Saltire 10th Birthday- Post 5 Craig Stephen

Not only did this placement allow me to discover my inherent talents and a unique culture half way across the globe, I found that as a Saltire Scholar I was entrusted with challenging projects that went far beyond the scope of my degree.

“Since the formation of the Saltire Foundation in 2007, our Saltire programmes have been on quite a journey. We have supported over 900 individuals that have taken part in our world-class leadership programmes, many of whom have heightened their ambitions and achieved things they never thought possible. Our mission has always been to find, fuel and spark the next generation of leaders for Scotland, and looking back over 10 years of success it is clear we have some of the most talented, determined and capable leaders within our alumni. Now part of Entrepreneurial Scotland, our alumni are part of a wider network influencing economic and social change for our country. To celebrate 10 years of Saltire, we will be shining a light on 10 inspirational alumni members, over the next 10 months showcasing their fantastic journeys since taking part in our Scholar or Fellow programme”

- Sandy Kennedy, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland

 

Post 5: Craig Stephen, UK Engineering Undergraduate of the Year 2017 and Saltire Scholar 2016:

Throughout my first two years at university I discovered one main side effect synonymous with tackling an engineering degree… the desire to apply my newfound knowledge in the real world! Ambitious to convert theoretical calculations to practical results, by the time I had reached my third year I was enthusiastic to pinpoint the positive impact I could have in industry.

Keeping an eye out for opportunities, it didn’t take long before the powers of social media introduced me to the fascinating Entrepreneurial Scotland network and the prestigious Saltire Scholars Programme. The competitive application process was tough but ultimately rewarding, serving as a learning curve that I continue to benefit from today.

I was fortunate to gain a first-class internship that surpassed anything I had previously envisaged. As an undergraduate Mechanical Engineer with a passion for medical science, The Saltire Scholars Programme afforded me the invaluable opportunity to intern with GraftWorx, a health-tech start-up located in the heart of Silicon Valley, California!

Not only did this placement allow me to discover my inherent talents and a unique culture half way across the globe, I found that as a Saltire Scholar I was entrusted with challenging projects that went far beyond the scope of my degree. Alongside expanding my knowledge of entrepreneurial ventures and swimming from Alcatraz to raise money for Saltire, I managed to make a good enough impression that my host company have even offered to sponsor my visa to return to work with them in the future.

On return to Scotland, fresh confidence in my own abilities encouraged me to pursue new and exciting challenges. During a demanding fourth year at university I tackled additional roles including President of Heriot-Watt Boxing Club, events volunteer for the sports union and brand ambassador for Saltire Scholar Programme. My heightened motivation led me to apply for desirable positions in industry leading companies and I was fortunate to secure several internship and graduate offers. The culmination of my efforts and good fortune was then realised during a visit to Canary Wharf, where I was honoured to be awarded with the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award 2017.  

With the awards sponsored by top graduate employers and organised annually by TARGETjobs UK, it was a humbling experience and a privilege to represent both Heriot-Watt University and Saltire. I am immensely grateful to be the first undergraduate to take this award home to Scotland and I believe it speaks volumes for how well respected the Saltire programmes are across the UK, as I was joined by several Scholar Alumni attending the multidisciplinary awards and flying the flag for Scottish undergraduate talent on the national stage.

After interning in the UK this summer and a further period of professional development with my host company in the States, I look forward to returning to give back to business in Scotland and fulfil my commitment to make a positive contribution to Scotland’s future.

If not for my Saltire experience I would not have such incredible career prospects! None of the above would have been possible and I would not have developed the drive and self-belief that will enable me to achieve success in my future career.