Kirkley High School (2001-2006), University of Bath (2006-2010), University of the West of England (2012-2014)
GCSEs including drama, business studies and French; A Levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and physics; BSc in maths and physics, MSc in science communication
LOTS OF PLACES. A t-shirt printing factory, Primark, at a Morrison’s customer service desk, and more. More recently, I worked as a press officer at the Economic and Social Research Council.
Digital communications manager
Royal Academy of Engineering
Favourite thing to do in my job: Creating things to automatically carry out long or boring tasks – in my case this usually involves Excel spreadsheets, but I love hearing about when people do it with machinery!
I use social media and other digital multimedia to share the latest engineering news
I work to share the latest engineering news with the public. News such as cool new inventions, amazing new discoveries and achievements, or data about engineers jobs and skills. Sometimes we’ll be trying to reach politicians with the news, sometimes we’ll be trying to reach engineers themselves – or sometimes we’re targeting young people, parents and teachers to encourage more people to explore engineering.
My role in this involves ‘digital communications’ – that’s things like social media, email newsletters, online videos and interactive tools on our website. This is a relatively new role in my organisation, separate from our publications team (who create printed magazines and other materials) and our news team (who work with more traditional journalists in newspapers and broadcasting) – but we all work closely together.
When we have news or information to share, we’ll dig into it – What’s special about this award-winning engineering? How does it work? What challenges did people have to overcome? How does it impact peoples’ lives? – and get to know the people behind it. If we have a big campaign or an event we’re trying to promote, we’ll boil it down into clear messages – something clear and memorable and interesting.
Then, I turn those ideas and messages into tweets, emails, web pages, videos, and more! This involves writing and a bit of design work. It involves working with other companies, giving them clear instructions, and feedback on their work. It involves splitting tasks up among my team and making sure everything is ready on time and works well together. Most importantly, it means we’ve got to come up with material that’s interesting to the people we’re trying to reach – our audience. Then, we think carefully about how we’re going to share the news – the ‘when’ and the ‘where’ and the ‘who’ – and then monitor the results and feedback.
Having a good understanding of science is really helpful in my job working with scientists and engineers, as is a good basis in maths for doing lots of data analysis on the results of campaigns. Overall, it just helps to have a healthy interest in science and what’s going on in the world – I’m still always learning!
My Typical Day
Go on Twitter, design an email, meet with a company making a video for me, give feedback to colleagues...
I work in part of a central communications team that supports lots of other teams in my organisation, so one of my first tasks is to meet with other teams and find out what they’ve got coming up, what news they need to share, and what they need help promoting.
Then, it’s back to my desk to come up with a plan. This involves a fair bit of writing, but also some design work, to make things visually engaging online.
Sometimes, this means working with a separate company who have more expertise in things like making videos or designing apps – so I’ll need to give them clear instructions and feedback on their work to make sure that what they’ve made delivers exactly what we want.
In between all this, I’m monitoring and posting to social media, keeping an eye on what’s in the news and responding to any queries. I’m also responsible for a member of staff, so my day will involve setting them tasks, answering queries from them, and providing feedback on their work.
What I'd do with the prize money
Help fund five places for disadvantaged students to give university a try on a Headstart course.
It can be hard to decide what to do after leaving school – there are so many options. They might not all be the right fit for everyone, but nobody should be excluded from giving any of them a go because of their background. Many students are put off university because they think it’s not for them, or they don’t know anybody who has been before. Headstart courses are a great opportunity to visit a university for a week, have fun meeting new people and developing a few engineering skills, and help strengthen your application if you decide it is the right route for you.
I attended a similar course when I was 16 and it was so much fun – I remain best friends with one of the guys I met there, and it ultimately led to me going to university in Bath when I perhaps wouldn’t have considered it before!
I know that the country is facing a massive shortage of engineers, as many are approaching retirement and not enough people are choosing a degree or apprenticeship in the industry. At this rate, we need around 75,000 more people a year to enter the profession – there’s a lot of roads, buildings, computer networks and new inventions that won’t happen otherwise.
By donating the prize money to Headstart, I can help fund five places for students to attend a Headstart course. It would be great to share the wonderful benefits of science and engineering courses and careers, and I’d love to see more students have the great opportunities I had.
Find out more at the EDT website, which says:
Headstart has been established for more than 16 years as a charitable trust providing hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities and engineering taster courses to encourage young people into technology-based careers. Taking place at some of the top universities in the country and run by inspirational leaders, our courses are perfect for finding out more about what exciting career opportunities a degree course might lead to.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Tall, beardy, punny
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No…I spent 10 years earning a good reputation so by the time I was in Sixth Form I could get away with being a bit cheeky. Although I did have to stay behind for chewing gum once (such a rebel!)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
David Bowie…probably. It varies!
What's your favourite food?
Bacon sandwich. Hands down.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Appeared on a few TV gameshows – though I’ve still not won any.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To visit space, to visit every continent on earth, to be happy.
Tell us a joke.
Why were the lion and the witch hiding in the wardrobe? Narnia business.