BSc (Hons) Chemistry
When Sian graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in BSc (Hons) Chemistry, her ambition was to become a forensic scientist.
However, after what she describes as a 'quirky' career path, she now heads up the property department at United Utilities, the North West's water and wastewater company.
This is Sian's story...
Placements can increase your chances of securing a graduate job
“My placement year at university kick-started my career.”
"I secured a lab assistant position at what was then called North West Water in the third year of my degree, as part of my year in industry.
"I was fully intending to be a forensic scientist upon graduating, but then the company asked me to come back because they trusted me and I knew I was onto something good."
Unconventional career paths can drive diversity
“My career path hasn’t been the conventional one of a scientist.”
"You probably wouldn’t associate a science degree with running a property department of a major water supplier, but that’s what I do now.
"My science training, and the way studying that degree made me think analytically, solve problems and work in teams, gave me loads of transferable skills that have stayed with me throughout my career progression.
"I’ve just been able to apply them in different settings."
"Placement years are so valuable."
"If I hadn’t secured that lab role when I was a student, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s so valuable to get 12 months of actual work, and build demonstrable skills that you can put on your CV.
"That year opened my eyes to what science and chemistry is applicable to; it’s everywhere, and having scientific training is invaluable in most types of job and field."
Changing paths can lead to success
"I believe the foundation of chemistry makes you valuable in any job market"
"Don’t worry if you don’t want to be a scientist when you leave uni with this degree. It gives you skills that are valued in almost any industry.
"I went into a lab role working in waste water, and realised pretty quickly that I had developed good technical skills.
"I then moved away from pure science and went into a technical role that involved planning, assessments, stakeholder management, and a whole new world of knowledge and skills I didn’t necessarily have. My science and tech background meant I understood what was broadly needed."
“I’ve taken a different path, but I’d never have got where I am today without it.”
"That led to a strategy role, where I won the CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) Student of the Year award, which raised my profile with senior managers within the company.
"They appreciated my technical training and academic grounding in science, so promoted me to my first management role.
"I am now Head of Property at United Utilities, which is a role that culminates everything I’ve learned in my career so far, from scientific and technical skills, to commercial acumen, customer and stakeholder management, leadership and strategy – the list is endless.
"I oversee the work of seven teams who collectively look after the company’s buildings and land interests across the North West."
I have a really good mix of skills at this point, this wouldn't be possible without my chemistry degree from the University of Bradford.
Inspiring women in STEM
"I'm a proud STEM ambassador."
"I want to inspire more young people with science qualifications to enter the water industry. I do a lot of mentoring within my company and through the Girls Network, and now I’m looking forward to mentoring University of Bradford students, too."
“Any degree you choose will give you transferable skills for roles you wouldn’t expect.”
"My advice to young people choosing a science degree is not to worry if you’re not 100% sure you want a career in the field. If you enjoy it and you’re good at it, all the training you will get on a degree course will help you in so many ways.
"With science degrees, you can apply the knowledge and skills you gain, anywhere and everywhere. They train your brain to do something quite different and innovative. They also give you the fundamentals of logical thinking, attention to detail and accuracy, and collaboration.
"What employer would turn their nose up at that?"