Making the transition into teaching;
What did you do before training to teach?
I was a laboratory chemist performing research for a range of pharmaceutical, petrochemical and biotechnology companies. This involved line, project and laboratory management, Healthy & Safety and staff development responsibilities.
What inspired you to get into teaching?
I enjoyed the training and staff development aspect of my role, gaining the greatest job satisfaction when I saw my reports succeed or high performing teams emerge. I enjoyed my career, but I felt that I needed a career with more security. It has been great to find that there is support available to make the transition.
Incidentally, my career as a chemist, like many of my colleagues, was sparked by a teacher. In my case, my GCSE chemistry teacher Mr Curry, a mature ex‑industrial chemist in his first year of teaching. I suspect he still had a lot to learn but he certainly inspired me; he kicked started my career when he asked me to do some extra experiments after school.
Which skills can you bring to teaching from your previous career?
I have 20 years’ experience as a synthetic chemist and have worked on a diverse number of projects. This means I can demonstrate experimental techniques, bringing relevance to many of the topics & talk from personal experience. I have also been involved in project, line and laboratory management where I have developed many transferable skills including good communication from oral presentations, representing the company at a national symposium & career events, and working with people from a diverse number of disciplines.
I also have experience in managing, mentoring and coaching staff, in building and leading teams, and in giving training sessions on technical procedures and management topics. I was often involved in recruitment and can assist students wishing to discuss careers or asking for advice on job and UCAS applications. I have also developed a number of time management strategies which are invaluable for the classroom.
As you move into teaching, what are you most excited about?
I’m excited about engaging with my students, meeting new people and continuing to learn new skills, and giving a few demonstrations - including the reaction of sodium with water!
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I’m open-minded regarding career aspirations; initially, I am looking to gain a broad set of experiences within the education system. I have been involved in management before and I hope there will be opportunities to continue with management in the future. I particularly enjoyed mentoring new managers and have a background in research so working with the PGCE providers or further study for a masters may suit me if the opportunities arise.