Alex Radford

BSc (Hons) Chemical Engineering, 1989

What path has your career taken since graduation? 

After starting as a Technical Contact Engineer, I have held many operations supervision and management roles in ExxonMobil as well as assignments in supply. I discovered that my interests lay in getting the best out of people to get the best out of operating facilities. This has led to an interest in understanding behaviours to drive better outcomes, for both individuals and the business. I am currently the Reliability Coordinator for both chemicals and refining at the Fawley site.

What does your work involve?

As Reliability Coordinator at Fawley Refinery, I spend time looking at how we run our operations to be able to advise all levels of supervision in the site as to the opportunities for improving performance. I help specific teams with the reliability challenges they face. I have helped develop the Site Reliability Plan, and multi-year programme which identifies standards and behaviours which we need to display in order to remain a world class competitive operation.

What experiences do you feel helped you get to your current position?

The technical grounding that I had at Edinburgh, the curiosity instilled, and the freedom to try different things have all helped me through my career. My current role is a culmination of many years working with operations teams in a variety of environments. When advising others it is important to reflect on past experiences, and help others learn quicker than you have learnt in the past. Time in operations has taught me that there a number of key standards that must be upheld, but that there is room for invention, and pragmatism as you use basic engineering skills to solve interesting and diverse problems

How have you used the skills and/or knowledge developed during your degree in your career?

Most people will highlight their final year design project, and research project. The opportunity to bring it all together as a team delivering a final product. The team working and communications skills whilst under pressure have served me well throughout my career.

What do you think was the most valuable aspect of your time at Edinburgh in preparation for your career?
Time and space to figure out what interested me, and what I really valued.

The Burn’s Night suppers and Grassmarket were fun too!

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?

While being smart and technically competent is important, engineers who cannot communicate well will always end up frustrated!

Alex Radford