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Dr David Amienyo

Details of PhD

Environment and Sustainable Technologies from The University of Manchester; Completed in 2012. 

Years spent as a postdoc

2 years at the University of Manchester. 

Current position

Senior Sustainability Consultant at Sphera Solutions. 

Job highlight

There are a number of highlights from each job I have had since the end of my postdoc. Notable highlights, however, include managing the sustainability programme for a new vehicle at Jaguar Land Rover and working with a number of cities to develop their carbon and air quality strategies in my role at Siemens. 

Case study conducted

January 2021. 

What’s your background? 

I am a senior sustainability consultant at Sphera Solutions. Prior to my current role, I worked in various sustainability-related jobs in the automotive industry a Jaguar Land Rover, and in smart and sustainable cities at Siemens plc. I was a postdoc for two years at The University of Manchester. 

Why did you move beyond academia? 

My decision to move from academia to industry was driven by a desire to see the impact of my work in the “real world.” My first role after my postdoc was at Jaguar Land Rover where I was able to apply some of the ideas from my work in academia to improve products in a sector that is an important part of the UK economy. 

Why did you choose the sector you’ve moved into? 

I chose a career in sustainability for a number of reasons, most notable because our understanding of sustainability is still evolving. Therefore, it offers a lot of diversity in the nature of projects and initiatives I am involved in. 

How did you adapt your CV when applying for roles beyond academia? 

For CVs, the focus should always be on demonstrating an understanding of the organisation’s challenges (in relation to your area of expertise), wider issues in the sector in which the organisation operates, and demonstrating how you can contribute to addressing those challenges. 

Can you describe a typical week in your job?  

A typical week in my current job (this is my 3rd job since my postdoc) involves a range of activities that include meeting with clients (in different sectors) to understand their sustainability challenges, working with them to develop solutions, as well as project management and delivery on a range of different projects. In other roles, my work also involved business development and public speaking engagements. 

What are your favourite parts of the job? 

The opportunity to work with a range of companies in different sectors and industries. Every project presents unique challenges. Favourite parts of the job (from different roles in industry) include the feeling of achievement at the launch of a product that I have been involved in developing, seeing the influence of my work on policy decisions that have an impact on society, and most important of all, sharing these achievements with a team. 

How did being a postdoc prepare you for your current job? 

Core skills, most notably the ability to define a problem, as well as the ability to research and formulate solutions, have been useful in all the jobs I have had post-academia. These skills have been applicable to automotive manufacturing, smart and sustainable cities, and in consulting where I work with a range of clients in different sectors. 

While hard and soft skills are important for making the transition from academia to industry, I have found that developing a mindset of growth and flexibility (commitment to continuous learning and the willingness to take on roles that may require moving beyond area of expertise) and innovation (which is not only about new ideas, but also new applications of existing ideas), are even more crucial. 

How would you describe yourself now?

I would describe myself as someone who is constantly seeking opportunities to make a positive impact on society through my work. I would have described myself the same way as when I was a postdoc, but other roles and organisations have given me a “bigger” platform. 

What advice would you give to a fellow postdoc if they are considering a career beyond academia? 

Say “yes” to opportunities. Embrace challenges and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone because that’s where growth happens. 

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