UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering Career Pathways: Top tips from Alumni

22 November 2021

On Wednesday 17 November, we had the privilege of meeting with six UCL Chemical Engineering alumni with a range of expert industry and academic sector knowledge.

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The following alumni joined the session to share their experiences with students: 

  • Giovanna Fiandaca (UCL PhD Chemical Engineering 2010) NLNG Process Engineering Lead - Asset Focal Point at Shell 
  • David Ayeni (UCL MEng Chemical Engineering 2007) Global Director, Business Development @ Digital Construction Works 
  • Fabian Byléhn (UCL MEng Chemical Engineering 2018) PhD Candidate in Molecular Engineering at University of Chicago 
  • Dina Ibrahim (UCL MSc Chemical Process Engineering 2014 & UCL Research Degree 2018) Junior Associate at McKinsey & Company
  • Jaymish Patel (UCL MSc Chemical Process Engineering 2016) MD of Biofuel Evolution | R&D at BioQuest Alliance 
  • Jessica Guzzetta-King (UCL MEng Chemical with Biochemical Engineering 2008) Consultant Safety Engineer at Genesis Energies

Catch up on the full interview on our YouTube

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Here are some of their top tips to help you advance your own personal and professional development.

Career Choices 

“It’s always good to begin with a why and how! Always have something to wow you, something you gravitate towards.” - Jaymish Patel 

“Stay hungry to learn....  Ask questions... be curious!” - David Ayeni 

Top Tips: 

  • Experimentation is important to build knowledge and skills 
  • Get involved in as many things as possible. 
  • Reflect on your experiences to date. 
  • Consider your skills and interests, where can those skills help you in unique ways to stand out. 
  • Never say no to new experiences. 

Building Connections and Developing Workplace Skills 

“Get a mentor.  It’s valuable to connect with role models that can advise you.” - David Ayeni 

“Skills gained during your degree are very relevant: resilience, sticking through projects when experiments aren’t going to plan; science communication, communicating your science to different levels of audience; teamwork experience, communicating between different people; leadership experience... there's a lot of these soft skills that really help you stand out!” - Fabian Byléhn 

Top tips: 

  • Pick up the phone. Reach out to friends, mentors, advisors and ask them to read your CV. Others can help you to display the best of yourself.  
  • Research projects are relevant to your future in terms of the skills you will also need in industry.  
  • Gain leadership experience during your studies, this can help you stand out. 
  • Good communication skills are key! You will often need to explain complex problems. 
  • Teamwork is very important– be conscious of how you come across.  

Career Development 

“Follow your passions but also have a plan B – sometimes you end up in a role that is unexpected but incredibly fruitful.” - Jessica Guzzetta-King 

Top tips: 

  • People don’t stay in one job; you will have career changes. Seek advice from your network. 
  • Changes in markets can cause unexpected difficulties, you may end up on a different path but your skills are transferable. 
  • Take life and jobs as they come and continue to develop throughout your career. 
  • Don’t chase the money, chase your passion! 

Applications and Interviews 

“Don’t decide if you are good enough for a job or not. Let the company make that decision. Put yourself out there and don’t pull yourself out of potential opportunities.” - Dina Ibrahim

"When job hunting, don’t let the situation discourage you – it will happen.” - Giovanna Fiandaca 

Top tips: 

  • Be resilient, don’t get disheartened by the application process. 
  • Don’t be too shy to put yourself out there. Be upfront, have self-confidence – we all have our own unique path.  
  • Don’t lie on your CV, they will ask! 
  • Practise, find questions online and utilise your networks to have mock interviews so you feel more comfortable.  
  • Recruiters are looking for someone who is a good fit for the company. They need good team members so utilise your personal skills as well.  
  • Don’t be nervous in interviews - you are an asset! 
  • Recruiters will look at the person you are and the role you can play in that industry. 

Getting Ahead in an Entrepreneurial Career  

“Embrace diversity and stand out – you can bring different personality traits and skills sets”. - Jaymish Patel 

Top tips: 

  • Make the most out of every contact and every interaction.  
  • Learn from your course how to communicate and solve problems – this is integral in the workplace.  
  • Embrace rejection and be persistent! It is part of an entrepreneurial career.