Meet our 2016 Award Winners: Bios & Project Overviews

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January 20, 2016

Meet our 2016 Award Winners: Bios & Project Overviews


Asad Ali, SABIC UK Petrochemicals

Asad completed a four year Tees Valley Production Technician apprenticeship in October 2015 through training provider TTE and sponsor company SABIC UK Petrochemicals. Asad’s commitment to his chosen occupation, along with his determination to succeed, shone through in an outstanding qualification record. As well as gaining his NVQ Level 3 in Plant and Process Operations some ten months ahead of schedule, Asad also achieved the City & Guild level 2 and 3 qualifications, completed an NVQ level 2 on the TTE Batch Process Plant and scooped distinction grades following his studies at Redcar & Cleveland College for a BTEC level 3 subsidiary Diploma in Engineering. Following a two year theory period with TTE, Asad went on to join SABIC Petrochemicals UK and the ‘hands-on’ work began as he joined the team at the company’s aromatics operation at North Tees.  Six months later and a move to Wilton brought him to Ethylene Control – SABIC’s largest storage facility in the UK before transferring to SABIC’s Low Density Polyethylene Plant to learn the role of a compression operator. With his apprenticeship completed, Asad was selected to fulfil the role of Process Operator at Olefins Six. Alongside his ongoing on-site training, Asad continues to study for a HNC in Chemical Engineering and is looking to commence a degree in September 2016.

Patrick Shepherd, K Home International

Patrick’s enthusiasm and inquisitive mind enabled him to stand out from day one when he joined local engineering firm, K Home International, as a young apprentice. Four years on and with an apprenticeship under his belt that he completed ahead schedule, Patrick has become a valuable member of the firm’s mechanical engineering department. During his time at K Home International, Patrick sampled many disciplines before opting to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. His work also took him outside of the region during the construction of a new polymer processing plant in Lancashire. He spent 3 months in total working on the project, gaining vital site experience as well as time, travel and study management. His commitment to his academic development continues and he is currently studying towards a BEng Honours Degree in Mechanical. Furthermore, Patrick is a keen ambassador for industry and alongside his work and studies, commits time to support the STEMNet programme to enthuse and encourage children into STEM-based careers with the hope of inspiring the next generation of engineers.

Tiffany Connor, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnology

Tiffany is a first year Production Technologist apprentice working within the microbial manufacturing department of Billingham-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. Having completed her A-levels, Tiffany’s heart was set on the apprenticeship route despite her tutors promoting full time university. Working within the downstream production department she focuses on the separation and purifying of desired proteins. In addition, Tiffany eagerly volunteered for further work and become an equipment owner whilst in the meantime training to become an AIMS investigator. Passionate about science apprenticeships and its promotion, Tiffany has supported regional careers events delivering talks and presentation to young people. Her work in this area was recognised by WISE and she was shortlisted to the final three in the WISE Apprentice of the Year award. She currently attends Newcastle College on day release where she is studying a foundation degree in Biotechnology. Having achieved a 2:1 in her first year, Tiffany now has her sights set on a 1st in the second. Tiffany has been praised by her peers for making a significant impact, progressing beyond expectation and being a great role model for other local young people.

Elaine Falconer, Amec Foster Wheeler

Elaine’s story began back in 1996 when her Father took her to watch the demolition of a cooling tower in Motherwell. Fascinated by what she saw, her heart and mind was set on the building of giant structures as a career which led her to Strathclyde University where she studied Mechanical Engineering. Her working life began on Teesside as a graduate engineer with Corus at the then Redcar Steelworks before joining Darlington-based Amec Foster Wheeler. Now one of the companies Project Managers, Elaine recently managed a £6 million turnaround project where she was responsible for 150 tradespeople and contractors working around the clock to ensure a successful and safe delivery that was on budget – and importantly for her, on time, as she was 8 months pregnant. Never one to be constrained by what is perceived as the norm, Elaine also joined the Territorial Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and commissioned as an officer. In 2012, she volunteered for a tour in Afghanistan where, armed with a rifle and pistol, she oversaw civilian contractors on the outskirts of Kabul to construct a $13 million infrastructure project. In addition to her full time role, volunteering and now parenthood, Elaine has also gained chartership through the IMechE, completing an MSc in project management and is currently studying for an Executive MBA. Elaine has recently returned to work following the birth of her son, where she has been assigned to Tees Valley Unlimited as Project Manager for the North East Hydrogen Partnership.

