Meet our SIP Ambassador of the Year Hugh Birkmyre. Hugh works as a Scientist at Victrex and has inspired many young people through his work as a SIP and STEM Ambassador. Hugh’s dedication to careers outreach is commendable and we got to know a bit more about his own career journey and his experience as a SIP Ambassador below.
- What is your role at Victrex and what was your education/ career journey to get where you are?
I work as a Scientist at Victrex. (Which all sounds a bit generic! ) I work on our pilot plant called the Polymer Innovation Centre.
- How did you first become interested in a career in the science industry and what was your career journey?
I enjoyed science in school and Chemistry was my best subject. I originally wanted to become a doctor however, I didn’t get the results I needed so I decided to do a degree in Forensic and Analytical Chemistry. After graduating, I found a job working in the labs at Victrex working on new products, new developments and all the things a manufacturing company needs lab support for.
- Why did you become a SIP Ambassador?
Jess Long who used to be the Corporate Social Responsibility lead at Victrex encouraged me to complete the SIP Ambassador training.
“I became a SIP ambassador because I was already a STEM ambassador and knew I wanted to access all the careers outreach resources I could.”
- What has been your greatest achievement as a SIP Ambassador?
The thing I’m proudest of my reach work is actually something slightly different. I mentor a student through a student program called Career Ready. It’s all about inspiring young people. I mentor a girl who wants to go on to do a degree in biomedical sciences. It’s been great to see her develop over the past year. Overall my greatest achievement is continuing to inspire young people, supporting them and getting them interested in STEM.
- Why do you think Careers Outreach is important for young people?
There are so many opportunities are there. But how are young people going to know about them? It’s all about opening their eyes to the options out there.
It is also important to promote science to young people because it is so often stereotyped. Not only are they not aware of the various industries and job roles but they are not always aware that science is all around us. For example plastic desks, paper, bins everything. We need science to make it all. It’s also important to break the stereotypes of industries such as plastics.
“On one occasion a student said ‘Oh you work for a plastics company? Does that mean you kill turtles then? I had to explain that we don’t make single use plastic bags that harm wildlife but Victrex make high end stuff for engineering applications. So it doesn’t poison turtles!
- Do you have any top tips for SIP Ambassadors?
Don’t be intimidated by other Ambassadors job titles. Ambassadors have a whole range of job titles from junior to senior and every job is just as valid. Also don’t be intimidated by the young people you are working with
“If you can persuade school children who are a difficult audience at times with a short attention span then you can easily persuade a board of senior individuals at work about a project you are working on.“