13th Juni 2012
University of Sunderland MSc graduate Leanne is a safe pair of hands
Keeping the environment and health and safety standards of the UK’s workforce in peak condition is now a full-time job for a Sunderland graduate.
It may have been almost eight months since Leanne Burke completed her Masters course, but she was never far from the minds of her lecturers when a job opportunity came knocking at the door of the University of Sunderland.
Wearside-based consultancy Cedrec was looking to employ a suitable graduate to help develop its core business, providing information and consultancy on the latest environmental and health and safety legislation to individuals and organisations across the UK. The company turned to the university once again after successfully employing a previous graduate.
And last month Leanne, who completed a BSc in Geography followed by an MSc in Environment, Health and Safety, began work as an Environment and Safety Consultant with Cedrec. The specialist role fulfils the 23-year-old’s professional ambitions, having worked in call centre for three months while holding out for her ideal job.
Leanne, from Hetton-le-Hole, Sunderland, said: “It’s going really well so far and the management are easing me into the work. The knowledge I gained during the Masters course prepared me well for this job as we were involved in a lot of site trips and my new role will involve visiting sites across the UK to carry out audits.
“I feel incredibly fortunate that I was put forward for this position with the help of the university.”
Dr Mary Argyraki, University Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management, was the expert Cedrec turned to for assistance, and who had recommended former students in the past, following a successful MSc placement scheme, she thought would be suitable for the job.
Dr Argyraki has developed good links with the company through her membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) North East steering group. She is also a member of Integra Training and Consulting, which delivers a range of courses and provides consultancy at the university.
She explained: “As well as my academic role at Sunderland, I also have a commercial role in delivering training and consultancy work on behalf of the university. We have good links with Cedrec, as with other local companies too, and they have used our students for placements in the past.
“When Cedrec contacted us with a position to fill, we sent a message to several students, however, Leanne was one of the graduates who immediately came to mind. She was always a dedicated and hard working student. She also impressed her employers during her eight-week placement at Arriva, which is part of the MSc course.”
She added: “This is a great step on the career ladder for Leanne and a great example of the University linking with businesses in the region. Our courses have a good reputation within industry and the placement facility we offer is invaluable for students. It’s also great for the companies who get a taste of the level our students are at, and return to us time after time.”
Cedrec Director Gareth Billinghurst said: “Leanne has settled into the job very well and we are pleased with her progress. It’s a quite complicated area that we work in and from what I have determined the knowledge Leanne has gained from her course has certainly put her in good stead for developing her professional role further within the company.
“It’s a consultancy type of role that will develop her skills over many years and help her build up a good knowledge base.
“This is the second person from the university’s Masters course that we’ve taken on in this kind of role, and also we regularly take on students on placements to help develop their understanding in this area. As a local company we’re keen to prevent a ‘brain drain’ from the region so it’s important to build those links with the University of Sunderland.”
Leanne’s Masters course was sponsored via a scholarship programme, funded through the former regional development agency One NorthEast, to boost the knowledge of the workforce in the region.
She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at university and I always found the lecturers to be incredibly supportive. I’d encouraged any young person to do the same. I can’t thank Mary enough for her support.
“The practical experience I gained while on the course was invaluable and the perfect preparation for the new job.”