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Mid-career Perspective: Matthew Gill

Mid-career member: Matthew Gill

In a new interview series, members of the SCI Mid-Career group offer advice on career management, and how to overcome career challenges.

In this interview, we hear from Matthew Gill, who started his science journey at ICI Agrochemicals (now Syngenta), where he obtained his GRIC and BSc (Hons) in chemistry through day releases over 5 years, whilst developing his chemistry skills on herbicide/fungicide projects.

After 15 years in Agrochemicals, the final 2 years being focused on robotic synthesis, he moved into Medicinal chemistry by joining Argenta (now CRL UK) in the CRO sector. He progressed from synthetic chemist to group leader in Analytics through his interest in technology solutions and process improvements to enable delivery of strong, effective science.

Q1. What are the key things you do to manage your career at the mid-career stage?

  • Ensure that you engage in a career or development plan with you manager and discuss opportunities with colleagues outside your immediate sphere to ensure you are aware of the bigger environment.
  • Engage in conversations that explores the evolution of your environment and employer/business.
  • Network at any opportunity and target talk to one new person at each event.
  • Look to build a profile of 'soft skills,' understanding your strengths, how to use them to build up your weaknesses or how to find those around you that complement you, so you can add to your team.
  • Recognising the skills gained outside of work may be contributory to the workplace. I am a founder member of a girls football club and within 6 years, it has grown from a handful of players to the biggest girls club in Essex. I also act as Treasurer and Team Manager within the club. I would also add the skills of negotiating with my three daughters (and failing at times!) helps to develop empathy and tenacity!

Q2. What are your challenges around mid-career support?

CRL is a very supportive employer with very good engagement/development support. So, the challenges are more often time based in mid-career. Managers are often busy being client or contract focused which makes it difficult to identify enough time for regular self-development or support of others around you.

Groups such as SCI mid-careers group enables you to stop and pause, to gain that external perspective or self-analysis that will enable you to make the most of opportunities with confidence, finding paths through difficult choices with network support.

Q3. What has been useful or what could be of interest at the mid-career stage that SCI might be able to offer?

Breaking down your core skills as well as career experience and to recognise how these can translate to other disciplines or opportunities outside of your existing field.

CRL has introduced mental health first aiders in 2019 based on the fact that 1 in 5 people have a mental health concern. This means that on a site of 200 staff, there will be around 40 who are trying to cope with a mental health concern in their day to day life. Therefore, having an awareness of this fact and how an individual in their mid-career path can support all staff to be productive members of a team could be very useful.     

Lastly, build on the progression idea of 'identify who does the job you want to do, then ask them what they learnt to enable them to do it and then plan to learn those skills'.

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