Leanne Hart, 26, is a process engineer at Amec. She completed a chemical engineering degree at Loughborough University in 2003.
What do you do in your job?
I am a process engineer for Amec and at the moment I am designing gas plants. Currently there is a shortage of gas in the UK and there may be in the future, so there is a lot of work going on to secure the gas supply. One of the ways of doing that is to build underground gas storage plants and that is where I come in. I get involved from the conceptual stage, through to the detailed design and then on to commissioning the plant. I have a good split between being in the office and out on site and I get to meet a lot of clients.
What do you like about your job?
Amec is a contracting company so my role is not the same as it would be if I was working at one plant all of the time. I enjoy working on contracts as I am able to work on a lot of different projects and meet lots of new people. Working in this way means that I am not specialised in anything so my position stays varied and interesting. I also like the fact that I am out and about often visiting plants.
What do you dislike about your job?
The flip side of going on lots of business trips is that sometimes the travelling can be quite tiring and being away from home a lot is not much fun. Also, because I am doing a lot of repeat work I can find myself doing the same design over and over again. However, every time I do a design there is always something different about it as different clients have a diverse set of requirements and expectations.
What are the biggest challenges?
Coming out of university you get thrown in at the deep end with a lot of responsibility given to you straight away. You have to make sure you land on your feet. Being able to adapt to clients’ expectations can also be quite challenging. Designs are continuously changing, so you have to be good at change management and not let it affect you too much. I’ve learnt to look as it as a step forward than a step back.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Look at all of the options open to you because with a chemical engineering degree you can go into all sorts of jobs. Think about what you are most interested in, for example I enjoyed my design project at university, which made me think I wanted to go into design. Once you have made a decision remember that it’s not final because there are always opportunities to move on and try different career pathways. Being on a graduate trainee scheme allows me to try lots of different disciplines including areas like business development, which is a good idea. I’m not sure that I want to be an engineer for the rest of my life, so developing other skills is really important.