Hender Blewett runs a successful consultancy Future Energy Engineering Ltd after a decade working on offshore and subsea engineering projects. He recalls his time at Imperial and how it shaped his career.

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

 The main things I learnt were how important it is to really apply yourself during lessons and in lectures. You came away learning a lot about yourself as well as the subject matter, you learn about how you learn as an individual and how to solve problems through perseverance.

 The lecturers were fantastic – it’s only after leaving Imperial that you realize just how good they were at bringing the subjects alive.

 Can you tell me about your studies at Imperial?

 The first year was quite good; the second year was quite bad. I thought I could get through without really applying myself so I had a bit of a shock as I realized that you have to really nail yourself to your seat in the library for ten hours a day on the lead up to exams to get through it. 

 What is your fondest memory of your time here?

 In the fourth year we built a racing car. At the end of the year we planned to enter it into a national engineering competition. So we did all our exam work and at the end of the day after everyone had gone away we carried on through the summer building this car.

 We negotiated quite hard to have the university engineering workshops kept open on Saturdays. However we were only allowed to use it on Saturday mornings – the staff would kick us out at lunchtime and say “See you on Monday”. Just after lunch we would manage to get back in through the window and carry on working there for the rest of the weekend. We did get the racing car finished on time and running the engine is a very fond memory.     

 What jobs have you done since graduation?Hender at work

 For ten years I worked in an engineering company involved in the offshore and renewable energy industries, as well as oil and gas.  It’s been offshore and subsea work mainly. Then I decided to set up on my own. I now run a small consultancy that I set up with two other people.

 Can you give me some details of the work involved in your current role?

 It’s mechanical design and engineering consultancy work, so that’s stress analysis, erosion, planning structural design for large projects. A current project we hope to win for BP is to design lots of equipment needed in Azerbaijan to install subsea pipelines into the Caspian Sea.

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

 It’s two fold really. I use an awful lot of the theory that I learnt on a daily basis. Also the confidence gained from going through the mechanical engineering course at Imperial means that I’m more prepared to tackle problems. It’s also been useful to be able to ring up my former lecturers and draw on their experiences.

 What have been your career highlights?

 Setting up on my own and going to Korea, China  - the opportunities to travel with the role have been really rewarding.

 What are your plans for the future?

 To try and grow the company from the two of us to a bigger size, ensuring that we stay busy whilst also enjoying what we do.

 What would be your advice for current students?

 Work out how you learn, because everyone learns in a different way, and never be afraid to ask a stupid question because you never learn anything unless you do. One of the things I did, because of student loans  meaning you come out with £40,000 worth of debt, is make sure I got my money’s worth. Go and knock on a lecturer’s door if you miss something and learn what it is you didn’t understand.

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

 To leave fixed employment and start up on my own with about £500 to put into it.

 What are you most proud of in your life?

 Being able to regain a work life balance – there’s always an infinite amount of work in front of you and it’s up to you to decide when you say “that’s enough now I’m going home”.