From science to finance, Dave Griffin (MChem Chemistry, 1999) explains how his time at Warwick opened his eyes to where a Chemistry degree could take him, and how today, he’s still using what he learned as a partner at Deloitte.
What’s your favourite memory of Warwick?
The friends I made. I still regularly see three of the housemates I lived with in my second year. We all lived together in my first year too in H Block, Rootes. Coincidentally, one friend holds a similar role to me at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), so it’s good to compare notes when we meet up.
How did studying Chemistry at Warwick benefit you personally and professionally?
My workload can be quite intensive at times. In studying Chemistry, I had a lot of contact hours, and that intensity prepared me for the world of work. The course at Warwick was very structured, logical and principles-based, and all those things are comparable to working in finance.
As I advanced through my degree, my eyes opened to how much good Chemistry can do for society, and this helped me realise the positive impact I could have on the world around me. I’ve carried that moral compass through to my current work, where I try to help businesses improve every day.
What would you say to your younger self?
I had some good grades in my GCSEs but probably didn’t achieve my full potential at that time, so I would say to take your education seriously and focus on those important moments around exams. I would also say not to worry about how studying a degree like Chemistry may narrow your options – it broadens them. I chose to study Chemistry because I enjoyed the subject at school and wasn’t put off by the fact that it might be challenging.
It’s also important to take as many opportunities as you can, especially related to your studies – develop yourself in step with your knowledge.
What do you wish you’d known at school age about your career pathway?
At 14 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I now realise how much more influence you can have over your career at that age than you believe. I probably worried too much about how the decisions I made then would have lasting effects on my future. It’s never too late to change your mind and pursue a different path.
How do you think a degree in Chemistry is transferable into careers like yours?
My view is that it’s important to not overly focus on the subject you’re studying but instead concentrate more on the transferable skills, competencies and capabilities that will be developed through studying that subject. For example, science degrees generally help to develop numeracy and teamworking skills, which are both important in working at a professional services firm like Deloitte.
Furthermore, the curriculum continues to evolve as new discoveries are made, particularly in areas that are important today – climate change is a good example of this, which is now relevant to every organisation.
What skills or attitudes do you think are essential to be successful in your line of work?
As an Audit & Assurance Partner at Deloitte, it’s important to have good communication, stakeholder management and teamworking skills. I also think the ability to challenge, question and have an inquisitive mind is extremely valuable. The businesses that I work with want me to challenge them and apply deep thought to their problems. My Chemistry degree certainly helped me to develop those skills.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
I wouldn’t attribute my development to one particular person. In joining a big firm, I was very quickly exposed to hundreds of leaders and other people in senior positions. That gave me the opportunity to adopt or avoid specific skills, values and characteristics from a wide range of people. The mindset of being open, willing to change and learning from others has influenced my career more than anything else and enabled me to be the type of leader I want to be.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy working with people just starting out in their careers. I get to help them find their feet and support their development journey. Equally, I’m fortunate to work with businesses and management teams at some of the largest businesses in the UK and across the world. I get lots of insight into how these companies work, what makes them successful and the sorts of challenges and ambitions they have. Being in the room and being able to influence the decisions being made within these organisations is both rewarding and exciting.
How do spend your time outside of work?
Other than spending time with my family, I have three main passions: watching live music, watching Chelsea Football Club and travelling. I particularly enjoy to traveling in North America and often spend my summer holidays there.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m really happy at Deloitte - there’s a huge amount of change afoot in our economy and society, which brings lots of opportunities for me within my current role. I continuously look for opportunities and each year ask myself the same question – ‘Do I think the next 12 months will be more challenging and enjoyable than the past 12 months?’ If the answer is no, then I know I need to make a change.
Interested to find out more about Chemistry at Warwick? Take a look at our department webpages.