Education and qualifications: BA (Hons) Business Studies, HNC Engineering
Which Institution are you a member of: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
Grade of membership: Fellow
Current job title: Associate Director, Regions
Employer: The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
Length in current job: I was appointed in January 2019
Please briefly describe your current role.
My role is Associate Director, Regions. I’m responsible for a newly-formed department that has the great job of recruiting, engaging and supporting our members. My team works closely with industry and academia to ensure that aspiring Chartered Chemical Engineers are aware of the routes to and benefits of becoming professionally registered. Coupled with that, we also work closely with our community of active member volunteers to support them in providing a comprehensive programme of events that benefit the professional development of chemical engineers.
What is the greatest challenge you face in your job and what do you enjoy most?
Professional Engineering Institutions like IChemE are fantastic places to work. I really enjoy the opportunity to support our members as they work towards professional registration. For me, one of the best emails I can receive, would simply say, “thank you, I’m now a Chartered Engineer.” I also gain huge pleasure from seeing our active member community plan and deliver a successful programme of events that demonstrates the variety and diversity of the industry. The greatest challenge will probably be finding enough time in the day to do all that we want to. There is so much opportunity and goodwill towards the Institution that the hardest challenge is sometimes saying “no”.
Please provide a brief outline of your career so far.
I started work with a small manufacturing company in 1987 shortly after leaving school and was lucky enough to become an apprentice. I spent 12 years of my career there, rising to the position of Technical Sales Manager.
I then worked in the metal finishing industry before joining IMechE in 2001 as a Business Development Manager, becoming Senior Business Development Manager in 2010.
I left the IMechE in 2012 to go into industry and spent several years in research and development, and then nuclear new build where I was responsible for technical and operational training. Following a short stint in educational leadership, I returned to engineering and the world of Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) with IChemE.
How was your apprenticeship experience?
My experience was incredibly positive. I left school with no real idea of what future lay ahead of me. My father encouraged me to undertake an apprenticeship and helped me to select the right employer. From the first day I was immersed in the fantastic world of manufacturing and engineering. I met and worked with some incredible people, all happy and willing to give their time for my development.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship as a way to begin a career in engineering?
Without question. You see and learn so much and do it all in the protected environment of a development framework. Earning and learning at the same time is an advantage and I experienced different placements across the business so that I could develop and broaden my skills and knowledge. It was also a way of building a network of contacts early on that have since influenced my career.
From your work with apprentices, what is your impression of how beneficial apprenticeships are?
They are fantastic and allow an apprentice to explore their full potential, to start building a career and gain skills that will last a lifetime. Anyone with a desire to learn and improve themselves would benefit from becoming an apprentice and if you make the most of your apprenticeship, industry will make the best of you. I stumbled into engineering by chance but, once there, I absolutely loved it and I would recommend it as a career to anyone.
What spurred you to work towards gaining professional registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech)?
I was surrounded by professional engineers and technicians throughout the working week and for me it was about achieving peer parity. I wanted to be recognised for what I had done and what I had achieved. Professional registration is a fantastic way of doing this.
How did you become registered as an EngTech?
I followed the standard application process; the most difficult bit was trying to remember all the things I had achieved over the years!
How has achieving EngTech benefitted your career?
The developing engineers and technicians, mentors and coaches that I’m working with know that I’ve been through a process that I’m asking them to undertake. I can show them that the journey to professional registration is worthwhile and highly beneficial.
What advice would you give someone considering professional registration as an EngTech?
Just do it! Set some time aside to explore the UK Standard of Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) and the process. You will find it an interesting and thought-provoking challenge.
What is your employer’s attitude? Were they supportive while you were working towards professional registration as an EngTech?
Absolutely, I complied and submitted my application whilst working at the IMechE. This was encouraged by colleagues and my line manager at the time as it was an important demonstration of my professional competence.
How does your employer benefit from you being professionally registered?
Registration is the recognition of my competence and capability, a guarantee that I am committed to undertaking a process of continual development that will help the company to grow and prosper. It also helps me to form professional working relationships with like minded professionals.
What are your future goals?
To develop my career and gain a broader and deeper understanding of chemical engineering and the development needs of the Institution’s member community.
Steven Gasser EngTech FIMechE