It’s likely that you have used one of the many household names that Laura has helped to formulate and develop, spanning pharmaceuticals, washing detergents and toiletries. She now heads up the technical department at Talk Town Polish Co, known for its silver and jewellery cleaning products.
“I look after the lab and everything in the bottle - the chemistry of the products,” explains Laura. “As well as the constant desire to always make the products perform better, ever changing regulations mean that a lot of my time is taken up ensuring that our products maintain global compliance, reformulating them when necessary. There’s a lot of artistry when it comes to building the perfect formula for the job. You can’t just take one thing out and put another one in – it's just not that simple. There may be compatibility issues with the other ingredients or even something as simple as a slight pH change can result in instability, undesirable properties or impact the whole cleaning profile.”
With 50 formulas to manage, Laura certainly has her work cut out, and as the only person in her company with a chemistry background, there are times when she has felt isolated.
“When I first joined the business I did feel quite alone without science colleagues to bounce ideas off. It’s hard being a lone science voice in a non-science world! I had no access to research, regulation updates or the latest chemistry news. That’s when I decided to get in touch with the RSC. I just wish I’d done it sooner!”
An RSC membership not only gave Laura access to a wealth of knowledge and industry updates pertinent to her role, it also opened up a whole community of chemists for her to interact with.
“I'm fascinated in speaking to new people and there are such a great variety of people to meet at the RSC events. I am often surprised that they are equally as fascinated in what I do. It’s a lovely atmosphere, and not at all as overwhelming or scary as you might think.”
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Feeling inspired, Laura realised that there were further opportunities to enhance her own career with support from the RSC, one of which was attaining Chartered Chemist (CChem).
As a working mum, I had taken my foot off the gas a bit and I wanted to push myself again. Looking at the CChem scheme I realised that I could tick off most of the required criteria and you can do it on the job, which was perfect for me.
“I’ve done a lot to develop the department so I signed up for the scheme with the intention of pulling my portfolio together. But having just returned from maternity leave with baby number two, I was struggling to find the time to make it happen. After speaking to the RSC team they said I would be the perfect candidate for an interview application, which really took the pressure off.”
Getting accredited has given Laura a new burst of confidence. “It's made me realise that I'm good at what I do and my work is valuable, I just didn’t have the self-belief. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to fully realise what you’re achieving.
“I’m now part of a new career development pilot programme. We have regular meetings and the careers team give me advice on how to keep moving forward. They've been immensely supportive and so easy to speak to.
“If you have a problem or a question, just pick up the phone and speak to the team. It will really help you, I can guarantee it. It's given me a whole new perspective and I’m already reaping the benefits.
With her motivation rekindled, Laura is set to take her passion for the chemistry of every day to great places and will likely inspire others to do the same.