David White, MSc Marine Resource Development & Protection – Graduate Profile

David White
MSc in Marine Resource Development and Protection (MRDP) 2002-2003
Programme Management Specialist, Crisis and Continuity Management, BP


Time of workDavid studied the Masters in Marine Resource Development and Protection (MRDP) in 2002/2003. He came to Heriot-Watt with a degree in Geology from Southampton University and a year’s experience working in the marine pollution sector. We caught up with him to find out how his career was progressing.

What inspired you to do your course and study at Heriot-Watt?

My working background, coupled with my personal interests in the marine environment fuelled my desire to learn more. I decided to leave my job before it became a true career and therefore difficult to leave, to undertake the MSc to broaden my experience and knowledge, not to mention gaining the qualification with the hope it would aid future career development.

I chose Heriot-Watt specifically for a number of reasons ranging from its solid reputation in marine and engineering sciences, its Edinburgh location and its ties with Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos.

What was your time here like?

Put simply, it was thoroughly enjoyable! The course had a diverse range of fascinating modules and it was a great balance of lectures and personal study, with some fieldtrips. Living on the outskirts of Edinburgh added to the enjoyable experience of Heriot-Watt. It’s a great location; easy to both get into the city centre and get out into the Scottish countryside. Also, I was fortunate enough to conduct my dissertation in the Galapagos which was a wonderful and inspiring experience that I will never forget.

I stayed on the islands for 4 weeks and worked at the research centre. My work focused on the risk of oil spills, their potential environmental and socioeconomic impact, and what protection measures could be put in place. The work took me to a number of amazing and unique localities across the archipelago.

What have you done since graduating – what are the highlights?On a spill response

After graduating I was fortunate enough to get a job at Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) where I spent nearly 10 years. It was a great company to work for and constantly provided valuable developmental opportunities and experiences.

The work was also varied and exciting ranging from consultancy, training and hands-on practical deployments and responses, all coupled with extensive travel to far-flung destinations such as Sudan, Nigeria, Libya, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Singapore and many, many more.

I really consider that my MSc helped me get into OSRL and provided the foundation for an enjoyable and successful career. More recently I have joined BP where I work within the crisis management group. It is providing a fascinating insight into how a major global corporation operates, and it is certainly never a dull moment!

What does the future hold?

Never an easy question to answer! Working for a major oil company provides a wealth of opportunity to explore, and being fairly new to the company I am still learning. I do miss the travel of OSRL however that can be remedied with adventurous holidays when time allows!

What advice do you have for future graduates hoping to follow in your footsteps????????????????????????????????

Having spoken at student careers fairs in the past, I always advocate work experience. I feel it is critical to get ahead. Use your summers and gap year(s) effectively. Obviously leave room for fun, but also try to get some valuable personal develop and experience that will make you stand out and be attractive to a potential employer.

Also, if you know what career you want to pursue, select the relevant course modules where you can, and try to shape your course work and dissertation to follow that path. By doing so you may be lucky enough to make connections with individuals, groups and companies outside of University that could provide that lucky break.

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