Skip to main content
Queen Mary Alumni

Drishti Masand - Alumni Profile

(Materials Science and Engineering BEng, 2018)

My logic was, if you can achieve sustainability with sportswear, you can achieve sustainability with the regular clothes that we wear as consumers. Within the sportswear world, this goal limited me down to a handful of companies and it just so happened to work out with Adidas, which is where I am now!


Headshot of alumna Drishti Masand

Why did you choose to study BEng Materials Science and Engineering at Queen Mary? 

My Dad is a Mechanical Engineer, and my Mum is a Biochemist, so I grew up immersed in the world of science. I was always intrigued by physics and chemistry and the practicality of these applied sciences. What attracted me to engineering was the fact that it is about solving real world problems and this hands-on approach offered something more than just absorbing purely theoretical knowledge. When researching engineering courses, I came across Materials Science and Engineering and I was drawn to this discipline as I knew nothing about it and during my research, I realised that it impacts us daily – from the materials used in the clothes we wear, to the materials used in appliances such as our laptops and headphones. However, Materials doesn’t have the same recognition as other disciplines in terms of the amount of research that goes into developing the materials themselves and factoring in things such as performance and sustainability. Through my studies and now my career, I wanted to actively contribute to raising the reputation of this discipline.

Imperial and Queen Mary were the only two London based universities that offered this degree and I felt like Queen Mary was more focused on propelling students toward industry rather than further research which is what I wanted to do after graduation as I wanted to see the direct impact of my research.

Which modules did you most enjoy and did any academics have a strong influence on shaping your time and studies here?

All my modules were great and complemented each other. However, one aspect of the course that stood out and which had the most impact was the focus on project-based learning (PBL) and social-emotional learning (SEL); these were the projects I enjoyed most as I could leave the classroom and put my theory to use. They felt like such a realistic imitation of the working world and helped me become a holistic engineer and person as I gained the hard and soft skills needed to join industry. Examples of projects included building a boat to race down the Mile End canal and building a bridge that weighed under 100g (about the weight of a deck of playing cards) but could hold over 10kg.

Professor James Busfield was critical to my Queen Mary journey and we are still in touch today. He excels at both ends of the teaching spectrum – he is so clever academically, but he also cares deeply about his students. His teaching style and feedback, particularly on my third-year projects, made me a more critical thinker and he became a great mentor to me. I leaned on him academically but also in terms of my career and next steps.

What was special about your time at Queen Mary?

The whole experience. Student life was really engaging and everyone was so collaborative both from a social and academic perspective. My Materials cohort was fairly small but at no point did it become competitive or cliquey; we all worked so well together and helped each other grow.

I most appreciated my time at Queen Mary when giving tours to prospective students in my role as a SEMS ambassador. Sharing my personal experience with someone looking from the outside in allowed me to reflect on how lucky I was to be a student myself!

Tell us briefly about your career journey after graduation.

After I graduated, I pursued a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University. Queen Mary’s reputation, the quality of the course content, and my academic references were critical in helping me secure a place at an Ivy League university in the US. The materials classes that were prescribed for master’s students were things that I learnt in my first and second years at Queen Mary and this made me realise the wealth of knowledge I had compared to other international students. This gave me the opportunity to take more business classes which in turn helped me realise that I didn’t want to work in a lab anymore.

After Cornell, I worked as a consultant for two years for a boutique company in Boston. I got to work with Fortune 500 companies on different innovations and I started focusing primarily on sustainable technologies related to consumer-packaged goods such as apparel, food, and beverage. I really enjoyed the diversity of these projects and found it so interesting to see how my Materials knowledge could be applied to so many different industries and products.

Based on this experience, I decided to dive directly into industry and the industry that stood out to me most, and that I felt most passionate about, was the apparel industry. Sportswear particularly fascinated me because athletes need products to be the best that they can be so that their performance isn’t compromised in any way. So, my logic was, if you can achieve sustainability with sportswear, you can achieve sustainability with the regular clothes that we wear as consumers. Within the sportswear world, this goal limited me down to a handful of companies and it just so happened to work out with Adidas, which is where I am now!

What has motivated you to move from one role to the next?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated from Queen Mary. My master’s degree helped me to figure out my next move and in between my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, I also worked on different projects within four different industries from Pepsi to a biomedical engineering company, to gain a clearer picture. Initially, consulting was a fantastic way for me to explore lots of different industries, but I was motivated to move on once I found an industry that spoke to me on both a professional and personal level.

