David Smith

Asset Management Specialist for Energy & Utilities (E&U) at IBM in New York


Tell us about your time at the University

I chose UWS for three reasons. Firstly, it was a manageable size: big enough to offer a broad university experience and meet interesting people, and not so big that I might get ‘lost’ in the system. Secondly, the degree was a ‘thin sandwich’ structure, allowing me to alternate work and study. (That helped enormously with finance, and also gaining competitive advantage in the form of experience by the time I would graduate.) Thirdly, UWS had some flagship employers who were known to routinely hire UWS graduates, and these were firms I was attracted to.

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

I graduated and went on to work as a project engineer with (what is now called) BAE Systems on Eurofighter and then Joint Strike Fighter. It was my time as an intern / placement student that got me that position (my grades were mediocre) so I’m proof that the design of the degree program worked!

I shifted into high-stakes software sales after less about 5 years and have really built my career there as a professional seller.

My degree from UWS has been invaluable; not only does the broad subject matter of the BEng help me grasp my clients’ business challenges, but the various placements taught me to fit into teams quickly, and communicate well, and I’ve built on that. Flexibility and communication skills are not what engineers are traditionally known for, but are essential in any industry now, and I think the UWS degree prepared me for that. Later, I went on to get a postgrad in business and an MBA. I have been fortunate enough to work for Infor Global Solutions ($3Bn software firm) and IBM (which needs no introduction).

If you could offer one piece of advice or top tip to current students what would it be?

Don’t be distracted by everything going on campus! I got involved in the Student’s Union, the Faculty Board, Clubs and Societies and had two part-time jobs – frankly, it’s a wonder I graduated at all! There has to be a balance, and no one is around to say when enough is enough.

What is that drives you on in your professional life?

I’m now a professional seller, so I’m very financially motivated – it’s my job and my nature. But I’m self-aware and I’m constantly driving to make improvements in my all aspects of my performance from deepening technical understanding to being a better orator. For example, I most recently completed online courses in law and programming to become more rounded.