About CSci

  • Steven John Stanley
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Steven John Stanley
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Scientist Type: 
North West
First Degree: 
Chemical Engineering
Intellectual Property Manager
Works For: 
National Nuclear Laboratory
Pet Hates: 
Paperwork and bureaucracy
Burning Ambition: 
To be a space tourist
X-Ray vision
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I always wanted to be an astronaut or a professional footballer
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
It was my A-level chemistry teacher who had a real knack of explaining things so you could visualise them
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Every day is different in my job. No two days are the same. I have lots of personal interaction with people – lots of time in meetings and speaking in person to people which I really like
What would you change? 
I’d reduce bureaucracy, rules, procedures, and paperwork, while at the same time admitting they’re probably necessary to some extent in the nuclear industry
What qualifications did you take at school? 
I did A’levels at a comprehensive college in Manchester
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
I studied for three degrees at the University of Manchester. I got my first degree in Chemical Engineering because I wanted to do a degree that was applied. There aren’t enough engineers in this country. I wanted to do something I was confident in but that you knew you could get a career in.
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I went on at Manchester to do a Masters of Engineering and Philosophy. Then I did a PhD in Chemical Engineering (but in between degrees I did seven months as a barman in Spain). While doing my PhD I went to China and Mexico
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
My job is to speak to people in my business (nuclear service provider and consultancy service) and find out what they know and what ideas they have. My job is to help those people to work through those ideas, to understand their value, and how to protect and ultimately exploit the value in those ideas. We solve problems for our customers. For example, Somerfield. Say they have a radioactive waste container and they come to us and say look, we want you to tell us what technologies we can use to see inside this drum. Or if an inventor comes up with an idea, I can help them figure out how to develop it, protect it, and come up with a product that can be entered into the market
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
My work is all cutting-edge because it’s about inventing stuff. By definition it’s cutting edge. I’ve invented a couple things which have been patented and used in the nuclear industry. I came up with an idea called Rad Ball which is a ball you put inside a radioactive environment and it tells you where all the radioactive material is coming from
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
My personal work is aimed at helping the country clean up after the second World War when organizations were developing nuclear power. They created waste material, legacy waste, and the government is spending a lot of money to clean it up. There’s an environmental driver to my work. I also deal with the provision of power and energy through nuclear new-build
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
A business trip to America, job interviews, and lots of interpersonal communication
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
After my PhD I was employed as a research fellow at a company. I then got promoted to senior research technologist, then to technology manger, and finally to Intellectual Property Manager. I also worked in oil and gas for a year while I was doing my first degree as well as in the pharmaceutical industry for several weeks
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Very!! I’ve just come out of a meeting with physicists, mathematicians, engineers, and marketing people. All those people speak different languages. The meeting was about a technology we’re developing and how to market it so people understand what it is
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
A graduate working for our company makes £28K plus bonus, and we also have a final salary pension scheme which lures students in. A PhD graduate can earn £32 plus bonus. My current pay is £50K plus bonus. If you go right to the top you could probably earn £200K/year
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
The nuclear sector is set for expansion. New nuclear-build is on the horizon. We plan to increase our numbers by 160 in the next three to four years. We’ve got 700 people at the moment, so we’re looking at a 25% increase. The nuclear industry is the only industry I can think of that promises a long term career. There’s going to be a lot of work out there, and we’ve seen a lot of graduates who are attracted to the work because they think it’s stable
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
It’s when we do some science or an experiment and the results come out completely unexpected. When that happens it can give you incredible insight into the way things are. We always learn more when the result is unexpected. When I was doing my PhD I got some unexpected results and it led me to a new way of interpreting information. We did some experiments and because of them we realized there was a fault in the equipment (a pharmaceutical reactor) which had to be adjusted…which ultimately improved the product (insulin)
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Two years ago I won the British Young Engineer of the year award at the House of Commons. Last year I won the ICHEME award for young engineer. Last year there was an ICHEME award for excellence and innovation in Health & Safety and I won it for my Rad Ball
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Yes, we get generous holidays. The moneys good, the hours are good, and I can afford to buy motorbikes. Boys and toys!
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They think I’m a mad scientist. They’ve learned not to ask
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Motorbikes, football, gym
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I tried to a be a chartered engineer but the type of work I did ticked boxes for the CSci requirements. My PhD was more scientifically focused than engineering. More letters after your name…it can’t be a negative impact, can it?
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Really good networking opportunities. Undergraduates don’t understand the value of networking. You can start to pay dividends. If we’re employing someone who is a CSci we can trust that standard of approval
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
Very important. Having a CPD plan is for you to see where you need to develop and for the people who are managing you to see where you need to develop. I’ve been learning about patents, for example. We’ve just been on a residential course for management development where they teach you how to negotiate, active listening, recognizing when you’ve a relationship and it’s not going well, what kind of questions to ask to turn it around etc. Another thing I’m doing is helping to raise money for charity to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds realize their full potential
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
The nuclear industry has long term career prospects. The demographic is favorable to young people. Lots of people are retiring so there is a vacuum opening up beneath them. I would advise young people to always take opportunities, network, stay focused, take a step once in awhile and look at the wider world, and be committed
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
I was mentored when I was getting my chartership. When you’re mentoring someone you learn about yourself. When graduates join us we’re very focused on getting them to get their chartership as part of their CPD
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Integrity and honesty 24 hours a day
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I would have learned a language…Spanish or French. French is important because it’s used a lot in the nuclear industry, and Spanish is where I go on holiday. I need to do some in car CD courses!
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
I’d like people to remember me as someone who inspired other people to do as well as they can
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