Doctorate in Biomedical Science, 2012

John has had an eclectic career to date – spanning several professions from School Teacher, to Airline pilot. John is one of many professionals that have a multi-portfolio career in this busy world.

Originally completing a degree in Leeds, John then became a schoolteacher, teaching Chemistry, Physics and Biology to GCSE students in several schools. After this, he went back to university, requalifying as a Biomedical Scientist. Specialising in medical microbiology, he completed his pre-reg training in the London hospitals before moving to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals where he eventually became a specialist grade, examiner, and assessor for both clinical and laboratory staff alongside his routine and emergency diagnostic workload. He has a particular interest in renal microbiology but has also completed significant research into combination therapy for cystic fibrosis patients. 

John Kenning headshot

Alongside this career, John also qualified as a flight instructor – teaching students of all abilities from ab initio through to experienced pilots, with a particular interest in those students who are experiencing difficulties in their training, or those with significant disabilities.

After 15 years with the NHS, John moved to the airlines where he flew the Dash 8 Q400 turboprop and the modern Embraer 175/195 jets for Flybe across busy regional routes around Europe. He is now flying both the clockwork Boeing 737 300 and 737 800 “Next Generation” for one of the UK’s largest holiday airlines.

John now combines his airline career with his medical work where he practices in an honorary capacity in the Leeds Teaching Hospitals. 

Outside of work, John is a member of the RAF Air Cadet organisation and leads both aero modelling and flight simulator work at squadron level and with the Air Operations Acquaintance Center at RAF Linton on Ouse near York. He teaches all of the technical subjects and enjoys inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.

Top tips for graduates

"The difference between those who can, and those who do, is sheer determination" – this may sound like a common cliché, but when the cheques are bouncing, and the study is hard, that is the time to dig deep. The mountain to clim, and we all have our mountains, is often so tall, that we can't see a way over the top. The trick is to keep your eyes on the prize, with a "can do" approach. Deal with each problem as you get to it, but never take your eyes off that final goal. Remember, better to sacrifice a year of your life now, or face some hardship whilst you're young, than to look back in 20 years and wish you had. You can't go to jail for being broke, and I speak from experience, when I say that a year or two of your life is but a drop in the ocean of time!

"You can do anything" – again, a typical cliché. It is relevant for all age groups, and people at different stages of their career. How often do people with established jobs say, "this is all I can do", or "what else would I do?" We must remember to think outside the box – each career has lots of roles within it. We finish university with lots of transferable skills, but easily get ourselves funneled into roles that do not necessarily make us happy. Remember to look around you – the entire world is out there, and there is very little that isn’t achievable. But your determination should always be tempered by a realistic view of the likely problems and challenges.

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