Craig Hooper, CF Fertilisers UK

With industry close to his heart, Craig embarked on a degree in Chemical Engineering at Manchester where he gained a 1st class honours degree. During his time at university, Craig secured work placements with GrowHow (now CF Fertilisers UK) where he put the theory into practice and would later return to as a Graduate Chemical Engineer. Today, as CF Fertiliser’s Ammonia Technical Plant Manager, Craig is responsible for the operation of the UK’s largest ammonia production plant ensuring optimum production and efficiency, along with all engineering aspects of the plant. He is 28. Improving the understanding of both chemical engineering and the chemical industry has always been an important personal aim. To that end, Craig enrolled as a STEM ambassador, working with local schools in the Billingham area and also developed a close relationship with Teesside University that resulted in the hosting of plant visits and sponsorship of Chemical Engineering second year design projects. In 2015, Craig graduated from Teesside University’s Leadership Accelerator development programme and going forward hopes to develop further by taking on more responsibility in operations management.

Dr Sandra Roundtree, Biochemica UK

Originally from rural Northern Ireland, Sandra’s passion for chemistry was ignited at secondary school. She attended Queens University of Belfast where she obtained a BSc in Medicinal Chemistry and furthered her R&D skills with a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry. Sandra is currently Sales Manager at Billingham-based water treatment firm Biochemica. However, sales was not on her career agenda until Biochemica, and her desire to pursue innovation, sparked her curiosity. Working life began at Petronas before joining the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of cleaning and hygiene products, Zenith Hygiene Group where, straight from university, she managed two experienced teams. In 2012, Sandra joined Biochemica as Technical Sales Consultant having been astounded by the team’s spirit and focus. From her base in Northern Ireland, she secured multiple contracts across the regions – growing Biochemica’s presence, reputation and bottom line. Within little over twelve months, Sandra was promoted to Sales Manager and had relocated to the North East where a whirlwind of success has since ensued.

Dr Lynsey Watson, Aesica Pharmaceuticals

Lynsey’s lifelong interest and association with the chemical industry was sparked as a child having grown up on Teesside surrounded by industry and attending a school that embraced industry visits. It was this interaction that ultimately steered Lynsey towards studying for a Masters in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at Newcastle University. Upon her graduation in 2007, Lynsey joined NewChem Technologies as a research assistant, conducting custom research and development of small molecules and early phase API’s before returning to Newcastle University to undertake a PhD in Organic Chemistry. Having successfully completed her PhD in 2012, Lynsey began work with Aesica Pharmaceuticals as a Level 2 chemist and in 2014, progressed to the role of Level 1 chemist – a role that incorporated greater responsibility, customer interaction and guiding numerous products from proof to concept or technical transfer through scale-up and full scale-up manufacture. The experience she gained proved invaluable and led to a role as project manager for new product introduction in 2015 – making her the youngest person in the company’s history to hold this position.

Stephen Anderson, Absolute Antibody

Science wasn’t initially Stephen’s chosen career but after 7 years in IT, redundancy in 2009 forced him to rethink his future and enrolled at Teesside University as a mature student with the aim of moving into Biotechnology. A placement at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, coupled with the fast pace and varied nature of the work, cemented his interest and directed his dissertation towards the growing use of mammalian cells in biotechnology. During his final year, Stephen was awarded funding from the Society of Applied Microbiology to conduct research at the university and graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree. Stephen returned to Fujifilm for 18 months before joining the small but rapidly growing start-up company, Absolute Antibody, as a Junior Process Development Scientist. Primarily working with the sequencing of antibodies, Stephen’s current position combines his strongest academic interests with the high throughput in which he became accustomed to at Fujifilm. Stephen’s achievements in just 6 years are a true testament to his character, ability and determination.

Lingey House Primary School

Lingey House is one of three primary schools situated on a very large council estate in east Gateshead. The housing estate is classed as an area of deprivation, however, the school is fortunate to be sited on the periphery of a large park and within 20 meters of a pond. The pond is a valuable teaching resource and the school frequently visit to observe and learn about the wildlife that has made it its home. It was recently discovered that water voles – a protected species – are living there, however, so do many rats attracted by the bread which the public are feeding the waterfowl in the pond. As rats pose a danger to the protected water voles, the school’s ‘Green Team’ set to task to determine how they could stop the public from feeding bread to the waterfowl and in turn protect the water voles. The ‘Green Team’, a nurture group of fifteen children aged eight to eleven, decided that they needed to inform and educate the public. The team split into groups for secretaries, accountants and researchers and upon deciding that signage was the right approach, obtained quotes, worked out costings and researched and identified different waterfowl diets and carried out surveys. Using the prize fund to purchase resources and signage, Lingey House School and the Green Team plan to educate not only the children but parents, residents and visitors to Oliver Henderson Park about the wildlife and their diets and hopefully save the lives of the water voles.

