Young Achiever Winners 2020

Sponsored by Altrad

Representing the largest business sector in the North East of England, NEPIC has deep engagement with industry and training providers. However, NEPIC, along with award sponsor Altrad, seeks not only to promote the industry as a career choice for those leaving school and University but also to recognise the best and brightest young people already working within it.

Open to member company employees aged between 16 and 35, these awards recognise outstanding talent across the industry’s five sectors: Biotechnology; Base Chemicals; Pharmaceuticals; Fine & Speciality Chemicals and Support & Supply Chain.

Young Achiever 2020: Biotechnology
Daniel Wallis, Plant Supervisor, CPI 

This year’s Biotechnology young achiever has proved his determination to succeed by progressing from process technologist to plant supervisor with Wiltonbased CPI in just seven years.

However, Daniel’s journey to success has not been straightforward – making is story even more remarkable. After completing his qualifications in Plant and Process Operations, he was released from his apprenticeship due to not having a sponsor.

Not allowing this to deter him from achieving his objective of working in the chemical industry, Daniel worked tirelessly to secure an employer to support him through level 3 of his apprenticeship which he completed in 2012. Sadly, there wasn’t a position with his sponsor organisation and Daniel found himself
fighting to find a suitable role to prove his capabilities.

After a very competitive application process Daniel landed himself a full-time role at CPI as a Process Technologist, which quickly led to a series of promotions. Over the past seven years, Daniel has progressed from a junior role with no biotechnology or fermentation knowledge or experience to Plant
Supervisor where he’s making critical decisions and contributing to operational aspects of plant design hazard studies and commissioning activities.

Daniel is currently working on internal projects focusing on operational efficiencies, identifying ways in which tasks can be completed quicker, safer, more cost effective and actively looking for ways to reduce CPI’s carbon footprint.

Living and breathing CPI’s values, Daniel is constantly looking at areas to improve the company, his team and himself. This, coupled a real drive to succeed, has enabled him to exceed personal objectives and achieve the very best results for CPI customers.

Young Achiever 2020 : Commodity & Petrochemicals 
Adam Cullen, Senior Research Scientist, Lucite International 

Born in small mining town in South Africa, Adam completed an honour’s degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg gaining the James Moir medal for highest final marks on the course. A PhD in Lewis acid catalysed organic chemistry followed.
Adam’s career started in 2012 at SASOL, South Africa’s largest chemical company, where he was directly responsible for a catalyst breakthrough development. In late 2015, Adam moved to the UK and joined Lucite International in the Alpha methyl methacrylate heterogeneous catalyst development group.
Adam’s time at Lucite started in a lab-based catalyst development role. Here he quickly established a catalyst breakthrough that resulted in the generation of a property of matter patent and 2 selection patents on the catalyst formulation that have the potential to extend Lucite’s IP coverage on the Alpha process for a further 20 years.
This work propelled Adam into a technical project lead role where he has responsibility for delivering this next generation of Alpha catalyst technology. Each step of Adam’s career has presented unique challenges. The key for Adam has been to face them head on and learn – looking at each as an opportunity for self-improvement.

Young Achiever 2020: Pharmaceuticals
Heather Williams, Process Engineer, WSP

Our 2020 pharmaceutical sector young achiever, Heather Williams, gained an MSc in Advanced Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London before joining WSP four years ago as a process engineer.

During this time, Heather has developed as a process engineer working on many projects across a range of sectors, including as lead process engineer for several site master planning studies, responsible for the process modelling aspects for pharmaceutical clients.

Most recently, Heather worked on the Piramal “Chem 4 Project” to enable the manufacture of a new treatment for HIV patients who had exhausted other options. The project involved upgrading a primary pharmaceutical manufacturing plant and laboratory, however, following successful product trails, it became
vitally important to have the new manufacturing process up to full speed before limited clinical supplies ran out.

Heather is currently working towards chartered status; however, it is the time she has dedicated to ensuring the institute supports its early career professionals across the UK that is quite remarkable. After realising that early career chemical engineers had no voting rights until they became chartered, and no forum for
communicating with each other, Heather proposed and formed a new, national committee of early careermembers.

Until recently she chaired the 23-strong National Young Member Committee and sat on the IChemE’s UK Board as the Young Member Representative. Thanks to Heather, early career chemical engineers and students now have a voice on the IChemE’s international congress, a say in how the IChemE is run and the ability
to undertake its own projects.

Young Achiever 2020: Fine & Speciality
Sam Trotter, Operations Manager, Micropore Technologies Ltd


Sam graduated in July 2016 from The University of Sheffield with a master’s degree in chemical engineering. A referral from his project supervisor to Micropore Technologies resulted in him starting as a Technologist with Wilton-based Micropore Technologies in November 2016.

Soon after joining Sam found himself in a position of sole responsibility following the departure of the then Operations Manager. Many new graduates would have been completely overwhelmed at the prospect of leading the company’s development efforts, but Sam rose admirably to the challenge.

As part of Sam’s development he used his engineering skills, aided by Williams Process, to optimise the design of existing equipment, expanding the test criteria and discovering the true capabilities of the equipment. Sensing a greater opportunity to solve the long existing, historically intractable challenge of scaling membrane emulsification to a true manufacturing scale, Sam,
together with Williams Process, initiated the design and launch of Micropore’s AXF technology.

This breakthrough has since been recognised by the IChemE, RSC and NEPIC for its innovation.

Since 2017, Sam has been responsible for day-to-day operations; managing and fulfilling customer orders and trials and helping to grow the business. Since this time, Micropore has doubled their turnover year on year and expanded the team with 5 new members of staff.

In addition to his work with Micropore, Sam has organised and hosted multiple sessions with Children Challenging Industry, numerous work placements and an internship. Outside work, Sam volunteers with the local ISPE committee and is working to complete his Chartered Chemical Engineer status.

Young Achiever 2019: Support & Supply Chain
Liam Sharpe, Cyber Secruity Engineer, Tekgem 

This year’s supply chain young achiever, Liam Sharpe, joined Wilton-based SME Tekgem as an Apprentice Infrastructure Technician. That first year alone saw Liam based on site for client SABIC where he assisted in carrying out maintenance activities on 150 systems critical to the 24/7 operation of the manufacturing plant.

Due to his exceptional work ethic Liam passed his Level 3 course three months early gaining numerous Microsoft qualifications and achieving runner up position in the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year awards.

Liam went on to complete a Level 4 Network Engineer apprenticeship five months early with a distinction. Whilst studying, he was also working with clients delivering key cybersecurity improvement projects including a project to provide an industrial control system to an offshore oil and gas platform.

Liam’s phenomenal commitment to his studies saw him shortlisted for the Intequal Apprentice of the Year and Intequal Network Engineer of the Year, winning both at Intequal’s annual graduation ceremony in February 2019!

Naturally Liam was offered a permanent position with Tekgem and undertook the role of Infrastructure Engineer before being promoted to Cybersecurity Engineer where he continues to advance his skills.

Today, Liam carries out health check assessments and major cyber security improvement projects for some of the largest businesses in the UK and Europe including SABIC, Lucite, Nippon, INEOS, Wood Group, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Solvay & more.

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