From Aberdeen to Advancing Zero Carbon - Sarah WalkerSarah Walker

BSC (Hons) Geology & Petroleum Geology, 2003
From Aberdeen to Advancing Zero Carbon

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
My older sister attended Aberdeen University and loved it. I visited a few times before I'd even thought about what University I would go to. When I was making my decision, I took the opportunity to visit the  University Open Days and take a look at the departments. I remember speaking to a lecturer in the Geography department and thinking how down to earth and enthusiastic he was about the subject.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I originally signed up to do a Geography degree as it had been a subject I loved at school. However, in first year the Geology courses really captured my imagination and were fascinating so I soon made the switch. It is easy to be engaged when the lectures are like watching the Discovery Channel. The Geology department had small class sizes which meant that you knew everyone in your class. The lecturers and professors in the department were world renowned but had endless enthusiasm to share their knowledge and passion for the subject. There was a great family feel.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
I met four other girls in Halls of Residence in 1st year and we had a ball. We shared a flat together and would do the weekly shop, hone our cooking skills and eat together most nights. Our mantra was that a family that eats together stays together. And 20 years on I'm still very close friends with my 'Aberdeen Family'. What a great privilege to meet such amazing, funny, talented and unique individuals!

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I was in the Geological Society and the University Wind Band. I was fairly terrible at the clarinet so I used to sit at the back and cause mischief. I was also in the Trampoline Club which was great fun. The club would take a University minibus to other universities for competitions every two or three weekends and that was a cheap way of seeing around the country. Competitors would sleep on the floor at their hosts flat in groups of about 6.

Did you hold any student leadership roles, e.g. Class Rep, Club Treasurer, Social Convenor?
I was Captain and Vice-Captain of the Trampoline Club. This was good for the CV and gave you a bit of leadership experience and it meant you could go to the Annual Sports Ball which was a pretty epic event back in the day.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
There are hundreds of social and sports clubs to join so I would recommend going along to the Freshers Fayre and getting involved. There are so many opportunities to try different sports and activities. It's a great way to make friends with like-minded people.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Graduate Engineering Geologist at URS Corporation.

What did your first role involve?
Designing and carrying out site investigations in brownfield sites in Glasgow. Working with drillers on the sites we would gather geological information about sites soil, rock and groundwater so that we could help the engineers design new developments.

What is your current job title?
Business Finance Manager at SSE Energy Services.

What is your current role?
The area I work in is focused on providing energy efficiency measures to help achieve the company’s mission to drive progress to zero carbon living. I love graphs, numerical analysis and managing and working alongside great people. It is rewarding to be part of something so meaningful.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
After URS, I went to work for a road network operator as I wanted to get involved in landslides. I worked on the Rest and Be Thankful and helped install the first landslide barrier on the road there. I retrained as an accountant with Deloitte, joining their graduate programme in 2011.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Having a good degree from Aberdeen University is a door opener! Geology is not only a vocational subject, it has plenty of transferable skills.

One Top Tip

Get involved! There are so many varied opportunities available to you, both in your studies and in your social life. Just choose whatever you are most passionate about and dive right in!