Typical day on the job:
I spend about 45% of my time in our lab/pilot facility, 20% planning/designing experiments, 20% managing projects/teams, and 15% in meetings.
In my area, we have three groups: process chemistry, where I work with colleagues who are chemists and chemical technicians, and two engineering development groups. These three groups share the same lab and pilot plant facilities, as well as various equipment and resources. We also each have our own individual work areas and hood spaces.
I generally work 40 hours a week. It’s a fast-moving environment, but a fun, relaxed atmosphere where collaboration is encouraged.
I am not required to travel.
What you like most about your job:
The ability to innovate and bring new ideas to fruition, my work designing lab and pilot scale units for scale-up, and the diverse teams I work with. I also get to physically do my work on a small scale, which makes it easier to see where problems occur and how to fix or tweak the process to get the desired result.
Best productivity trick:
Know your goal and find creative ways to get there. Because I can actually “reach in” to the process I’m working on, I can get creative and make changes, try different parameters, and use trial and error to find a workable solution.
Best career advice you’ve received:
Have fun, work hard, and don’t pass on a good opportunity — even if it isn't what you think you want at the time.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
Creativity, adaptability, and good communication. A lot of people at Eastman support specific processes or products. In my role, I’m more of a utility-type person, working on any process that comes through that doesn’t fit in a standard area, or that might be harder to nail down in terms of its value proposition. So I have to be ready to handle a broad variety of projects. It’s sometimes a little tricky, but definitely keeps life interesting, and lets me see a lot of different things going on within the company. It also means that I have to be able to communicate with people all the way from technicians, mechanics, and operators to fellow engineers and even the executive team.
Essential habit you wish you’d started earlier:
The ability to see the big picture and understand how my work affects the company as a whole, and not just me and my area.
How you've benefited from being an ACS member:
I got involved with the ACS when I was a freshman, through the ACS Scholars Program, which provides monetary and mentoring assistance to students from underrepresented groups in the chemical sciences. In my career, it has been important to have mentors and people I could talk to and look up to; in fact, I’m now on the selection committee for the program, so it feels good to stay plugged in and give back. I also participate on the ACS Women Chemists of Color (WCoC) committee. We do a lot of outreach activities to help students learn strategies for success in what has long been a male-dominated field.