Stephen supports several businesses to become sustainable including using organic materials for wastewater treatment.
Mae’r proffil hon ar gael yn Gymraeg
Hi, I’m Stephen and I am a director of two companies: SIW Consultancy and Coalpit Welsh Cakes.
What does a director of SIW Consultancy and Coalpit Welsh Cakes do?
As director of SIW consultancy, I support several businesses in the use of chemicals and technologies in wastewater treatment. I go out to clients’ sites and help them make improvements. With the chemistry, as an example, I was fortunate enough to develop a system to convert soluble copper to an insoluble format, which is now the standard chemistry used in the distilling industry – particularly in Scotland – and I still support several distillery groups up there. For Coalpit Welsh Cakes, I help run an artisan Welsh cake bakery business with my disabled son.
How does your work affect the world around us?
I work closely with several clients on developing new systems/technologies to help reduce their carbon footprint. A lot of this is to look at reducing waste and see if the waste can be used on site. For example, if there is a calorific (energy) value and it can be used as boiler fuel. We are also trying more and more to use organic materials for wastewater treatment and work.
With Coalpit Welsh Cakes, we try to source all ingredients locally or support Welsh businesses. All our packaging and containers can be recycled.
Salary range: £50/hr + expenses.
Minimum qualifications: None. Common sense comes into it a lot. It’s more about a passion to learn and to keep learning.
What is your typical day like?
I spend time going out to clients’ sites and supporting them. I also use virtual systems to keep up to date with clients rather than travelling.
With Coalpit Welsh Cakes, I tend to do all the background bits like organising accounts, ordering materials and encouraging my son, Michael.
Why did you choose chemistry?
The company I worked for got taken over by Unilever and I didn’t have a degree; they paid for me to do the degree/master’s but it was in topics they wanted to investigate – which I found boring – so when I had the chance, I did more on environmental chemistry.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy meeting people and helping them to achieve their goals.
With Coalpit Welsh Cakes, I love seeing Michael succeed – he has been on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live, won a ‘Dathlu Dewrder’ Award and the business has been short-listed for the Food & Drinks Awards.
What skills do you need for your job?
I need to be self-motivated to go out, get business and maintain business. There is some problem solving to assist customers. Clear communication is important, especially as the majority of people who we deal with have little or no experience of wastewater.
How did you find your job?
I have worked for several companies and became fed up with working hard for others to benefit so I decided to go it alone, working with people I could trust.
How did your qualifications help you to get your job?
They didn’t, really – I was in the right place at the right time and, as mentioned previously, Unilever paid for me to do my degree.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in your field?
It’s tough. Initially, it doesn’t pay well and you will feel like a small cog in a big wheel but if you love it, stick at it and develop a network – for example, via the RSC – eventually you will be able to attain the goals you set.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to wind down and pass the business on to someone who is as passionate as I am about helping people.
Want to know more?
- Explore your study options, talk to a career adviser and look into gaining work experience.
- Find out more about self-employment.
Stephen Walker MRSC, director of SIW Consultancy and Coalpit Welsh Cakes.
Hear from more chemical scientists in Wales
Discover profiles of other chemical scientists working in Wales, ranging from pollution control and pharmaceuticals to product development and more.
Published September 2022