Chemists in the Real World
Since taking his first job with Monsanto in 1980, Andrew Klein has done it all: he’s worked in electrochemistry, analytical chemistry, formulations, regulatory affairs, product development, chemical consulting, project management, process improvement, food ingredient processing and now marketing. He’s worked for Fortune 500 companies like Monsanto and DuPont, with a start-up, as an independent contractor and now for a nonprofit. He’s led an organization of 70 scientists and engineers, and has been a one-person department.
“My advice,” he says, “Be open to new experiences!”
Klein received his degree in analytical chemistry, specializing in organic electrochemistry, and completed a postdoc in polymer chemistry before starting with Monsanto. His current position involves strategy direction for the technical marketing and trade servicing of U.S. soy outside the country. He is a devoted cover-to-cover reader of Chemical & Engineering News and also credits ACS for the local section resources and job and career advice.
Today he serves as the international director of program strategy with the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
What's a typical day on the job like?
Management and reporting on active projects throughout our global operations, 10%; support of active projects, 50%; strategy review and recommendations for future programs, 35%; administrative work to assure we are complying with applicable policies and regulations, 5%.
Work is accomplished through meetings, conferences, reading, review, and original research.
Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?
Microsoft Office, Smart phones, laptop computer, virtual private network to shared drives, SharePoint, Adobe Acrobat
Describe your work environment.
I have a closed door office with a small table in addition to a desk, credenza and book shelves. I am rapidly migrating to a paperless system for documents and data.
What sort of work schedule do you keep?
We have a fast-paced, ever-changing work load. Typically, I work 45 to 50 hours per week while at the home office and 13 to 15 hours per day when travelling. I travel 6-10 days each month. Travel is necessary to align our strategies for promoting U.S. Soy with our major importers located in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
What is your best productivity trick?
Reserve space in your personal calendar to get at least several hours of uninterrupted work done per day.
What's the best career advice you've received?
One of the things I like most about my current job is working with good people located around the globe who are dedicated to the mission of expanding the exports of U.S. Soy. But you don't have to like the people you work with (although it helps). You do have to find a way to work with them!
Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?
Logical thinking, driven by data.
What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?
Separate urgency and importance—choose the important over the urgent.
What is your favorite ACS resource?
Chemical & Engineering News! I read it cover to cover.
Be open to new experiences!"