Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and the Pipeline Industry Guild Paper Competition

You may be reading this because you have heard about the Pipeline Industry Guild paper competition. You might be thinking of entering but are unsure what it will involve, what it will be like or if you will be good enough. I certainly was thinking the same things last year when I was emailed a link to the leaflet for the Pipeline Industry Guild Eastern Branch Young Professionals Network Paper Competition 2016. At first, I wasn't too sure about it because I thought I had to write a paper, similar to ones in journals and I had only just started my PhD. I definitely didn't feel prepared to write a full academic paper on my work. But curiosity got the better of me and I opened the link- I am very glad I did! It was actually a presentation competition, with a 250 word synopses to enter. I decided to give it a go but I really didn't set my hopes high. A prize of £500!? Surely other entrants would be far out of my league. Also, I hadn't heard of the Pipeline Industry Guild before so I was worried that might be a barrier too. Imagine my surprise when I won first prize!

I didn't know what to do my presentation on but one of the things that I had been meaning to write a report on was biofilm growth in distribution systems. I just needed to learn more about this for the progression of my PhD but I thought if I wrote my synopses on it, it would encourage me to start this research. I was incredibly surprised when it was accepted to present at the competition and had to start my research straight away.

On the day of the presentation, I felt OK. The competition was being held where I work so I didn't have to go out of my way or do any travelling. It just felt like a normal day of work. But when 4:45pm came around, I was sat in reception with the other presenters feeling a little nervous. It was great to meet them though and discuss our work and what we would be talking about. There was a buffet dinner and more opportunities to network. I was surprised by the number of people from Anglian Water who I had never met before.

When the presentations began, I grew much more nervous. I was having computer problems because I did my presentation using Prezi, thinking it would look dynamic and different to PowerPoint, and downloaded it to my laptop. But I did not bring a HDMI adapter so my laptop couldn't play it on the projector. I was trying my best to re-download it onto a USB stick, which is quite a normal task but is very difficult when you are nervous! The others had really good presentations, adding to my nerves. But I told myself that at the end of the day, all I was doing was sharing the research I had done. It wasn't about winning or losing. I tried my best and delivered my presentation. Overall, I really enjoyed the event and intend to go again to listen to the presentations in future. It was a great chance to hear what people are working on and give young people an opportunity to give a formal presentation.

On 27/01/17 I was invited to attend the Annual Dinner of the Eastern Branch of the Pipeline Industry Guild, for free. This in itself was worth delivering the presentation. It was a very fancy meal definitely worth attending. Unfortunately, you were not able to bring a guest but this just helped the presenters chat with each other. It was not the kind of event that I would normally attend (or afford to attend!) so I really appreciated the invite. At the end of the meal, it came to announcing the prizes. When they said my name, my first thought was "who, me?". I could feel my face growing bright red as I shuffled across the room. I honestly could not believe that I had been lucky enough to win first prize!  

I enjoyed my experiences with the Pipeline Industry Guild so much
that I decided to be a member. I was surprised to find it is free for people under the age of 25. Since the events, I have attended numerous events with PIG and even had the opportunity to give another presentation at one of their events, The Pipeline Showcase on 16/05/17. Overall, an excellent opportunity. So, for anyone who is uncertain about entering, I would definitely recommend you give it a go! What's the worst that can happen? I also have some tips if you do want to enter.


  • Test your presentation beforehand and bring spares e.g.. bring it on a spare USB, email it to the organiser, have it on your laptop and bring a HDMI converter
  • Bring a slide changer- they have an added touch of professionalism  
  • Keep in contact with the other presenters
  • Attend the annual dinner- it is definitely worth it!
  • Join PIG- it might be free for you

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