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Mid-career Perspective: Lee Dingwall

Lee Dingwall

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 Lee Dingwall, who has worked with Johnson Matthey Clean Air autocatalyst business for over nine years in various roles including process development, testing and systems development and, most recently, global analytical quality management.

Lee has a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Durham University and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of York, which was sponsored by BP Chemicals.

He has been active on the RSC and SCI committees for seven years since becoming a Chartered Chemist, holding key positions including chair and treasurer. He has also been active in a number of STEM engagement activities.     

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

As a mid-career professional, project and team management skills are more critical as is putting more focus on my network. I always maintain an up-to-date professional development plan and I regularly participate in or run networking events. I’m currently going through a chartership program and maintaining chartership through validation, whilst also acting as a mentor for chartership. 

I apply for new roles 'strategically' and I try to engage by organising and participating in conferences, delivering presentations at conferences, using tools like Yammer or internal publications to reach out across business.

It’s important to ensure that 'soft skills' are developed (e.g. leadership, negotiating, project management, presentation skills), and I also regularly review my network to ensure it is working for me.

Having a family (three children) really made me reconsider my 'career environment' and balance which has happened to me closer to mid-career and will of course continue. 

What are your challenges around mid-career support?

As I moved into management it was important to build and maintain credibility and authority through establishing effective working relationships. Maintaining a good relationship with your manager is crucial throughout your career and of course this should be legitimate and trusting.

It is important to share your professional development plan and career development targets so that your manager can work with you on this. Getting mentors to support you and at times making time to think about your career.   

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

Being active on committees has been a good way to work outside my company 'bubble' and develop informal mentorship. Mentoring in general is a great way to establish confidence by getting a second set of eyes and a new perspective. There are opportunities to get involved with participating in running an event, this can come from membership on a committee but there may be other committees that may need an extra pair of hands (or eyes) where even a small contribution can increase engagement, network and pay dividends.

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