Mid-career Perspective: Craig Duckham

25 February 2020

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 Craig Duckham, who has over 20 years of technical development experience working as a postdoc before moving into the water industry. He progressed through roles as an analytical method development scientist to director positions in two SMEs, and now works as an independent technical consultant mainly working in the food ingredients sector.

Craig has a Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham and is a Fellow of the British Society of Flavourists, Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Member of the Chromatographic Society and Past Chair of the Food Group of the SCI.

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

I looked for a move from academic research (3 post doc projects) to industry and then progression from there on...

  • Identifying transferable skills.
  • Moving from technical to ‘soft skills’ training e.g. project management / communication skills / team leadership / negotiation skills / presentation skills (ensure that it is Continual Professional Development).
  • Continue with networking including learned society membership, where I maintain active engagement, committee membership, conference organising and participation, presentations at conferences, writing articles from journals to trade publications.

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

  • It was easier to get training and development support from a large business employer.
  • It was more of a challenge to find/ justify time and money in two SMEs as an employee and manager.
  • Identifying a mentor who can advise on the type of PPD and training that is suitable and available is not always easy.
  • Maintaining working relationships with networking contacts is important as you can gain good support.

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

Now working as an independent consultant and looking back, I would have benefitted from engaging with a formal mentoring scheme mid-career.

Participating in professional bodies and acting in officer positions on committees ensures my organisational and influencing skills are kept fresh. The networking continues to be critical for maintaining a profile in the industry and for keeping up to date and being exposed to cross discipline development.

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