Alex Westlake - Leif Capital, Investor in Residence, London
I graduated from Durham University in 1992 with a BSc in Engineering, specialising in Electrical Engineering in my final year of study, and stayed on to complete a PhD in wind energy in 1996. The inspiring start that the Department of Engineering provided me with has led to a global career – first as an engineer with E.ON in Nottingham, achieving my chartered status in 2008, then as a project developer executing mergers and acquisitions for E.ON based in Beijing, then as an entrepreneur reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally and listing my company in London in 2006, and more recently as an investor in #cleantech and #precisiontech companies from as far afield as New Zealand to closer to home in Europe. Recently I re-visited Durham, 30 years after I first graduated, and I had the pleasure of meeting my old PhD supervisor (now retired) and the current faculty staff. It was a great opportunity to see how the Department of Engineering has developed over the years and to learn more about their plans for the future.
One excellent aspect of the engineering course at Durham, which I believe holds true today, is the fact that it is a general course with specialisations developing as you identify which area of engineering suits you best or which you are most interested in. This approach equipped me with the broad base of engineering understanding necessary to have a varied entrepreneurial career. Furthermore, the lecturers inspired me to make tackling climate change the mission in my career and this has driven me forward in good times and in bad.
I’d like to thank the whole faculty of the Department of Engineering, Durham University, for their teaching and guidance and I’d recommend Durham to anyone who wants a successful career in engineering.