After a career in engineering and project management award winning Graham White now sets up social enterprises and currently works as commercial manager for Autism Plus.

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

"I learnt about having an objective and achieving it. I also got used to working routines.

Throughout my time at Imperial I met a lot of interesting people and those relationships helped me to think about things in a different way and progress."

Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?

"I remember having some very creative tasks to engage with. I learnt about working on your own, in a team, problem solving - all those things that employers want. Rather than being able to solve a particular equation or know something about a material, those interpersonal skills are the sorts of abilities that matter more in later life."

What is your fondest memory of your time at Imperial?

"I met my wife there – she studied civil engineering at Imperial. I also have fond memories of the friends I made there."

Can you tell me about your career since graduation?

"I started off with a scholarship from The Royal Ordnance Factories (part of the Ministry of Defence), then I went on to Thames Water to work as an engineer in the IT department. After that I was a business analyst and project manager for British Airways, followed by some time with an IT consultancy. Consequently I shifted direction in my career and started up a furniture recycling charity in Hull. Then I set up a Forest school and am currently working as a commercial manager for Autism Plus. I’m also opening a community centre in Hull called Ings Plus.

I’ve spent ten years in the commercial sector and ten years in the third sector."

Can you tell me a little bit more about the work you do?

"I create small and mid size social enterprises (SMEs) for people on the autistic spectrum and other vulnerable adults. It’s not only creating places that people can work in, it’s also creating a social infrastructure in Hull."

How is what you learnt at Imperial helping you in your career?

"There are elements to do with confidence, self-knowledge. Imperial puts you in a place where you can make choices. You’ve also got a better idea of what you are good at with the associated assurance."

What have been your career highlights?

"There are a few: we won the best stand award at a social enterprise event; I’ve won a third sector business award. I also advised government ministers on a one-to-one basis on how their policies apply and are useful in terms of creating employment for people."

"A different sort of highlight is that people do things that I find impressive.  It’s something special to see someone middle aged who has never had employment coming to a place where they find a job that they can hold down for a number of years."

What got you into the third sector?

"Having children meant that we stopped following the normal career path and went in directions that gave us time around school hours. The chaplaincy at Imperial also helped sow the seed for what I’m doing now."

What are your plans for the future?

"I’ve just opened a business in Hull and will open another in six to eight months’ time. I intend to continue setting up businesses for the next five years or so."

What would be your advice for current students?

"Do as well as you can. At the same time try and get some balance and perspective on life. Discover what you like and what you’re good at."

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

"I’ve had to dismiss staff, which is always tough."

What are you most proud of in your life?

"The range of relationships I have, both friends and family."

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

"Seize the day comes to mind."