Exploring new possibilities

A science degree equipped Elliot Steel with the skills needed to pivot from being an Antarctic researcher to becoming a business leader in the energy and mining sector.

Elliot Steel standing on a frozen lake in Antarctica

Studying Science at UQ equipped Elliot Steel with transferable skills to pursue career opportunities in both research and industry.

“What I value most from my science degree was the problem solving and critical thinking skills I learnt. These skills have given me a scientific approach that I can apply to any kind of problem. Whether it's devising an operational strategy for a client or collecting research data from a frozen lake in Antarctica."

During his degree, Elliot took advantage of the opportunity to work as a Geologist with BHP, and gain research experience by contributing to various climate science and energy resource projects.

Elliot working as a geologist for BHP at Blackwater, Queensland, Australia

Elliot working as a geologist for BHP at Blackwater, Queensland, Australia.

Elliot working as a geologist for BHP at Blackwater, Queensland, Australia.

He says that taking advantage of opportunities to broaden his skills and expertise opened up exciting new possibilities which changed his perspective on his future. 

"When I first started at UQ, I was set on following the traditional academic career pathway. However, every skill and learning experience you pick up shapes your future. The opportunities I had throughout my degree helped me realise that I wasn’t ready to go down the academic path just yet."

Elliot Steel with a penguin in the background

From NASA to Antarctica: The world of research

During his studies, Elliot received a UQ grant for a three-month research internship at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley.

"I got to work on planetary science research and did ocean convection modelling of one of Saturn's moons to deepen our understanding of potential sources of energy analogous to extreme environments that sustain life here on Earth," he said.

Following graduation Elliot was invited by his NASA research group on a six-week field trip to Antarctica to study isolated lake environments supporting life.

Utilising technology to gather data from frozen lakes was a fantastic opportunity to challenge my problem-solving abilities,” he said.

"With limited resources, access to information and connectivity to the real world, we really had to rely on our problem-solving skills to overcome the various challenges of carrying out our research - such as drilling and melting holes beneath three metres of ice cover so that we could deploy sensor equipment and send a diver to collect samples from below the ice."
Elliot at NASA Ames Research Center in the US

Elliot at NASA Ames Research Center in the US.

Elliot at NASA Ames Research Center in the US.

Elliot in Cape Town, South Africa, waiting to board his flight to Antarctica where he spent six weeks studying isolated lake environments supporting life.

Elliot in Cape Town, South Africa, waiting to board his flight to Antarctica where he spent six weeks studying isolated lake environments supporting life.

Elliot in Cape Town, South Africa, waiting to board his flight to Antarctica where he spent six weeks studying isolated lake environments supporting life.

The airstrip in Antarctica.

The airstrip in Antarctica.

The airstrip in Antarctica.

Elliot standing in front of his Antarctic study site.

Elliot standing in front of his Antarctic study site.

Elliot standing in front of his Antarctic study site.

The research campsite in Antarctica.

The research campsite in Antarctica.

The research campsite in Antarctica.

Building a bright future in business

Elliot currently works as management consultant with a focus on the mining and infrastructure sectors.

He draws on his geo-science and geo-physics expertise to develop practical solutions to complex problems that his clients face either in their own business or within the broader industry.

"Every day I get to apply the transferable skills and specialist knowledge I gained throughout my degree to contribute to industries that I’m passionate about.”

Elliot says one of the most enjoyable aspects of working in industry is the relationships he has built.

“Having come from a research background where you mostly work on your own or with a small core group of people, I really enjoy the opportunities to collaborate with my clients and connect with a diverse range of people from across the industry."

About Elliot Steel

Elliot Steel

Current role

  • Associate at McKinsey & Company, Sydney, Australia

Previous roles

  • Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company, Sydney, Australia
  • Research Intern at University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Australia
  • Researcher at VCSI, Antarctica
  • Research Intern at NASA, San Francisco Bay Area, USA
  • Geological Scientist at BHP, Blackwater Mine, Australia

UQ qualifications

Where will science take you?

View other profiles to explore the pathways that many of UQ’s science graduates have taken in fields such as agriculture, biotechnology, business, food science, marine and environmental sciences, research, veterinary science and more.

Visit the Future Students website to learn more about UQ's Science and Mathematics programs.