My reasons for transitioning between industry and academia have varied depending upon which stage of my career I was at. I now have a greater understanding of the interdisciplinary aspects of problem solving, particularly with respect to global challenges such as energy, the environment, air pollution. All round, I am more versatile
Dr Mark Richards has a track record of cutting across traditional academic boundaries to explore multidisciplinary research, education and outreach. Currently a Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Outreach within the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College London, he has also spent several years in industry across different sectors, including instrumentation, environmental science, ICT and Finance.
Upon graduating, Mark felt that his studying days were over and secured a job as a technical consultant for a global analytical instruments firm. Two years down the line, he found his career progression was too slow and decided to undertake a PhD to ultimately make him more marketable in the workplace.
After completing his PhD in Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College, a family bereavement meant Mark moved back to his hometown of Nottingham where demand for a newly qualified atmospheric physicist was low and he had to consider alternative careers. Recalling his move into finance, Mark explains: “Although finance and credit management seemed a long way from physics, I was surprised by the number of transferable skills I had acquired during my PhD that had a real impact. For example, verbal and written communication skills, report writing, analytical skills and logical thinking, presentation skills, teamwork, and of course numerical skills. All these skills are extremely valuable in industry.”
Mark then made the move back to academia and took a Post-Doctoral Research post managing a Technology Transfer programme at Imperial. He subsequently co-founded Duvas Technologies - an Imperial College spin-out company, specialising in wireless environmental sensor networks. Reflecting on his career, he says: “I moved back into academia because the specific project provided an opportunity to combine both my academic and industrial experiences.”
Explore a timeline of Mark's career