- PhD Biology/Biochemical Engineering
- Viridor Waste Management
My name is Andrew Goddard. I work for Viridor Waste Management Limited, which is a waste management company, and I did my PhD here on Activated Sludge Treatment. Prior to that I did a Biochemical Engineering Masters Degree.
Q1 – How did your time at the University shape and influence you?
A1 – Well I think the biggest thing with a PhD is, it’s about problem solving. It’s about methodically working through a technical issue, and obviously that comes in in any discipline; [for example] process engineering based industry, or any sort of biologically based industry. So that effort and that way of looking at problems is a very viable transferrable skill that applies to any scientific problem really. So, I think that’s the main thing it brought me.
Q2 – Why do a PhD at Birmingham?
A2 – I did the PhD for a couple of reasons, one it was an industrially sponsored PhD with Thames water, and I also wanted to do it because I was always interested in biology/industrial biological processes and this was the problem with farming and activated sludge, which I thought environmentally and socially was a very important problem.
Q3 – How has having a PhD helped your career?
A3 – Because I’d got a qualification above them, a lot of people didn’t like it, but I think once you get some experience, I think it becomes valuable, because people look at you differently. Because you’ve got that skill, it does shine out in the end and you know, people then value that thought process you bring to the business, whatever business it is. I’ve mainly been in waste management so, you know, I think I’m quite valuable now to the company because of all of that experience and I think having that mind set of pulling problems apart in that scientific way is a very powerful tool.
Q4 – What would you say to a student who is thinking of doing a PhD?
A4 – I think that what they should look at is a relevant industrial project, and also I think something that’s of interest to them academically as well. They must have a connection to the problem, not just to get a job, but they must have a mind set with the problem. It must be of intellectual stimulation as well as commercial benefit to them. I think if they put those two things together then whatever they do in the future, it will be useful to them.