I feel honoured to have been chosen as a Polar Ambassador as part of the Government’s Polar Explorer Programme – having the opportunity to engage with and positively influence young people’s life choices is definitely one of the best aspects of my job and I consider it a real privilege.
As a current STEM Ambassador I’ve delivered a number of school talks about Antarctic research and operations, but as a Polar Ambassador I can take this engagement to a much deeper level. I’m using the new Polar Research Vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, which comes into service in 2019, and my own work experience as Head of Corporate Services at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) as tools to inspire both pupils and teachers to raise their aspirations in STEM subjects.
In my day job at BAS my Finance, HR and science support teams are closely involved in the new polar research vessel project. The opportunity to step back from day-to-day project deadlines and challenges to reflect on what an inspirational vessel we are working on, and how this ship will transform the UK’s polar science capability, is incredibly powerful. The high level of public interest generated by the Name Our Ship campaign is another motivational factor.
Over the next few months I’ll be helping schools design and deliver action plans to inspire their pupils and teachers alike, and to help ensure a more effective STEM transition from primary to secondary. I hope that my own career path into a STEM industry as a Chartered Accountant via the private sector and the Red Cross will also help pupils appreciate the diversity of career paths open to them.
During the programme I’ll be delivering school assembly talks where pupils get the chance to handle Antarctic fossils and wear polar field clothing. I’ll be supporting Polar activity days where pupils complete hands on science activities with polar themes such as engineering, exploration, arctic animals, climate change and investigating the oceans. I’ll be arranging for local STEM Ambassadors to visit the schools and deliver talks in their own STEM subject areas. I’ll be helping schools link up to Antarctic researchers via Skype. If the planets align and we can overcome some technical issues, I hope to talk directly to my schools from Antarctica when I visit Rothera station on the Antarctic Peninsula next February.
For primary school pupils, opportunities like this can be life-changing. I know from delivering previous school talks how mesmerised the children are by Antarctica, and how engaging they find it – especially when they discover that we can count penguin numbers in Antarctica by studying satellite images of their poop! I hope that my input into the Polar Explorer Programme as a Polar Ambassador will help inspire the next David Attenborough or Ernest Shackleton.
Ricky Munday is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and the Head of Corporate Services at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). He leads the key professional service teams, including oversight of the research laboratories in both Antarctica and Cambridge.
After qualifying as a CA, he led support functions within the Red Cross and other aid organisations for five years in Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan & Haiti, before relocating to the UK in 2014.
Outside the office, Ricky has planned and led 15 mountaineering expeditions to 18 mountains on six continents, and he attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2017 to raise more than £7,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.