Andrew Eccleston – BSc (Hons) Nautical Studies graduate and a PhD in Meteorology

Current employer: n/a

Current job title: Retired member of the University of Plymouth academic staff

Current location: Plymouth

"Do not feel that you are constrained to a career that matches the title of your degree. A lot of the skills you acquire at university are very portable and you should focus on a career that you enjoy and can be good at."

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

My first degree in Nautical Studies was linked to professional experience as a Merchant Navy navigating officer with a shipping company that sponsored me through my studies. I then spent some time at sea gaining valuable experience in a professional role and earning good wages. However, I decided that I was not going to spend the rest of my life at sea and started to look for new career opportunities.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Yes! I used my first degree as a stepping stone to a PhD – which then led me to work at the Met Office. After a few years I again left a secure, well-paid job to search for a new challenge and started a business to design and build meteorological data systems. This subsequently spawned a TV weather business which also grew steadily. Both companies were eventually acquired by a large US-based Corporation. Prior to returning to Plymouth to take up a teaching post in the department where I had once been a student, I worked on major IT projects in the automotive and telecoms sectors.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

In 1987, in between my first and second business startups, I was very seriously ill and could not work for several months. During this time I was lovingly supported by both my family and my professional colleagues. It’s at times like this that you find out whether you have invested enough in your relationships with other people to deserve such kindness.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Too many to choose from... circumnavigating the world several times, sitting at home watching live TV produced by software I designed, visiting Buckingham Palace (twice), winning big contracts, finding great employees who also become friends for life, and hearing from graduates I have taught who have found success in fulfilling careers.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Do not feel that you are constrained to a career that matches the title of your degree. A lot of the skills you acquire at university are very portable and you should focus on a career that you enjoy and can be good at, rather than just doing something that makes a lot of money. If you work hard enough, you may find that enjoyment and financial rewards converge!

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Apart from the acquisition of knowledge and skills in a specific area, I learned a lot about learning – which has made me a natural ‘lifelong learner’. Also, it happened that the majority of colleagues in my undergraduate cohort were ‘mature’ students and I learned a lot by hearing about their experiences and sharing in their knowledge. This can only happen in an environment that encourages and nurtures its students.

Although I was a student at Plymouth a long time ago (when it was a Polytechnic) it still feels to me like a place that’s full of vitality and opportunity. A lot of this comes from the academic staff – and having now been one myself I have been able to observe all the work that goes on behind-the-scenes to offer students a great learning experience. So I would definitely recommend the University of Plymouth as a good place to start your journey towards a successful career.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about navigation and maritime science please visit FdSc Navigation and Maritime Science and BSc (Hons) Navigation and Maritime Science, or for our range of navigation and maritime science courses within the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics please visit the school page.

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