Shasun Pharma Solutions, Cramlington

An annual cost of £1.8 million for waste and effluent management, coupled with an underutilised asset, promoted Cramlington-based Shasun to focus on process efficiency and the waste hierarchy. Shasun’s five year root to brand review included the reduction of environmental burden, active promotion of technology and product, beyond regulatory compliance and improving resource efficiency with third parties. The resultant impact has turned operating costs into positive cash flow, opened up a business opportunity and put sustainability at the heart of the site’s operations.

MSD, Cramlington

MSD has demonstrated a long-term commitment to manufacturing excellence. Sticking assiduously to its quality management journey, step-by-step, over more than 15 years to become a true six sigma organisation.  Implementing tools such as Quality Chain Mapping, KABAN and Quality by Design, the MSD manufacturing unit has just passed 40 years of operation and still winning opportunities to be the sole global producer of its owner’s latest block buster drugs. It is regarded in its Multinational Group as best in class for compliance, quality, reliability and cost competiveness. A truly sustainable operation.

Chemoxy International, Middlesbrough

Chemoxy is an SME that punches above its weight in advanced manufacturing in the North East. The Middlesbrough and Billingham-based contract manufacturing firm was formed just four years ago via a management buyout from Dow Chemicals and what has been achieved in this time is truly outstanding. Growth has been realised across the board. Chemoxy has expanded their manufacturing capability by over 30% and in 2014 constructed a major new plant in Billingham. More than 50 new jobs have been created, taking its total workforce from 78 to 141 highly skilled men and women. The company has also experience increased export sales and made its first patent application in the field of bio-derived raw materials. Continuous improvement and energy efficiency remain at the core, with gas consumption, waste and carbon emissions all significantly reduced. Chemoxy’s skills ethos and community engagement shines through too. The company embraces apprenticeships, with 10 apprentices currently on their books and a training programme that has been recognised and shortlisted for awards. Chemoxy continues to support industry project Children Challenging Industry and its employees have raised thousands for local charitable causes. Through community engagement the firm also provides financial and volunteer help to its neighbours in North Ormesby, which has seen the company donate all-weather coats to local schools for under privileged children and sponsor Christmas parties for elderly residents. Chemoxy International’s values, achievements and commitment to the local area and people put them at the top of their game.

Mr Kamal Nanavaty, President of Strategy at Reliance Industries India

NEPIC’s high profile, international networking aims to promote the region’s wide and diverse process industry, seeking to identify trade prospects for members along with investment opportunities for the region. This work would not be possible without help and intelligence from many organisations and individuals within NEPIC’s international network. This Award has been created to recognise those individuals or organisations that have gone the extra mile with their support and encouragement of NEPIC’s work. The recipient of our inaugural International Business Development Award is Mr Kamal Nanavaty, President of Strategy at Reliance Industries in India. Mr Nanavaty has supported NEPIC’s participation within the Indian Chemical Industry family.  He has provided invaluable insight to market opportunities with a range of sectors and provided direct logistical and other support to NEPIC’s members that have visited the country. Mr Nanavaty has been on the Board of Reliance since 2002. He has led both petrochemical and telecom businesses within the company and recently led the implementation of 4G networks across India. He holds a Chemical Engineering Degree from University of Utah, USA and worked with USI Chemical Company before returning to India to join Indian Petrochemicals Corp. In 1989 Mr Nanavaty moved to Reliance to set up the Polymers and Chemicals business. Mr Nanavaty has held numerous representational positions including President of the Chemical & Petrochemicals Manufacturers’ Association and Patron Member of the Indian Chemical Council. He was elected honorary fellow of India Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2001.

Martin Inskip, MSD, Cramlington

This year’s very worthy winner grew up in Birmingham surrounded by factories and as a schoolboy particularly liked to visit the chocolate ones. Indeed it was a three day visit to the Cadbury factory that would ultimately shape our winner’s career. But with his love for chemistry set him up for a career in pharmaceuticals rather than food. In 1975 he joined a new production facility in North East England and has been an integral part of that operation ever since. For 40 years he has been the engine behind making this facility into a globally competitive manufacturing unit. Today the site is recognised as one of the most completive and high quality pharmaceutical manufacturing units anywhere in the world, so much so that this facility and operations team are always under consideration for the manufacture of the latest blockbuster drugs. He has been a coach and mentor to his staff with many now in global roles, and spread around the world, to ply their expertise of manufacturing medicines for patients. His quest for quality and absolute knowledge of every aspect of the manufacturing process have been key to his success but second only to his leadership and personal qualities. His facility has won many awards and he has been a stalwart within its community, especially in the promotion of STEM careers and environmental management.

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