Harith Jayakody

PhD Mechanical Engineer CDP at Air Products
PhD Mechanical Engineering, 2019


Please tell us a bit about your current role.  

I joined the CDP programme at Air Products as a PhD Mechanical Engineer. My first role was working as an R&D Engineer and then moved into the current role as a Project Engineer/ Project Manager. My PhD project was on cryogenics which helped me get into Air Products which also has a lot of expertise in the same field.

What motivated you to do your postgraduate research course?

I have always had a passion for research in engineering which was further boosted by the success in my final year project in my MEng degree which I also did at the University of Birmingham.

What do you enjoy most and what do you find challenging about your role?

As an R&D engineer I enjoyed the lab work as it is similar to doing a PhD in the development side. Challenges in this role are similar to that of a PhD where solutions aren’t always easy to find. Being a Project Manager, you get the opportunity to interact with engineers of all disciplines and other professionals to successfully carry a project forward.

Have you faced any barriers during your career journey,
if so, how did you overcome them?

As an international student, finding jobs with employers that provide visa sponsorships for international graduates was a challenge in the UK. To overcome this, you need to prepare thoroughly for each job application by writing well customised CVs, cover letters and preparing well for the interviews. Attending careers fairs and talking to employers can also help a great deal.

How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?

On top of the technical and theoretical experiences I gained during my PhD, I also gained many soft skills through attending conferences and participating in competitions held by the university.

Additionally, I attended many workshops held by Careers Network at the University of Birmingham in writing CVs, cover letters and handling job interviews, which helped me with my job application.

What advice would you give to students interested in further study?

My advice for anyone considering doing a PhD is to follow your passion and choose a project that you are really enthusiastic about. Also, choose a project that has future prospects in the industry if you think you may be planning to work in industry post-PhD.

What advice would you give to students interested in getting into your industry or role?

Overall, thoroughly tailor each job application: customise your CV, cover letters and prepare well for interviews. Also, attend careers fairs and talk to employers who work in your field of interest.


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