Mar 2024

Spotlight on IEng: Chris Packwood

As part of our Scholarships, Grants and Awards scheme, every year we offer funding to a select few individuals to receive support with their studies to kickstart and further their careers in the industry.

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Since receiving his postgraduate grant from IGEM in 2021, Chris Packwood has gone from strength to strength in his career.

He joined the industry in 2015 with National Grid Gas Distribution as an Engineering Trainee in pressure control and storage.

During his time on the training programme, Chris was provided with a wide range of learning opportunities across pressure control, pipelines and projects.

Once his training was completed, he moved up to become a Project Supervisor, managing the East Midlands regulator and filter replacement programmes.

In 2020, Chris moved over to Cadent’s Capital Delivery Department to work as a Project Delivery Engineer, which meant a move to North London.

In this role, he managed several large-scale infrastructure projects in and around London, giving him a new perspective on working with gas.

Chris said: “This experience broadened my view of the industry and exposed me to the unique challenges of working in London.”

Recently, he moved into a Workshop and Calibration Laboratory Manager role with Cadent at the network’s Birmingham office. He now leads a team of 30 technicians, supervisors and engineers to deliver complex programmes of work throughout the Cadent network.

Alongside work, Chris has completed six years of part-time study, achieving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Derby and a master’s degree in engineering management at Brunel University.

He said that both IGEM and Cadent have supported him during his studies. Chris said: “Further education has developed my technical skills and leadership capabilities to enable me to excel in my roles and develop upcoming engineers.”

A pinpoint career moment for Chris was entering the IGEM YPPC in 2018 during which he made his way to the final with his presentation on ‘The impact of laser scanning on mechanical defects on high pressure pipelines’.

When Chris joined the industry in 2015, he immediately joined IGEM and hasn’t looked back since. The institution has provided him with some exceptional opportunities, he said, and from the very beginning Chris knew it was the institution of choice for him.

Shortly after joining in 2016, Bob Murray became his mentor and has been by Chris’s side through every point in his career.

Chris said: “Through Bob, I have received exceptional guidance, mentoring, and coaching. “I have been on a long journey through my professional accreditation, first securing my IEng status in 2022 and looking forward to my CEng interview later this year. Bob has supported me every step of the way.”

Bob’s guidance was invaluable to Chris as he ventured to apply for an IGEM scholarship. Maintaining his dedication to his studies, Chris took the leap to apply and has never regretted his decision.

Chris said: “Without the support from IGEM’s generous Scholarships, Grants, and Awards scheme, I wouldn’t have progressed as significantly as I have over the past six years.”

The postgraduate scholarship supported Chris throughout his degree studies, providing him with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to develop his technical competency. This support enabled him to make informed decisions under pressure.

His MSc further developed his technical skills to focus on management and leadership covering modules on finance, project management, logistics and supply chains and leading people.

Chris said that his education has provided him with a broad spectrum of skills: “The combination of both courses has provided me a well-rounded approach to the industry as a whole and has unlocked opportunities to become a leader within the industry.”

To future applicants of our Scholarships, Grants and Awards scheme, Chris encourages individuals to “just go for it; at times it can be tough, but it is well worth the hard work”.

Chris has continued his professional journey alongside his IGEM membership, through which he attends as many events as possible. He explains that these events provide him with awareness and knowledge of the wider industry and help him understand the part he has to play.

“You can use IGEM to develop a strong support network. It has also given me opportunities to further develop connections with peers and team members and to influence decision making.”

His next goal is to achieve Chartered Engineer status and he intends to work with his mentor Bob and IGEM to become a mentor for upcoming engineers through the EngTech and IEng grades.

He said: “I have been provided excellent support from IGEM throughout my career and I intend to give back the same and more.”

Chris’s Incorporated Engineer status, he says, gives credibility to the work he produces and provides him with recognition that he is an advocate for the industry and fully supports it.

Looking forward to the future of the industry, Chris knows there is still work to be done with net zero on the horizon. He intends to focus on “the here and now”, he says, by attracting, developing and retaining talented people and work alongside IGEM.

He encourages anyone to take up further studies utilising IGEM’s Scholarships, Grants and Awards scheme as he has reaped the benefits tenfold. He said: “It is extremely rewarding and the development you will receive goes far beyond the certificate you receive at the end.”