Business Skills and Commercial Awareness for Chemists

This resource was produced as part of the National HE Stem program by the University of Warwick and the University of York


Welcome to the self-study resource ‘Business Skills and Commercial Awareness for Chemists’.

The materials here are aimed at level 3 & 4 chemistry undergraduates thinking about a commercial chemistry-related career. The site may also be of interest to chemistry students who are thinking of business careers outside chemistry even though we use the specialised context of chemistry-related industries to investigate the applications of business skills and commercial awareness.

Your engagement with the resource can range from completely unsupervised browsing through to it being a fully assessed part of your course as described under "Using this resource".

The name of this resource draws attention to the difference between things it's useful to know about business (commercial awareness) and things it's important to be able to do effectively (business skills).

The areas of commercial awareness we have presented are those described under "Topics". Each topic has a general introduction and links to selected web resources to read more widely about the issues. We have included a number of video contributions from a range of industrial contacts who offer personal perspectives on what it’s useful to know about business early in your career.

When it comes to business skills, the key idea is to practise doing the things that it is important to be able to do. This resource offers some possibility for this if you engage with the exercises that are linked to each of the topics. The "Scenarios" section offers a greater challenge by putting you in the position of justifying a significant business decision. It is the way you achieve this that develops your business skills.

A useful starting point when looking into ‘business skills’ is to think a little more closely about which specific businesses and which specific skills we will primarily be targeting as chemists.

Which businesses?

Chemists find roles in a wide range of business environments, much wider than traditional destinations such as the heavy chemical industry, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The range of sizes of business spans everything from organisations with teams of chemists to others where there might be a single qualified chemist. Read about the background to the chemistry-related industries and the kinds of things professional chemists do.

Which skills?

There are some things it's useful to know about as a chemist in business and others that it’s important to be able to do effectively. Here are some opinions on each, providing a background to commercial awareness and opportunities to put key business skills in to practice. Read about the key business topics and business skills here.