Hamish Hall

Year of graduation: 1992

Current employer: WSP

Current job title: Director (UK Head of Water Development)

Current location: Exeter

“Plymouth is a great place in which to study and live, there are great courses available, and there are excellent facilities on campus.”

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

Upon graduating, I moved straight into flood and coastal risk management with the consultancy firm Posford Duvivier (now Royal Haskoning), based initially in East Sussex. The diving qualifications gained at Plymouth were probably a big factor in getting a foot in the door. I spent 20 very exciting years with the company, starting new offices, moving back to the west country, travelling around the globe, walking vast lengths of rivers and coastlines, designing flood alleviation schemes, and helping clients deliver their much needed flood management projects.

In 2012 I was recruited by WSP to become their development head for flood and coastal risk management, based in Exeter. This has given me even more exciting projects across the UK and abroad, from protecting nuclear power stations to helping the Red Cross understand flooding.

I have recently taken up a role in the University’s Civil Engineering Industrial Committee and enjoy regular guest lecture spots.

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

I haven’t looked at my watch to see when the day is going to end for nearly 25 years. I love the jobs I’ve done: every day is different, challenging, and rewarding. Probably the greatest satisfaction I derive from the work is the scope to visit new places and really get an understanding of the physical and social processes that define how they function, and how they could function in the future.

What would you do differently since graduating?

I would have put a bit more effort into getting Chartered status earlier, bought a house a bit earlier, and kept a better personal record of the places and sights I’ve seen.

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

Seeing how much value our placement students get from their time with WSP, I would have taken an industrial placement for a year – this would have made me a more rounded engineer upon graduation.

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

The coastal and diving courses were a big reason for choosing Plymouth. The location was also a critical factor in my decision making – being close to the sea and Dartmoor. If I was going to do it all again, I think I would still choose Plymouth: the facilities, the reputation, and the quality of life is such a pull factor.

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

I was very lucky to have a strong idea of what career I wanted to have from my early days in secondary school (there was a New Civil Engineer magazine in the library). I had a very clear idea that I wanted to work in water management, and Plymouth gave me the qualifications to do this.  

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with the University?

Plymouth is a great place in which to study and live, there are great courses available, and there are excellent facilities on campus such as the laboratories, the 24/7 library, and the support services which will ensure that you have a well-rounded and instructive environment in which to learn.

Undergraduate civil engineering students conducting a hands-on activity in the Brunel heavy structures laboratory W14