Why did you choose to embark on a career in science?
I have always been a biologist at heart, having been mad about natural history since the age of 3, so it seemed inevitable that I would develop a passion for biology at school, that I would study some form of it at university and that I would go on to pursue it as a career – I could never imagine doing anything else, to be honest.
When/how did you start your career?
I started with a degree in microbiology at Cardiff University but it soon became apparent that I would require further qualifications and experience in order to progress my career, so I returned to Cardiff to study for a PhD. This was followed by a research post at the University and then my first position in industry with QinetiQ plc.
What drives you to work so passionately?
A combination of factors. I have always believed that it is important to give your best and go the extra mile and I have applied this approach to every job I have had, from a holiday job in a leisure centre whilst at Uni to my current post at Biological Preparations.
I am hugely passionate about the work we do here at BioPrep and BioHygiene, and am fortunate enough to have fantastic colleagues who make it such an amazing place to work.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
Firstly I suppose, doing what I wanted to do where I wanted to do it. As a youngster I did find it pretty challenging to move away to University and again down to Dorchester when I worked for QinetiQ. However there was no choice but to overcome these difficulties in order to do what I wanted to do. Patience was also required to find the job I wanted and the only way to overcome that was to keep trying!
Moving on, since I started working with biological products, it has sometimes been difficult to convince people about the merits of microbes and what they can do. This situation has improved over the years but there can still be some scepticism, not helped by the fact that there are still a lot of poorly formulated products out there.
I very much enjoy taking part in customer visits, carrying out demonstrations and organising customer trials to show how versatile microbes can be and how well they work in products for cleaning, odour removal, wastewater treatment, agriculture and other applications.
What are your proudest achievements?
Firstly, obtaining my degree and PhD. This might sound strange but I was the first in our immediate family to go to university and my father was from a much older generation when very few people went on to secondary school, let alone higher education. So at first he didn’t believe I could actually do it, but he was very proud to be proved wrong!
More latterly my proudest achievement has been working with friends and colleagues to start Biological Preparations in 2009 and being part of developing the Company into what it is today.
What is the best thing about working in science?
The variety (there is never a dull moment!) and the knowledge that you are contributing to a greater cause.
Have there been any major influencers that have inspired you in your career?
I have been fortunate to have a number of excellent teachers and supervisors who greatly inspired me during my education and early stages of my career.
At school, Mr P.J. Veale and Miss S.J. Dunn were fantastic biology teachers and really cemented my passion for the subject.
Moving on to university, all biology students studied the same first year and I was initially unsure which area I wanted to specialise in. Dr. D.J. Stickler’s fascinating lectures and practicals on medical microbiology led me to select a microbiology degree and follow this specialism as a career.
Finally I had two excellent PhD supervisors, Prof. A.D. Russell and Dr. J.-Y. Maillard, who were hugely motivating and inspirational. These great people all been major influencers on my career.
What advice would you give to young people starting in their career in science?
Just go for it! Science is an amazing career and you will always have variety and excitement in your work as well as the opportunity to contribute towards something greater. It can be quite hard to get started, gaining the right experience and finding the right job – you may get a few knockbacks along the way. But don’t give up – it’s well worth it.