Typical day on the job:
A typical day includes anywhere from 3 to 5 meetings. Some meetings are on-site only, some are web-ex/teleconferences with other U.S. and/or international sites. I spend most days reviewing data, discussing analytical problems, providing technical guidance and managing resources. I am also involved with writing and/or reviewing documents.
I have both an office and cubicle in the lab. I have a laptop computer that I can use to access many pieces of equipment and all of our data systems.
I work about 50 hours a week. The environment is very fast-paced. Since I work on dietary supplements, we can produce new products much faster than some prescription drugs. We have aggressive plans with large numbers of projects and short timelines.
I don't travel every month — it varies a lot. Typically, I attend regional ACS and national AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) meetings. Sometimes, I travel to our corporate headquarters, and when required, to our manufacturing sites.
Tools you can't live without:
We use mainly HPLC/UPLC with a variety of detectors, including UV, PDA, fluorescence, ELSD (evaporative light scattering detector), and mass spectrometry.
All documentation is electronic. We use electronic laboratory notebooks, GDMS (Global Document Management System) for documents, and QTS (Quality Tracking System) for investigations.
What you like most about your job:
I like participating in the development process and enjoy working with intelligent, enthusiastic, and productive people. At the end of the day, I am excited to see a product we developed on the market. Since I am a strong believer in supplements and nutritional health, I feel that I am making a difference in the quality of life for people around the world.
Best productivity trick:
I plan my time and stay focused. I use a planner and typically plan my days and weeks. When new things come up, I can shift priorities, but still make sure to stay focused on completing the task in the allotted time. I also keep detailed notes and minutes to make sure that I understand and follow up on commitments.
Best career advice you've received:
Authority is taken, not given. Look at the situation and do your best. If no direction is given, take the initiative and solve the problem. If you are successful, it is recognized. If not, you are usually told that you exceeded the boundaries and now you have learned where they are.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
Perseverance. I have been with the company for 15 years and have continued to work hard, learn new techniques, develop new skills, and take on challenges. I approach each situation with a can-do spirit, which helps me reach my goals. In addition, I was part of a Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Leadership Development program in 2012. This program helped me build the skills and confidence that I needed to take on a management position.
Essential habit you wish you'd started earlier:
Bravery. In the last year, I have been more willing to try new things and take on new challenges. I think that I would have gone farther in my career if I had taken this approach earlier.
Favorite ACS resource:
ACS local section activities. My local section has helped me to stay in touch with former instructors, network with other scientists in the community, and learn what other scientist are doing in other chemistry-related fields.
How you've benefited from being an ACS member:
Through my ACS membership, I have maintained a connection to a network of chemists, which has been helpful in problem solving and keeping me intellectually stimulated. In addition, ACS has provided me opportunities to speak to groups and organize activities. This year, the ACS is providing me a chance to further develop my leadership skills as a member of my local section's executive committee — my boss is the chair-elect of my local ACS section, and he encouraged me to become his vice chair.