Chemists in the Real World

Michele Margherita

 


Michele Margherita,
Senior Account Executive

Brenntag Specialties
B.S. Biochemistry with a Minor in Business

 


As a regional and national account sales executive, Michele Margherita spends more than half her time on the road, but for her, that’s one of her favorite parts about her job.

“I enjoy the freedom of not being tied to an office five days a week,” she says. “I make my own schedule so can schedule travel and time away from home at my discretion.”

But it’s not just the schedule, Margherita enjoys. Margherita is responsible for selling chemical ingredients to Brenntag Specialties’ food, pharma and personal care customers. “Selling ingredients to cosmetic companies is fun and I'd like to see more young people consider cosmetic chemistry as a career either in the lab or in sales,” she says.

She’s been in chemical sales most of her career, with a six-year break she spent in marketing. The marketing stint made her a better salesperson, she says. Her bachelor’s degree in chemistry isn’t essential to her sales role, she says, but it helps. “It definitely gave me an advantage and instantly lends credibility when I meet new customers.” 

Margherita also works with the Chemical Education Foundation's (CEF) program, You Be the Chemist (YBTC). CEF is a non-profit foundation supported by the chemical industry, including Brenntag, to promote science edutation for grades K-8. In the YBTC Challenge, student in grades 5-8 compete for prizes and awards based on their knowledge of chemistry.

Today, Margherita is a senior account executive at Brenntag Specialties.

What's a typical day on the job like?

When I am visiting customers, I meet with purchasing and R&D departments to review sales, introduce new products, assist in formulation work, and negotiate for new business. When I am in my office, I attend training meetings, send and receive emails from customers, suppliers and co-workers on technical and sales related issues.

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

Laptop, cell phone, Microsoft office programs, internet acces.

Describe your work environment.

When I’m not visiting customers, I spend time between my home office with my computer, phone, internet, printer and my company office. I am in a shared cubicle with access to company equipment, phone and mail services.

Michele Margherita at expo

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

I travel more than 15 days each month. On travel weeks, my work time can extend to 50-60 hours each week. When I’m not travelling, my work week is closer to 40 hours each week. The environment is fast paced since cell phones with email allow continuous access to work.

What's your best productivity trick?

Answer emails at set times during the day. Otherwise, answering email is all I would do all day. You need to set time aside for long term projects or you will keep putting them off.

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

Don't be afraid to ask for a raise or more vacation time. The boss can only say no and won't hold it against you.

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

I am outgoing and not afraid to talk to strangers. I am very curious about what makes other people tick so can easily find something to talk to anyone about.

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

Start each day with a list of tasks to complete and finish them.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

CE&N for news on the industry and new technology, good fodder for conversation both for work and personal life. I also enjoy the Thursday ACS webinars on diverse topics such a wine and Hollywood chemistry.