Matthew Roberts

Mathematics and Geography

Having completed a first degree in maths and geography, Matthew went on to gain a PhD in fluvial hydrodynamic modelling. He was also the president of the Leeds University Ballroom and Latin Dancing Society. Matthew now works for Capita Symonds Ltd in the flood risk and water management team.

What is your current profession?

I am a Principal Hydraulic Modeller for Capita Symonds Ltd

Describe your role.

The Principal Hydraulic Modeller is responsible for maintaining quality standards of all hydraulic modelling studies being undertaken by the Group, promoting best practice, offering support and guidance and exploring new avenues of research and development.

Describe your career progression.

I started at Capita Symonds Ltd as a Senior Hydraulic Modeller straight from University and after 18 months I was promoted to Principal.

What did you do immediately after leaving University?

Once I had finished my PhD, I worked as a post-doctorate in the sedimentology Laboratory in the Earth Sciences Department for six months, whilst I decided which companies to apply to for a job. It’s important to assess a company’s core values and decide whether they parallel yours. Don’t just read the website, get in touch with people within the company who are willing to discuss their work experience. It took three months for me to decide, but I’m still at the same company three years later and very happy with my choice.

What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?

I participated in the Research Councils’ Graduate Schools Programme during my PhD. This course assesses your transferable skills and provides you with insight into your skill sets and how these relate to different roles in the workplace.

Co-curricular activities are often highly regarded by an employer, particularly if you have a strong academic background and want to work in the commercial sector, as they can illustrate your ability to communicate and work in a team.

What skills and attributes did you develop as part of your course?

My communication skills certainly developed during my PhD as I gained experience in the delivery of oral and written reports to academic and commercial audiences at national and international level and demonstrated in undergraduate lectures and tutorials. Academia focused my skills of deduction and logic. Ph.D. research requires constant, independent decision making that is both decisive and justifiable I also developed comprehensive knowledge of a range of word processing, database, graphics and data visualisation suites.

What skills and attributes did you develop from your co-curricular activities?

As President of Leeds University Dance Sport Society I governed a committee of ten, which required delegation and foresight into long-term goals for the society, such as improved funding, tuition and competition attire. I was also the Treasurer for a while involving the financial organisation of a society with a budget of several thousand pounds. A key objective as treasurer was identifying and achieving financial support through government agencies and public sponsorship and organising/funding a National Dance Competitions (NUDA) involving over 1000 participants.

hat advice would you have for students studying today?

Remember that studying is a privilege. When opportunities present themselves to you, take them. It’s better to say that you’ve done it and didn’t like it, than you’ve not done it at all.