the mining, engineering and oil and gas sectors and I had the opportunity to attend a major conference in Vancouver, Canada and to arrange and attend talks by guest speakers from a range of companies across the globe.

I was a regular volunteer for open days and outreach programmes within the department and I worked as a Subwarden at the University Halls to support other students and provide pastoral care.


What would you say to students thinking about studying the same course at Leeds?

Just go for it! Leeds is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do for all tastes and the university worked hard to build and maintain its reputation as an excellent place to study. I loved my time at Leeds and my undergraduate and postgraduate courses set me up well for my current job and my future career. The course is well designed and covers all of the key skills you might need in a variety of sectors within the Engineering and geological sector. My peers have been employed in a range of jobs in Hydrogeology, Contaminated Land, Modelling and GIS, Geology, Teaching and Consultancy and Contracting. I love the variety of my day to day work and love the mix of site work and office work. The industry is so varied that you really can be the master of your own destiny and pursue a career path that allows you to follow your interests and your skill sets.