Chemists in the Real World

Ian Henry

 

Ian Henry, Capability Leader Beauty Microscopy and Imaging

Procter & Gamble
Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry (NMR Spectroscopy)


After finishing his bachelor’s degree at Earlham College, Ian Henry planned to locate to Boston, MA, and learned through networking about Alkermes, a company that was hiring in the area. He worked through a scientific temp agency to get a position with the company, and worked there for a year before leaving for graduate school at Purdue University.

In graduate school, Henry focused on Analytical Chemistry, and specifically, NMR spectroscopy. He also designed solenoidal microcoil NMR probes for high-throughput volume-limited biofluid analysis. Before receiving his PhD. in 2008, he interviewed on campus at Purdue with Procter & Gamble (in addition to other companies). That interview led to phone and onsite interviews with Procter & Gamble, and ultimately an offer of employment.

Today, Henry manages the microscopy and imaging lab for the Procter & Gamble Beauty business. He and his team are responsible for creating visuals that communicate the technology and benefits behind their products, and their toolbox includes high resolution photography and video, SEM (cryo and VP), thermal imaging, light microscopy of various forms and 3D imaging.

Please describe your typical day on the job.

I spend the majority of my time, about 60%, participating in meetings and collaborating with coworkers and others by email. The rest of my day is typically divided about equally between managing my team, writing reports, and planning and executing experiments.

Typically, how many days each month do you spend away from your workplace on travel?

It averages out to about 1-5 days a month. We’re headquartered in Cincinnati, and we have multiple tech centers that I have to visit, along with various conferences, training, and recruitment tours.

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?

We cannot live without our microscopes, or without MS Office. We also rely heavily on image analysis software such as Image Pro as well as Adobe Creative Suite, which helps us develop creative and compelling ways to communicate what we’re doing to various audiences.

Describe your work environment.

We work in personal offices attached directly to our labs, where we share all equipment over the network. However, this is an anomaly at P&G anymore, and we are expecting to switch to a separate lab and cube office environment in the not-too-distant future.

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

I work 50 - 60 hours per week, typically. The environment is definitely fast-paced and the amount I work ebbs and flows.

What do you like most about your job and why?

I love working on products that I can see on the shelf in the store. I also love working with bright people and being able to think outside of the box and in a creative way in the work that I do. I love the flexibility the company gives, whether working from home, compressed or less-than-full-time schedules, training opportunities, etc. 

What is your best productivity trick?

My best productivity trick is effective use of email, from the choice of recipients, to the subject line to the message content. I craft wording to drive reading of the message, clarity and alignment of its contents and completion of the requested action.

What's the best career advice you've received?

Success is intentional. Understand what is important to you in LIFE. Align your work life to what is important in your bigger LIFE, bring your WHOLE SELF to work and you will be happy and successful.

What personal talent or trait makes you a great fit for your job?

I am versatile and a good people person. I can communicate clearly with partners and I am humble enough to learn from anyone, despite having an advanced degree (most people give me kudos for not seeming like a typical Ph.D.). I will do whatever task is necessary to get the work done. 

Is there anything else you would like to mention about your career?

I owe a large part of my success thus far to having a great, well-rounded background, not least of which is the liberal arts degree in chemistry I earned from Earlham College.

What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?

Great note taking. I was a relatively poor note-taker in college. I’ve worked to become more disciplined at it, in part by doing digital note-taking at most meetings in which I participate. Not only does it help me better absorb and retain what we’re discussing, but in some cases, I’ve found that sharing my notes afterwards with fellow participants can actually help build consensus around whatever was agreed to. I feel that I am much more skilled at note-taking now, and wish I had worked harder at it, or sought some coaching, earlier on.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

I read Chemical & Engineering News pretty religiously. It has been a great way to get a feel for the industrial landscape, and when I was looking for jobs, it gave me a good sense of what industry was looking for and which avenues I could pursue for employment. Today it continues to help me keep up with scientific news and trends, and the changing landscape of my profession.

How have you benefited from being an ACS member?

Networking has been the biggest benefit by far, as it’s helped me quickly establish effective professional relationships with other chemists I’ve met through my local section. ACS membership serves as a kind of quick vetting process that lets me (and the colleagues whom I meet) have an immediate sense of our connection and shared interests.