Ian Phillipps

Director, General Manager at Photon Energy Group

Portrait image of Ian Phillipps
You graduated with a Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering (Hons) at UNSW, what initially sparked your interest in Chemical Engineering?

Growing up in a small coal mining town, employment options were limited. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship in Chemical Engineering at UNSW and move to Sydney to begin my study. I saw the degree as one that would give me some very broad future opportunities and was also aligned with my interest in science and mathematics.

Can you share any specific projects or research during your time at UNSW that were particularly meaningful in shaping your career path?

I particularly enjoyed the later years of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, and enjoyed the design project, together with my thesis. The teamwork element was a great dimension that I had not experienced before, and potentially led me towards my ultimate career path in leadership.

Can you tell us about your current role and what career opportunities you believe exist for graduates?

I am currently a General Manager and Director of a renewable energy, water and remediation company that is listed on European exchanges and operates locally in Australia and New Zealand. Previously I held roles in Asia, leading operations for a US global multinational company and running a Joint Venture in Japan.

What did you learn about yourself during your time studying at UNSW, including the impact UNSW’s social culture may have had on your professional career?  

My time at UNSW was very seriously a life highlight. The friendships, study experiences, and opportunity to be on a vibrant campus having comes from a small country town, was truly wonderful.

Do you have any overall advice for current students or recent graduates?

My advice is to embrace your experience, find a great culture to work in, and don’t forget that you own your career path. Whether you focus on a technical, leadership, or non-engineering career path, know that a chemical engineering degree can lead you through a career that you might never have imagined. Mine certainly did.

Alumni & industry

Alumni & industry home

We wouldn’t be a world-leading school if it wasn’t for the skill and determination of our staff and students, past and present.

Professional societies

At the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering we cover a wide range of study areas and are associated with many different professional societies.

Industry partners

The UNSW School of Chemical Engineering was set up with the industry in mind. Since we opened our doors over 60 years ago, we've had strong, close links with industry.