Based on my path, the best piece of advice I can give to graduates is to carry on exploring if you are not sure what you want to do. I am so thankful that I didn’t settle for something I was only half sure about. It is never too late to explore new opportunities and industries!

You have just started a new role as Manager, Sustainability Direction at Adidas. What are your main responsibilities in this role?

Adidas has been a sustainability leader for almost twenty years, but being such a large organisation, sometimes there are multiple things happening on the same topic or project by different teams and there is no real cohesiveness that can help transfer this work into a tangible outcome. My team, which is the Sustainability Direction team, falls under the Global Operations umbrella of Adidas and our key role is to bring alignment and guidance around the different areas of sustainability at Adidas. We also provide the long-term vision and goals for the organisation.

We have our 2025, 2030 and 2050 goals, but we need to plan even further because it is likely that in 2050, we will be grappling with even more sustainability issues than we face today. This is inevitable as today’s research will mean we uncover more areas that humans are impacting from an environmental and social standpoint. I look at topics like biobased materials, materials innovation and how different technologies and innovations will help enable us and set us up for more long-term goals and outcomes to enable a more sustainable future.

How is your degree relevant to this job?

Because a big part of my role focuses on existing material portfolios and material innovations, I am constantly relied upon as a technical leader. We have our experts that work in the materials team and our suppliers who can give us the technical information that we need but as someone who looks at the implementation side of things, it is critical that I understand the technical aspects and speak the same language. I am working on biobased materials and I still refer to the class that I took in the second and third year at Queen Mary for basic knowledge. I then apply this knowledge by evaluating different products, startups and technologies that come through to see what is feasible and what will help us achieve our goals. So overall, my degree and my education have helped me feel confident in the technical aspect of my role.

What is the link between engineering and sustainability?

Every degree has an impact on sustainability but through engineering, it is so critical to achieve environmental sustainability. For example, to get our greenhouse gas emissions lowered by using more sustainable materials that have a lower carbon footprint, or to process and use recycled water. All these topics have their roots in the research carried out by engineering academics 10/20 years ago. Engineering brings theoretical aspects of the sciences, like chemistry and physics, into conversation with the real world and reveals how the former impacts the latter. Studying engineering helps you take this knowledge and apply it into industry and given the global crisis that we face today, it is critical that we produce more engineers so that we still have a planet in 20/30 years to come.

Why should everyone care about sustainability, not just those working in engineering and environmental industries? 

Unfortunately, things from both an environmental and social standpoint have deteriorated globally to such an extent that every little thing that an individual does has the power to make a small difference. Sustainability is about preserving our future and about knowing that we will have a future far past what we can see or predict. It is important that every single person thinks about this so that we can leave our planet better than when we inherited it. Cumulatively, individual actions add up to an exceptionally large action and we must start from an individual level, because nothing can happen on a global scale immediately. We must choose to do better every single day.

Why would you encourage more people to study engineering and pursue a career in the engineering industry?

There is a dire need for more engineers and holistic engineers – engineers that are not just disciplined in one strand but who can understand multiple strands. Going back to sustainability, the fact that we have so many global needs and so many countries and cities to improve, is an argument why more people should study engineering. There is such a need to do better globally and for me, that is what engineering does; it takes something, and it makes it better. I am in love with this idea that anything an engineer does results in something being created rather than staying the same.

Engineering is also an extremely rewarding career path. It is an opportunity to leave a legacy and make the world a better place. There are very few other disciplines where you can see the tangible impact of your work. If you are a curious, creative, and innovative person, you will never get bored of engineering.

As a woman working in the engineering industry, what has your experience been like?

I have not directly experienced any inequality or prejudice, but I know of and I am aware of people around me who have. This is an issue that we will be grappling with years from now, but things are slowly getting better. Statistics year after year do show that things are improving, especially in the materials science world where the ratio of men to women is fairly good.

I’ve had people say, ‘you’re a woman in STEM, that must make it easier for you to get a job because you are more attractive in today’s climate’, but I have never tried to play the woman card and I actively try to work against it so that my work and skills speak for me. This should be the case for everyone, regardless of their protected characteristics.

Finally, outside of work, what do you do in your spare time?

I am a qualified spin instructor! This is something that I picked up while living in London and became so passionate to the point that I wanted to teach it. It is my way of taking a break as my mind never fully switches off. Everyone should find something that helps them escape their own mind!

If you would like to get in touch with Drishti or engage her in your work, please contact the Alumni Engagement team at 




Back to top