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Jo Collins

Project Development Engineer

"Throughout my career at Air Products, it has always been the people that have helped me enjoy my job the most – be it graduates, managers, colleagues or mentors."

Why Chemical Engineering and why Air Products

I chose chemical engineering as I always had a love for problem solving and wanted to study a science based degree that would keep my options open at the end (in case I found the degree just wasn’t for me) – as it turned out I loved it so after four years at Newcastle University (graduating with a Masters in 2009) I sought out graduate schemes in chemical engineering. Many companies came to the university to give presentations but as soon as I saw Air Products I knew it would be somewhere I would enjoy working – the variety of roles available globally, the levels of responsibility from early on, coupled with really good support from both graduates and managers alike really stood out. Seven years on these attributes still stand out.

Current role and responsibilities

My current role is as a Project Development Engineer (PDE). When the Business Area has identified an opportunity, be it in the UK or further afield such as Oman or Russia, PDE is the team who works with the functional engineers to define the scope of the project, develop cost estimates, liaise and co-ordinate between the Business and the Engineering teams and develop the proposal that will be sent to the customer. Much of the hard work lies in handling scope changes through the development of the proposal, working to tight time constraints and juggling many conflicting priorities particularly as we work on multiple proposals at any one time. The best parts are the travel involved in visiting the proposed sites (despite locations rarely being exotic!) and when we are successfully awarded a project at which point it gets handed over to the Project team to execute.

Key points in my career development

The graduate scheme as a whole was key to my career development. It allowed me to work in many different areas of the company ranging from Process Engineering to Process Safety Engineering to Project Engineering, which helped me work out what I most enjoy and where my skills lie. Being given responsibility early on and subsequently obtaining Chartered Engineer status allowed my confidence to grow, and the travel I experienced was a great way to learn new cultures and different ways of working. I have now rolled off the graduate scheme into a permanent role at Air Products and feel that the breadth of knowledge attained through the scheme has prepared me to start choosing the career path I want to pursue now in greater depth.

Best aspect of the job

I am not the first person to say that the best part of my job is the people. Throughout my career at Air Products, it has always been the people that have helped me enjoy my job the most – be it graduates, managers, colleagues or mentors. They are always willing to listen to concerns and share their knowledge (often built up over many years at Air Products), and are always really supportive. I think it is really important to get to know people outside the office to enhance working relations, so I really love our onsite gym, running club and other sports groups the company supports.

Goals or aims for the future:

For now I am really happy in the role I am in, and continue to learn something new every day. Alongside my everyday work I would like to become more involved in events that support youngsters moving into STEM subjects, and I’m particularly passionate about encouraging more women to give it a try to help combat the ever present gender gap in this area.

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