In this week’s entry to our Graduate Spotlight Series, we have Phil Hainsworth. From a freelance sound engineer to a Principal Consultant at Atkins, specializing in Acoustics, Noise & Vibration, Phil’s academic journey at Derby was marked by a transition to acoustic consultancy, enriched by links to the Institute of Acoustics. His story showcases the practical and network-building opportunities Derby provides, aiding in a flourishing career marked by notable projects, particularly in the Middle East.


Phil Hainsworth grad spotlight photo.

Phil Hainsworth, Classes of 2010 (BSc), 2011 (PG Dip), and 2012 (MSc)




Current location:



Current job + employer:

Principal Consultant, Acoustics, Noise & Vibration at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group.


What did you do/study prior to coming to Derby?

A-Levels/Music Technology BTEC Diploma and freelance work as a sound engineer.


Why did you choose to go to the University of Derby?

The BSc (Hons) Sound, Light and Live Event Technology content aligned with my interests and I already knew others who had started the same course and were enjoying it. It followed on well from my Music Technology BTEC diploma and provided an opportunity to gain an undergraduate degree to advance my career opportunities.


Did you start the course with a specific focus or were you undecided?

I knew I wanted to find an academic route to a related professional career rather than continuing working as a freelancer in the live event industry.


Did that focus change on the course? If so, how?

I attended an Institute of Acoustics (IOA) conference “The Art of Being a Consultant” which really focused me on following the career path of an acoustic consultant.


Has that focus changed on graduating? If so, how?

After graduating from my undergraduate degree, I continued my studies to further specialize in acoustic engineering with the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) Post Graduate Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control and MSc Applied Acoustics at the University of Derby.


What was the most useful thing you learned on the course?

The acoustics modules we covered during my undergraduate degree provided a good foundation for my career. Some of those basic principles are still applied regularly in my job.


What did you learn on the course that you thought you’d never use, but that has come in handy during your career?

The mathematics content of the course has really helped and, perhaps surprisingly, still often comes in useful during my day job.


What did you do on the course that you never thought you would enjoy?

I really enjoyed the computer programming modules (C/C++, Audio DSP) which I had no exposure to before going to university.


What was your favourite establishment in Derby (pub, bar, club, restaurant, etc.)?

When I was a student a lot of my time was spent in the Blessington Carriage (The Bless).


What is your most memorable moment from Derby?

I studied at University of Derby for five years and lived in Derby for a number of years afterwards, even buying my first house in Derby! I have so many memorable moments over those years and met so many great people, both during my studies and from the part-time jobs I held throughout my University years.


What/who at Derby most influenced your life, and how/why?

The links that the University had to the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) really influenced my career opportunities. As a student, I attended a number of IOA Midlands Branch events that were hosted at the University which both developed my technical knowledge and helped me make industry contacts. I am now the Chairman of the IOA Midlands Branch and am pleased to say we are still hosting events at the University of Derby!


What would you say to a Derby first year student, knowing what you know now?

Any employment, even from unrelated part-time work can be useful to demonstrate valuable interpersonal skills and ‘soft-skills’ to future employers. Even better would be summer placements/internships to put you in the strongest position to get the best professional graduate jobs.


What have you done professionally since graduating?

I landed a Graduate Acoustician job with Atkins in 2012. In 2017 I moved to WSP as a Senior Engineer, returning back to Atkins in 2018 where I am now a Principal Consultant and the team lead in Birmingham for Acoustics, Noise & Vibration.


Have any Derby alumni or staff opened any doors for you? If so, who?

John Pritchard, the then course leader for the IOA Diploma and MSc Applied Acoustics, really helped with getting me ready for my first job in acoustic consultancy.


What is your most memorable moment from your career so far?

Working away in the Middle East (Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE) on some of the world’s most impressive infrastructure projects has been a real highlight. On a recent trip to Dubai, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the high-rise towers now built that I was lucky enough to have worked on a number of years ago when the building plot was just bare sand.


What are your future career plans/ambitions?

I love my career and look forward to continuing to have the opportunity to work on some of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects, particularly around sustainable transportation and energy to be a part of engineering a better future for our planet and people.

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