Hannah Kirkham

Programme: BSc (Hons) Environmental Studies and MSc Pollution & Environmental Control

Graduation: 2005

Employment:  Senior Environmental Advisor at MWH UK Ltd

"I’ve always been curious about how the earth works, so I really enjoyed spending four years dedicated to learning about it."

My work

“I joined MWH in 2006 as a Graduate Environmental Scientist.  In 2007 I was seconded to United Utilities as a Project Coordinator working on a major pipeline scheme. Whilst on secondment I spent a year, in United Utilities Environment and Sustainability team, as an Environmental Planner for the AMP5 Capital Delivery programme.

“I returned to MWH in April 2011 to work on energy projects for National Grid and in March 2012 I started a secondment to Optimise, a joint venture with MWH, Murphy, Barhale and Clancy Docwra.

“Optimise are helping to deliver part of Thames Water’s AMP5 programme, which involves water and wastewater construction projects across Thames Valley and North London.  My role is to advise the design and construction teams of potential environmental impacts of the projects and to develop appropriate solutions.

“I enjoy being involved in work that really matters: everybody needs safe drinking water and sanitation.  It’s also encouraging that environmental protection is well understood and supported by the water industry. I enjoy being part of a global organisation like MWH, with the opportunities for travel and networking that it brings.  Last year I presented papers at two conferences in the USA and met colleagues from around the world.

My courses made a difference

“I most enjoyed the challenge of writing my MSc thesis; it was a great feeling of achievement when I completed it.  Other than that, I’ve always been curious about how the earth works, so I really enjoyed spending four years dedicated to learning about it.  Field trips were always great fun and great for learning and compared to some other degree programmes it was easy to get to know everyone on the course.

“For my day-to-day role I’m most reliant on skills like writing and analytical thinking.  In the past, I’ve used my lab and field work skills when carrying out groundwater sampling.

“But my understanding of environmental planning law, contaminant hydrogeology and the possible effects of pollution on different ecosystems are directly applicable to the work I do and it gives me a sound scientific base for decision-making.

“The BSc programme gives you the flexibility to study modules on a similar theme and become more of a specialist, or branch out and try lots of different things.  I found the variety of my studies was a big advantage when I started work, as I was able to adapt to different business needs.

“The MSc course went into more detail about a smaller range of topics, so your knowledge becomes really embedded.  I chose to do my thesis with lab work, which required commitment for the late night equipment cleaning sessions, but it felt like a great achievement to complete it successfully.  Having an MSc undoubtedly helped me to get a graduate job in a competitive market.

“Finally, if you choose to go to university, make the most of it!  You will be well supported, and there are so many activities and resources at your fingertips, so don’t be afraid to try everything!”

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