Name: Sarah Curtis
Degree and university: Chemistry at Leeds University
Work title: Fuel Technologist at E.ON UK, one of the UK’s largest integrated power and gas companies.
What do you actually do? I’m involved in lab work on fuel quality and emission monitoring, as well as conducting combustion tests. I’ve been working on research and development in E.ON’s headquarters in Düsseldorf, as well as on an integration project and as a Chemist in the labs at a German power station.
How did you find out about this particular job? I know friends and family who work for the company so I had a unique insight into the way the company functions. I knew that they were treated well, encouraged to complete further training, travel and that they were, and still are, working in a very exciting industry that I wanted to be a part of.
What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? It offers a balance between developing both technical and business skills, which is quite unique in comparison to other graduate schemes available in Chemistry. I’ve had an opportunity to learn very specialist technical skills, but at the same time manage projects and even learn German.
I think it is fair to say that anyone who travels a lot will put himself or herself under additional pressure. As a result, I have become ridiculously organised. I have two of everything, two purses (for different currencies), two wash bags, two phones etc. You have to plan your time well in advance so that you know where you will be and can squeeze as many things into that time as possible. However, I find all of that exciting, it keeps me interested. So depending on who you are, it can be a positive thing. I’m on an eight-month secondment and should return to the UK after this period. But I’m not sure what awaits me next at E.ON. The company allows me to develop in many directions and try different bits of the business, so I might even get to work in Germany for longer.
What skills do you need in order to succeed? You have to be flexible and be able to adapt easily. We might think that because European countries have a common heritage, there won’t be many cultural differences. But in reality there are many tiny things that differ and that you have to adapt to. It’s also important to be organised and keep in touch with home.