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Will Reis

What are you doing now?

I am the Global Sales Manager for a specialist engineering firm designing and manufacturing equipment for detecting and recording earthquakes.

What route did you take to this point?

After leaving DHSB, I studied for a BA in Natural Sciences and MSci in Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. I was lucky enough to carry out a lot of fieldwork across the world as part of my degree and wanted to pursue a career that had real-world applications following on from my studies. After joining the company in a junior role, I was soon travelling regularly to Asia, then the Americas and now globally to help supply instruments to governments, academics and industry.

Any significant crossroads?

At the end of third year, I was diagnosed with epilepsy and ended up being hospitalised two weeks before my final exams. I didn’t actually gain a class for my BA and the medication left me struggling to do primary-school level maths. Fortunately, the university was supportive and let me continue into the forth year to complete the MSci.

Significant decisions you had to make?

Choosing between taking up the offer of a job or the offer of a PhD post either in Cambridge or New Zealand. I ended up taking the job as I hadn’t found the right thing for me to commit another four years of study to just yet.

What is good about what your career offers you?

I regularly travel all over the world, often to places that are off the beaten track (which tend to be where the earthquakes are…). The challenges of doing business in entirely different cultures can be frustrating but when life-saving technology is deployed as a result of it then it pays off.

How important are the oracy skills of speaking and listening in your career?

Everyday, I speak with people on six continents (sometimes even seven if we’re dealing with stations in the Antarctic) and the vast majority of people speak English as their second language.

Therefore, thinking about the structure of your sentence and how to remove complex words which we think of as normal is absolutely critical.

Listening to their responses is equally important, but interpreting them is even more so. In many cultures responding with “yes” is thought to be more polite than saying they do not understand.

Additionally, English is taught very differently across different parts of the world so I need to flick back and forth between Indian English, Chinese English, Russian English and sometimes even American English to pick out parts of sentences that may have been intended as one thing but actually come out as something completely different without the speaker realising. Noticing that potential mistake early on can save months of time and huge amounts of money and means relationships are much stronger even across pretty high language barriers.

Any fond memories of school you can share?

I spent a lot of time doing 'outdoorsy' stuff. A lasting memory will be carrying a teammate into the sixth form centre for a week after the 55 mile Ten Tors route because his blisters were so bad!

Most challenging year whilst at DHSB?

Probably Year 7. I was the only boy from my primary school in Saltash to go to DHSB and although I knew a few people I didn’t do any of the team sports that a lot of other guys knew each other through.

Advice for students with us now?

Do your exams. But do other stuff too. Other stuff is way more fun. Particularly when you get to the 'crunch years' of Year 11 or Year 13. Telling yourself that spending hours and hours revising is the most important thing you can be doing when it comes up to exams is rubbish - being relaxed and rested is far more important.

Words of wisdom for our students now?

Never, ever, be afraid to say “I don’t understand”.

Any messages for teachers?

Mr Newton - it’s your turn to buy the cake from Brimbles.

Miss Walker - it was my bag that hit the projector.

Mr Bowden - the most respected man anyone from DHSB could think of.


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