KickStart Your (Scientific) Career

11 Mar 2014

Liverpool and North West Group hosted another outstandingly successful KickStart evening in the Chemistry Department of Liverpool University on 13 February this year. This annual event brings together business men and women, working in the chemistry and allied industries, with undergraduate and post graduate science students, over a few beers, a buffet and a glass (or two) of wine.

Presentations last no longer than 15 minutes, and this year included Dr Claire Rees, an R&D chemist with Mexichem Fluor (which kindly sponsored this event), Dave Shaw, working at Unilever R&D Port Sunlight (and recently graduated from the Unilever Future Leaders Programme), Sue Halliday, a former teacher, who now runs her own science communication company (Science 2U), and Dr Caroline Cordery, an R&D manager with Unilever for 35 years, and who now runs her own CV consultancy, Signature CVs Ltd.

Students heard about Claire's journey through university, a post doc in Canada - or was that playing in the snow most of the time? - and then into industry. She is now with her second industrial company. Dave described how he started off in the Navy - but decided after two weeks that this was the wrong career move. He then applied for the Unilever Future Leaders Programme and after demanding interviews was accepted. He's currently a pilot plant manager.

Sue described her journey through teaching, then working at Catalyst Discovery Centre, to setting up her own company - communicating science, particularly to schools. You could feel the buzz that each of the presenters got from science and see why they were prepared to give up their own time to encourage others into a scientific career.

Finally, Caroline went through the 'Dos and Don'ts' of constructing a CV and covering letter, together with some hints on interviews.

With the formal part of the evening over, we adjourned to devour pizza, sandwiches and cheese and biscuits - all washed down with a glass or two of alcoholic beverage! Many thanks here to Dr Ian O'Neil, a Reader in Chemistry at Liverpool University. Ian always puts on a fantastic spread at very reasonable cost. These refreshments are very important, because this is where a key part of the evening takes place: with the students asking questions of the presenters and the other industrialists present - all representing an excellent cross section of industry.

Feedback was very positive and industrialists have already volunteered to speak at next year's event! Additionally, we are planning to hold a future event in Bangor, which is a staunch supporter of Kickstart, coaching around 40 students each year - thanks to Dr Loretta Murphy.

Finally, thanks to the Liverpool and North West Programme Sub-Committee for organising the event, Mexichem Fluor for sponsoring financially, and Unilever for administrative support.

Dr Caroline S Cordery

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