School of Engineering

David

David

Chemical and Process Engineering: 1987

  • CEO at Hughes Risk LLC
David - CEO at Hughes Risk LLC

Why did you choose to study your course at Newcastle University?

I wanted to study Chemical Engineering, but my 'A' level grades were insufficient to match my top university selections. After repeated calls and letters, I was invited to visit Newcastle and subsequently offered a place.

The course was ideally what I was looking for, with a great balance between theoretical and practical.

What did you like the most about your course? Did you do a placement in industry or project with industry? If so, how has this experience helped you in your career?

The detailed experiences of the academic staff within various industry sectors gave particular relevance to the topics covered. Certain professors were able to relate pertinent stories to give the students an insight for how abstract concepts were actually applicable in the chemical engineering world. This really focused my own learning and is a philosophy that I have carried throughout my career.

I was fortunate to be a sponsored student with British Nuclear Fuels during my university years. This gave me a paid job during vacations and ensured (once certain grade goals were achieved) a permanent position upon graduation.

How would you describe the city of Newcastle upon Tyne?

Back in the early 80s, Newcastle was developing alternative industries away from the dying coal and steel dependents. There was a lot of unemployment and times were far from luxurious for a proportion of the city.

I have always found the Geordies to be entrepreneurial and highly energetic - just look at the support for the Magpies (despite their record in the Premiership!).

During my time in the city, music, style, internal investment and an increase in cultural diversity were evident.

What do you think about the clubs and societies that you could join? If you were a member of one, what sort of activities did it involve?

There was a huge spectrum of clubs and societies at Newcastle. Unfortunately, I did not take full advantage. However, I was a member of Student Community Action Newcastle (SCAN). Weekly visits were organised to local schools specialising in education for the deaf, or mentally/ physically challenged kids.

Where did you live? Was it easy to find somewhere?

  • Year 1 - Castle Leazes
  • Year 2 - private housing in Fenham
  • Year 3 - Castle Leazes

Always easy to find somewhere.

Where do you work now and what does your role involve?

I run my own safety consultancy here in sunny California.

My role involves interacting with international high-value clients, winning project work through strategic marketing, sourcing specialists (if required), negotiating partnerships and/ or contracts, carrying out project work and, of course, managing all aspects of accountancy.

How do you feel your course or other activities you were involved in at Newcastle contributed to you achieving your career goals?

My graduating degree level was not what I had hoped, but I was fortunate to be offered a job opportunity based on my previous years experience. The course had given me the basic tools to be sufficiently versatile, that I was able to modify my initial career aspirations and start work in a different field (Quality Assurance in the Nuclear industry).

Within a couple of years, I was back in the Chemical Engineering consultancy world and soon discovered my true aptitude for safety.