Typical day on the job:
My days are very variable. Most days I spend some time in the lab and analyzing data, and I supervise undergraduate co-op students who do some of the hands-on work. I average about one formal meeting a day, but much of my time is spent informally conferring with my colleagues. Instead of writing formal reports, we share results with colleagues around the world by email and phone conferences.
I have a cubicle with a laptop computer. There are also various labs that are shared among a large group of people, including a cleanroom, a "wet" chemical lab, and engineering labs for hardware development. We have demo versions of the electroplating systems we sell as well as various microscopes and other analytical metrology tools.
I work ~50 hours/week. It's an extremely fast-paced environment. We have customers and colleagues around the world, especially in Asia, so there are often emails and phone conferences late at night.
I travel a couple of times a year. I visit our customers to train them to implement the processes I’ve developed, to learn about problems they are trying to solve, and to discuss future collaborations. I also occasionally attend scientific conferences.
Best productivity trick:
Hire a good co-op student! :)
In the past, I have sometimes tried to segregate "lab days" when I do experiments and "non-lab days" when I write reports, analyze data, etc. It helps to not be running back and forth between the lab and the office all day.
Best career advice you've received:
Find an area where you can make an impact.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
I'm extremely well organized and very detail oriented. I can take a large amount of raw data and draw conclusions from it.
Essential habit you wish you'd started earlier:
Before I go home each night, I jot down a few lines about what I did that day. It's helpful to remind myself of some of the smaller projects I've worked on for annual reviews or resume updates, or just to remember ideas I want to go back to pursue later.
Favorite ACS resource:
Reading Chemical & Engineering News keeps me up to date on the industry.