Christopher Sim (Chemical Engineering 2010) worked for Shell for five years before deciding to change career paths completely. He now works in the food industry at WASO, a Japanese food start-up created by Christopher's friend. We caught up with Christopher, who explains his change of career and reminisces about his time at Imperial.

Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?

"Despite the tough workload, there were a number of very interesting projects and courses which were not only enjoyable at the time, but also helped me during my time with Shell."

What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?

"Two of the most important things I learnt during my time at Imperial were:
1. Stakeholder engagement 
Particularly in the latter years of my degree, the projects became more complex. So I needed to learn how to deal with a wider variety of stakeholders in order move work forward.
2. Organisational skills
An Imperial day can be extremely hectic, especially during the final year when I had to juggle final year projects and finding a job. This made me very disciplined in terms of efficiently using my time."

Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?

"It would be tough to give one particular name, but I am very grateful to have met so many interesting people from all over the world – not only are many of them good friends, but they could be useful connections in the future!"

 What is your fondest memory of your time here? 

"Burning the midnight oil for many days in a row to complete our final year design project! Haha. But I did very much enjoy the teamwork aspect of that project. Also, I had the chance to go on exchange to the University of Melbourne for one year, which was also extremely memorable."

What is your favourite place at Imperial and why?

"I would say Beit Hall, where I stayed during my first year of uni. I formed many close friendships during my time there, many of whom I still spend time with now."

Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.

"I recently joined my friend's Japanese food startup, WASO ( as a partner. One of our main objectives is to make authentic Japanese food accessible to everyday people, but also we want to spread a key message - we believe that people should live a life which involves following their deepest held beliefs and dreams. I've always been extremely passionate about food so I decided to move into this industry having previously worked for Shell for five and a half years."

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?

"During my time at Shell, of course my technical skills picked up during my Imperial days really helped, but no doubt the soft skills, especially stakeholder engagement ones, really helped me to do well within Shell. Those tough days during my final year of Chem Eng really made me a tougher, more resilient person, which I would say is critical in the startup and food world!"

What have been your career highlights and lowlights?

"I guess it would be tough to pick out particular ones during my time so far in the food world, but for me it would have to be my chance to work on product development (new dishes) and how to introduce them to our customers. For me, I love doing this kind of work! During my time at Shell I guess it would be my assignment where I was posted to Singapore to help operate one of Shell's most complicated chemical plants, which was a really eye opening experience."

What does a typical day look like for you now?

"My day starts off in the kitchen to help our staff with food preparation and packing. Then I go on to help manage our delivery operation, followed by customer service work. So the first half of the day is essentially work to sustain our daily operation. In the second half of the day, the fun stuff begins - we work on longer term stuff such as how to grow sales, retention of customers, menu development, branding - to name just a few!"

What are your plans for the future?

"I guess I would like to do my best to help WASO grow into an established brand. At some point I would also like to have my own restaurant, and I'd also love to go to culinary school."

What would be your advice for current students?

"My advice would be if you know what you are truly passionate about, try to have the courage to pursue it to the fullest extent possible. I know it can be tough with multiple external factors influencing your decision but ultimately it is your own life. And if you don't know what you are passionate about, that's ok, try to explore avenues in your free time which may develop your interests further, and whatever you do, give your all to your current job as you never know what opportunities might arise for you."

What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?

"The most difficult decision I guess would be giving up a stable, secure and interesting job at Shell to go into the startup and food world. I also had multiple personal issues going on at the time of my decision so that made it tougher. But ultimately my burning desire to be in the food world came out on top."

What are you most proud of in your life?

"Tough question. I would say that moving into the food world is something I am proud of, working for Shell in two foreign countries, and of course completing my Imperial degree. But for me I hope my proudest moments will come later in my life!"

Do you have a favourite quote or saying? 

"'When your passion and purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way' - Nishan Panwar."