Having built a successful career in geology, Nicholas Holgate is now devoting himself to spreading the word about the subject among the rising generations.
Since April 2016, Nicholas (OE 1995–2002) has been volunteering as a STEM Ambassador, working with schools, colleges and employers to encourage young people to enjoy and pursue the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Four months later, he became a member of the Young Professionals Committee of PESGB – the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain – for which he co-ordinates the society’s Young Professionals Mentoring Scheme.
And during the 2016 Autumn Term, Nicholas returned to QE as one of 15 old boys who gave an overview of their careers at QE’s annual Careers Convention, which is for Year 11 boys and their parents.
His fascination for geology first took root while he was studying it as part of his Geography GCSE. “Whilst I was studying for my A-levels, I discussed this interest with a number of teachers, who helped me identify ways of exploring the discipline further outside of QE. I took it upon myself, with help from others, to go to local geological societies to explore more about the subject.”
He paid tribute to teacher Malcolm Russell (Head of Chemistry and Head of Science): “Without his guidance and support, I would not be where I am today, and I owe Dr Russell in particular a huge debt of gratitude for everything that he did.”
After leaving School, Nicholas went to Bristol University, where he took an MSci in Geology, graduating in 2006. He also served as secretary to the university’s Geological Society.
He then worked for a coal-mining company based in Australia for a year, before taking an internship with Statoil in Norway. In 2009, Nicholas returned to education to study for a PhD at Imperial College London, which he completed four years later.
Since April 2014, he has been with Shell and is currently working as a London-based Exploration Geoscientist with the energy giant’s Global New Ventures operation. His work for Shell involves conducting exploration through regional geological and geophysical studies to identify new petroleum-bearing territory and guide future investment.
He explained that it is partly because of the support he received from QE teachers and partly because of the efforts he had to make as a teenager to find out about geology beyond the School walls that he is now so keen to help young professionals and students discover more about the discipline and its attendant career options. “I try to highlight and publicise the subject when I can, just in case there is a budding geologist who is fascinated by the subject and wants to know how to get into it as a profession.”