Day of Science and Careers Scotland 2015

6 Jul 2015

Day of Science and Careers Scotland - ‘an excellent event, with a diverse range of speakers and great for networking.’

The SCI Scotland Group, in partnership with SCI’s Early Careers Support Sub Committee (ECSSC), held a Day of Science and Careers event at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, on June 1, 2015. In total, there were 48 delegates who enjoyed a number of high quality talks and discussion and networking sessions.

The meeting was opened by Prof Russell Howe, Scotland Group Secretary and University of Aberdeen, who extended his welcome and greetings to all participants. He briefly introduced SCI and its aims and objectives, with a particular emphasis on support for early career members.

Prof Andy Porter - Day of Science and Careers ScotlandThe first presentation was given by Prof Andy Porter, Institute of Medical Science, University of Aberdeen, who talked about Entrepreneurship and Careers in BioScience SMEs. Based on the story of the company Novobiotics, he addressed the various involvement and job opportunities for Chemists and Life Scientists in the drug development process, and also highlighted the job as a patent attorney as an interesting potential career path for young graduates in Chemistry and other Life Sciences disciplines.

The second talk was given by Jordan Conway, Research & Development Manager at SIRAKOSS, a company specialising in developing novel synthetic bone grafts. Jordan offered a fascinating insight view in the founding and growth of this start-up company, covering various aspects ranging from the company’s portfolio, its new approach to designing bone replacements, funding sources, company financing and the history of the company from day 1 until 4 years later.

Dr Jamie Kerr who is a past SCI Scholar now working for Clariant Oil Services, delivered the third presentation and gave an overview about job types within the oil industry in which chemists are involved. Current roles span a range from specialised chemical service companies, service companies with a more general scope but with individual divisions dedicated to innovative chemistries, service companies sending chemists offshore, and universities with petroleum research departments.

Day of Science and Careers ScotlandThe meeting then broke for lunch, which gave the opportunity for delegates to get to know one another as they discussed what they had learned that morning and make use of the pre-prepared business cards, which had been given to them earlier, so they can keep in touch with one another after the event.

After lunch, Dr Carol Munro, Institute of Medical Science, University of Aberdeen provided details on how to start out in academia, using her own career path as an example. She addressed the various stages including her personal experience and the required skills and abilities during her career timeline, covering the various stages such as PhD, postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, senior lecturer and reader. In particular, she provided first-hand information regarding the challenges to establishing and maintaining an independent research group, also providing hints and tips on how these can be addressed.

Beatrice Tilt currently is a Regulatory Affairs Associate at GlaxoSmithKline, and she gave a fascinating inside view of the GSK ‘Regulatory Affairs (R&D) Future Leaders Programme’. She reported about the various stages of this 2 year structured training programme which involves four 6 month stages at different departments and location with this ‘Big Pharma’ company, and in her presentation she also provided valuable information on communication and interview skills.

In the third and final session, Janice Montgomery, Senior Careers Advisor at University of Aberdeen, addressed the relevant aspects of CV preparation. Using examples from her own professional experience, she highlighted the key strategies for writing a good CV, for example deconstructing vacancies. She also explained the key differences of a skills based CV vs an academic CV and the importance of web based portals such as Vitae or Gradcracker.

Ronnie Palin - Day of Science and Careers ScotlandThe penultimate presentation was given by Ronnie Palin, Skills Development Scotland, Glasgow. Ronnie introduced the ‘Life and Chemical Sciences Skills Investment Plans’ which are part of the Scottish government’s economic strategy and skills strategy in relation to the life sciences sector. Topics covered included building graduate work readiness, improving the attractiveness of the sector to new entrants, attracting and anchoring key skills, and building an accessible and responsive skills system.

The event was summed up by Bob Tooze, Sasol Technology UK Ltd and Chemical Life Sciences Scotland, who provided key figures highlighting the importance of the Scottish Chemical Industry, and explained the key strategy of Chemical Sciences Scotland. He questioned the relevance of the common distinction of pure vs applied chemistry and rather focused on the ‘linear model’ of R&D leading to innovation, and his insightful outlook on a career in science for younger graduates emphasised the transition from data via information via knowledge to wisdom.

The event ended with an informal drinks reception which gave an excellent opportunity for further interactions between the speakers and the participants and other networking activities.

Presentations from Day of Science and Careers Scotland can be viewed on the SCI website, please click on the link below to access.

A short video of the day is available below:

Rainer Ebel
SCI Scotland Group Committee

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