Why I volunteer with my local IChemE Members Group – Marking Volunteers Week 2019

To mark Volunteers Week 2019, we’re publishing a blog series profiling just some of our many volunteers across the world.

It’s thanks to the effort of all of our volunteers that we can fulfil our functions as a qualifying body and a learned society, sharing the chemical engineering expertise and learnings of our members.

Next in the blog series is Tom Lakey, who explains why he is passionate to volunteer as the Secretary for the Hull and Humber Members Group.

Name: Tom Lakey

Job Title: Research Chemical Engineer, BP Group Research

IChemE role: Secretary of the Hull and Humber Member Group

Bio: I have a Masters degree in Chemical with Environmental Engineering from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in biomass gasification at the University of Sheffield. After a stint in a rubber moulding company, I now work in BP’s research department in Hull, UK. This role involves new process development, technoeconomic analysis, scale up as well as technical support for other business areas.

What does your role as a volunteer involve?

I currently volunteer for the IChemE Hull and Humber Members Group as committee secretary. I drive energy and enthusiasm into meetings and encourage participation and ownership from young members, while arranging technical and outreach events in the local area.

Last year I coordinated the regional Annual Dinner with over 150 attendees from local companies. We also raised over £800 for Hull Children’s University (HCU), a charity which organises experiences for local children from disadvantaged backgrounds to broaden their horizons and aspirations.

Why do you think volunteering is important?

According to HCU, 1 in 3 children in Hull grow up in poverty and many have never been outside the estates they live on. This shocking statistic contrasts with my day job pushing the frontiers of science and engineering in a research centre down the road; a reminder that drives me to be a positive role model for those undertaking or wishing to undertake careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). I recently led a ‘teamwork and communication’ session in a STEM outreach day, supporting HCU’s work inspiring local young people to aim high.

Tom Lakey presenting to students during a STEM outreach day

How does your role as a volunteer support other aspects of your life, including your career and professional development?

Volunteering is another opportunity to further my passion for engineering and develop my leadership skills. I get to work alongside other amazing individuals who are similarly driven, which expands my personal and professional network across different industries and sectors.

Why do you choose to volunteer with IChemE?

Volunteering with IChemE is a great way to meet people with comparable skills often working in quite different fields. It reminds me of the breadth of the profession and the many places it can take you.

The Hull and Humber Members Group hosted a technical symposium on Ageing Plants

My role within IChemE develops my non-technical skills, while many of the events we organise are technical presentations, which are useful for my career as well. It is rewarding to bring people together at technical and social events and raises awareness of the range of people and skills that exist in the Humber region.


IChemE’s Members Groups are communities that support chemical engineers through various events and activities to share knowledge and promote the profession at a regional level.

Members Groups also coordinate local mentoring and support individuals in their continued professional development (CPD).

Find out more on your local Members Group and get involved in their activities by visiting www.icheme.org/membergroups

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