Eleanor Harland

Eleanor Harland

Name: Eleanor Harland

Job title: Applications Engineer

Company: Esso Petroleum Company Ltd

Country: UK
A-levels: Chemistry, Maths, Biology
University: University of Nottingham

I had always wanted to be a vet, but my A-level chemistry teacher had studied chemical engineering at university and thought it would suit me and my skills. It stuck in my mind so although I listed veterinary medicine as my first four university choices, I added chemical engineering for my final choice.

I attended an open day at university which I thoroughly loved, so when I got an offer for a place to study chemical engineering at the University of Nottingham, I ended up accepting it as my first choice.

A love of biology

I still had a love for biology and the classes I took in biochemical engineering at university really appealed to me so I thought I might want to go into the pharmaceutical industry. At the same time, I enjoyed engineering thermodynamics and separation processes which were things I hadn’t really encountered prior to university.

I always knew I wanted to do a years’ work placement so during my third year at university I applied for many placement schemes in all aspects of industry. I successfully secured a placement with ExxonMobil which I started in 2013, after which they offered me a graduate job following my final year at university.


I started my career at ExxonMobil in 2015 and currently work as an applications engineer (process control). A typical day involves troubleshooting process control issues, control application development and testing, and alarm management. I really enjoy solving problems - digging down to the root cause and trying to find a solution going forwards.

I don’t have any regular travel in my current role but I did manage to go to Houston, Texas for a training course!

Multiple career paths

If you have an inquisitive brain and a thirst for knowledge without fully knowing where you want to end up then chemical engineering can open many different doors to many different careers. Industrial placements are a great way to see if you like an industry or not and can lead to a graduate job (a weight off your shoulders during final year)!