Hannah Waldron (Energy Industrial Placement)
With high hopes and aspirations, Hannah Waldron is optimistic that the skills and experience she has gained during her student placement year at British Gypsum will prove valuable upon graduation.
We caught up with her to find out how she’s getting on.
Tell us about what you study and why you chose to do a year in industry.
I’m about to enter the final year of my Masters degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Nottingham. I chose this field of study because it is a broad subject and there are many different career routes that you can go down. I enjoyed physics, maths and chemistry at school, so this was a nice combination of them all.
I was always keen on the idea of being able to work in industry for a year before returning to university to finish my degree, as I think it will give me valuable real-world experience. I will go back to university with practical skills and knowledge that I can apply to my studies and beyond. I also hope that my experience will improve employment prospects after I graduate.
What does your role at British Gypsum entail?
I am on an Energy Industrial Placement here at British Gypsum. This means that I support the company’s Energy Champions, whose job is to monitor, report and reduce energy consumption across the business. My work is focused on implementing energy efficiency measures within the manufacturing sites. I am responsible for gathering all of the gas and electricity data from the plants and sending this information to the relevant departments. I also produce a company-wide energy report that covers gas and electricity values and levels of CO2 emissions – essentially it is a monthly process to monitor how much energy we are using. The information for this is sent to me from colleagues throughout the business, so it’s been fascinating to see how a big company like British Gypsum operates.
What’s it been like working at British Gypsum?
My placement is really interesting and it’s been a great opportunity for me to learn on the job. Everybody is really friendly and people are always willing to help whenever I ask – the company culture is very open. I think the skills and experience I’ve gained here will be a solid foundation for me as I continue with my education. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to each of British Gypsum’s sites across the country and support the Process Engineers with practical tasks and projects, which I’ve really enjoyed as it has allowed me to build relationships with other people in the company and get an insight into their career paths.
How has British Gypsum supported you during your placement year?
I have taken part in a lot of health and safety courses, energy management workshops and training programmes catered specifically to my position. There are always new courses available and I find that the company does really want to invest in you and help you achieve as much as you can.
One thing I am particularly proud of is that I have been tasked with delivering general energy awareness training to colleagues in central functions, so that we can fulfill our Energy Management Standard obligations. It’s been a great opportunity to take on such a big responsibility.
What advice would you give to a young woman looking to study a STEM subject?
I would say to just go for it. If you have a genuine interest in any of the subjects, there are many opportunities out there in terms of careers so you are bound to find something that you will enjoy. It will also help if you seek advice, get involved in activities that your school has to offer and speak to others who are already studying STEM subjects.
For example, I am now taking part in the STEM Ambassador programme at British Gypsum, where our role is to encourage and inspire young people to progress in studying STEM subjects. Recently I took part in a project to help build the confidence and employability of 10 work experience pupils from a local school. It was good to talk to the students about studying STEM subjects, as most of them hadn’t even thought about doing them before. I enjoyed telling them how it has benefitted me and hope that it’s offered a bit of inspiration about the many opportunities that are out there.