Christopher won the 2013 Present around the World (PATW) competition with his presentation on the design, manufacture and testing of carabiners. Highlights of the experience included speaking directly to 300 engineering leaders.
Christopher grew up in rural Worcestershire, moving across the UK to pursue his passion for engineering with a degree at the University of Cambridge. During his summers he worked at DMM engineering in North Wales and after graduating in 2012 joined Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) graduate scheme, and is now working as a product development engineer.
Discovering what engineering could offer
Christopher comes from a family of doctors, teachers and farmers and although he was technically minded he never really understood what engineering meant as he was growing up.
“I grew up enjoying all the things a budding engineer does – solving problems, questioning how things work and thinking differently,” he explains. “I was always rebuilding my Land Rover or making contraptions, but despite spending most of my time inventing, I had no real appreciation for what engineers did!”
It was in 2006 when Christopher received an Arkwright scholarship that engineering started to come onto his radar. He began speaking to friends, visiting companies and contacting institutions, so he could find out what engineers really did. Following his gut instinct he chose the A levels he enjoyed the most and applied to the University of Cambridge.
Entering the PATW competition
Christopher first heard about the PATW competition when flicking through his emails and catching an advert for his local heat, which was run by the IET Coventry and Warwickshire Local Network.
“I like presenting and it sounded like an interesting idea, so I got in touch with them. I was told it was taking place in two days time, so I kind of scrambled together a presentation from my time spent at DMM Engineering, spent a couple of late nights turning it into something exciting to listen to and went along.
“I don’t really like to rehearse much beforehand; I like to talk freely and ad lib. I felt like it went well, but what I really enjoyed was getting to sit through lots of fascinating presentations by the other competitors,” he says.
Christopher danced down the street when he heard he’d won the local heat, and went on to win the UK Midlands area final in Coventry and the UK regional final in Glasgow before heading to the global final in London.
Highlights of the experience
He’s enjoyed the entire PATW journey; however highlights have included receiving feedback and improving his presentation skills.
“You rarely have the opportunity to receive feedback in your day-to-day work and I feel I’ve become a much clearer and more concise speaker,” he says. “I’ve slowed down my delivery, been a bit more objective and given purpose to what I’ve been doing. That’s all come from the feedback I’ve been given, which is why it’s so valuable.
“Communication is one of the most important things we do every day at work. There’s no point in being the cleverest if you can’t describe your great idea! It’s also been a great confidence booster; I’d feel comfortable standing up and presenting to a board or a director now.
An opportunity for self-promotion
Christopher also feels that it was a great opportunity to support his career by getting his name known across the engineering community.
“The competition is much bigger than I thought it was initially and I discovered [taking part] is a phenomenal credential to have. Where else do you get to have ten minutes to speak directly to 300 engineering leaders at the IET Achievement Awards Ceremony?
“It’s also great PR in terms of your presence at work, as my success was discussed at the Technology Excellence Awards at JLR,” he adds proudly.
Christopher’s clearly always had a passion for innovation and that’s where he feels he can add value and make a difference in his career. Looking forward his goal is to be involved in this kind of work at JLR, where he can define the future and understand customer needs.
Whatever happens he plans to continue taking every opportunity that comes his way, and hopes that this will be as fun and beneficial as the PATW experience has been.
“I don’t know where I’ll end up, but it’s an exciting time. I want to grab every opportunity that comes up and have fun along the way. My objective is to make people happy through what I do and create,” he concludes