17 Jan 2013
Following the success of the Yorkshire and the Humber group careers seminar at the University of York, The University of Leeds hosted a similar event on 29 November 2012. The event was designed to inform undergraduates, postgraduates and post-docs on the range of careers possible from lab-based to office-based roles.
Rebecca Farnell, from the Chemistry Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) explained to the audience what knowledge transfer is. She then demonstrated that many different routes are possible to earn a career in the chemical industry and that a PhD is not required, however, experience is essential. She also showed the importance of finding a mentor and having a career development plan.
Paula Tomlin, a senior scientist in pharmaceutical development has the vital job of providing materials for clinical trials, making batches from 500g to 500kg of drug substances. She spoke of how a typical day in the job means moving between lab, office and plant, keeping in touch with people working in a multitude of disciplines, including chemists, process engineers, crystallisation and formulation scientists and project managers. She stressed the importance of working in an extended team, and the variety and enjoyment that brings to a working day.
Dan Woollaston, a trainee patent attorney, was kind enough to give his entertaining talk from the University of York careers options seminar again. He described how the role of the patent attorney is to advise on patentability, filing strategy, prosecution strategy, on freedom to operate/infringement issues, due diligence, litigation and licensing. He highlighted the keys skills required for his role are common sense, empathy, problem solving, communication and the ability to influence.
Harvey Smith, a senior manager from Nufarm UK, gave a talk about manufacturing. He showed that undertaking industrial placements can be very important and offer vital experience in industry. After his placement in quality control he decided to become a process operator, which required shift work. This move was seen by some as a backward step but he made the decision because of the progression opportunities.
This role allowed Harvey to use his chemistry skills whilst developing his man-management skills. He has since moved to shift supervisor and then plant manager. He says it is very important to look for gaps where you can make a contribution and get yourself the knowledge/experience you need to get there.