Mark Parry

Year of graduation: 2002

Current employer: National Marine Aquarium

Current job title: Community Seagrass Initiative Project Manager

Current location: Plymouth

“The University of Plymouth opened up new opportunities for me; my studies gave me most of the skills I needed to succeed.”

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

Since graduating from my postgraduate degree I’ve worked as an Environmental Scientist for the oil and gas industry offshore and then for the National Marine Aquarium. I tried to involve myself with as many different field-sampling techniques as possible: coring, garb, and camera work for environmental baseline surveys and habitat assessments before construction work took place offshore; then funding bid writing and project management for the National Marine Aquarium.

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

My career has never felt like a career, it's felt like an extension of how I’ve wanted to spend my time. Growing up in Plymouth close to the beach, then having the opportunity to work with the water is constantly exciting and something I’m grateful for every day. My whole career has been around the ocean and the whole experience has been fun.

What would you do differently since graduating?

I would have taken diving more seriously and a lot sooner. While I’ve had a recreational diving qualification for many years and done a small amount of British diving, I now do a large amount of British diving. If I’d known I was going to dive so much with work in the future I would have assembled my dive kit sooner and planed some of the expeditions sooner. Being able to scientifically dive in hard conditions is a valuable skill for someone who wants to forge a career in temperate seas research.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

I’d tell myself don’t worry so much, you’re a quick learner and a good communicator: things will work out, maybe not overnight, but in the long run everything will be fine.  

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

Returning to study my masters was a significant benefit to my career. Whilst I worked in a rewarding role before, my return to my postgraduate degree was the key to opening some of the opportunities I was looking for. Many of the companies I worked for afterwards, a masters was a prerequisite for the job position. My further studies did also coincide with becoming older, with more experience, with a more calculated approach, but beyond doubt, the postgraduate degree at the University of Plymouth opened up significant doors and gave me considerable contacts. There was never any other option apart from Plymouth: it is where I grew up and still live. I’m fortunate the University of Plymouth is ranked world class for marine studies.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today?

Plymouth supported me by providing me with the skill set I needed to perform science at sea safely. The level of training and facilities enabled me to develop my career and myself.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

Returning to study a postgraduate degree completely changed my aspirations. I was involved in the development of surfing previously, because that is what I loved to do and because it gave me time to be in the environment I loved. My postgraduate degree changed my aspirations from wanting to be in the marine environment to want to learn about it and safeguard it within my work.

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

First day on the University boat. We were briefed on safety and given life jackets before jumping aboard. Once aboard, a fellow student, while inspecting his life jacket, announced to the group, “ What’s this red tag do?” while sharply pulling the cord downwards. He answered his own question as the vest inflated in a split second! The person also saw the funny side of the error or I wouldn’t dare tell the story. In short, we had a lot of fun whilst learning a lot.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

The University of Plymouth opened up new opportunities for me; my studies gave me most of the skills I needed to succeed, but I feel it is also important to be driven to develop skills yourself and open opportunities yourself. A degree from the University of Plymouth got me noticed, the success you achieve is up to the individual.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth?

I’d strongly recommend studying at Plymouth. Not only is the University a fantastic university, but I’ve been fortunate enough to travel many places with my work and I meet many alumni from Plymouth. Plymouth also has a lot to offer, great beaches and great moorlands, great surfing and great diving. I completed both of my degrees with the University of Plymouth and both have given me opportunities I’m grateful for.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about our range of marine science courses within the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni are currently doing, please visit the marine, earth, geography and environment interest area.

View of the sea and sands