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Arecent work by the Boston Career paths for chemists – is

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					          ERIN WOOD

FEATURE

          Career paths for chemists – is
          management still the way up?

          Erin Wood predicts that future chemists will need a strong combination of management and
          specialist skills.



          A     recent work by the Boston
                Consulting Group, The Manager
          of the 21st Century: 2020 Vision,1
                                                         Careers Council published in 2006
                                                         indicates that 83.7% of chemistry
                                                         graduates available for work were in
                                                                                                   agement credence in the scientific
                                                                                                   community.
                                                                                                      The MBA launch by the
          identifies the potential for the future         full-time employment.2 Future             Association of Professional
          leaders of organisations to be spe-            demand is also likely to remain           Engineers, Scientists and Managers
          cialist managers, not just the gener-          strong as the employment opportu-         Australia (APESMA) has played a
          alists of recent decades. Is this the          nities for chemists are not tied to the   significant historical role in meeting
          first glimpse of a new era of recog-            well being of a single industry sector    these needs and in defining the
          nition for scientists?                         in the way that architects are tied to    importance of management edu-
              This optimistic outlook is based           the construction sector.                  cation training for engineers, sci-
          upon assessment of the nature of                  It is worth remembering that           entists and other technical profes-
          challenges and opportunities that lie          demand for chemists has not always        sionals in Australia over the last
          ahead, the importance of scientists            been so strong and that some of the       18 years. It emerged at a time when
          to meet them, and the high levels of           industries in which chemists work         there was a great demand for specific
          expertise that will be needed by the           can be cyclic. Dr Anthea Airey,           management skills training by tech-
          organisations and communities of               senior scientist at Airey Taylor          nology professionals. The APESMA
          the future. This concurs with the              Consulting, who has degrees in            MBA, which is offered by distance
          information that we regularly read in                                                    education, boasts an alumni of over
                                                         science and business, remembers
          the media about the many new chal-                                                       8000 national and international
                                                         moving industries to survive
          lenges in industry where the contri-                                                     graduates. APESMA CEO John Vines
                                                         recessions in mining and forestry.
          bution of scientists will be necessary                                                   said, ‘Our management education
                                                         This phenomenon is also evident in
          to find the right solution. Just                                                          program has changed the culture of
                                                         other technology-based professions.
          consider the challenges and opportu-                                                     the engineering and science fields
                                                         When raw chemical manufacturing
          nities for chemists in the agri-                                                         from being very technically ori-
                                                         was increasingly being sent offshore,
          cultural, food, forestry, pharma-                                                        entated professions to professions
                                                         chemical engineer John Donaldson
          ceutical, mining and other sectors.                                                      that now recognise the importance
                                                         explored new methods to develop
              For a chemist the question that                                                      of combining technical and business
                                                         his skills set to add a more business-    skills as a pathway to both man-
          naturally arises is whether future
          recognition will be as a specialist or         focused approach.                         agement roles and also providing a
          whether management is still the way            Skills positioning                        broader skill base for technical
          up. This article reinforces the rel-                                                     decision making in organisations.’
          evance of continuing professional              Airey, Donaldson and many of their
                                                         colleagues have in past decades           Technical/managerial roles
          development in both the man-
          agement and specialist spheres,                undertaken MBAs as a method of            Many roles already combine
          where the greatest strength and                gaining management skills that            technical and managerial skills.
          future benefit is derived from the              could provide more senior roles,          Some managers, such as lab
          combination of skills.                         better recognition and better careers.    managers, supervise other scientists
                                                         Donaldson wanted to ‘add to his cre-      and such roles are well known in the
          Chemists and the skills shortage               dentials’ so that he may be placed in     field. Other roles may be further
          Demand for graduate chemists is                a more stable management role.            afield, but still relevant to chemists
          strong. Research by the Graduate               Airey, who was recently presented         and may be worth considering if you
                                                         with the APESMA Latrobe MBA,              wish to broaden your skills and
          Erin Wood is Director Professional Services,   asserts that the program played a         experience.
          Association of Professional Engineers,         fundamental role in sharpening her           Operation management roles in
          Scientists and Managers, Australia.
                                                         business acumen and gave her man-         the mining, mineral processing, oil


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     refining or manufacturing industries        With the level of demand in                              Some scientists may question the
     are one example. They can draw          mining leading to full employment                       extent to which they are suited to
     upon a chemist’s technical              of graduates in fields such as mining                    take on managerial roles or the areas
     knowledge and problem-solving           engineering, it would take sub-                         of skills that they need to further
     abilities, as well as the more tradi-   stantial additional demand in other                     develop. Tools that aid personal and
     tional managerial skills such as com-   fields of science, such as chemistry,                    career orientation, skills reviews and
     munication and people management,       to start to produce technical salaries                  career planning are available to assist
     risk management, financial man-          that outweigh managerial salaries in                    scientists. Advice and assistance for
     agement, project management and         these fields in the short term.                          these tools is available through
     so on. The latter skills are signifi-                                                            APESMA’s specialist career coaches.
                                             Career success – skills, but also
     cantly aided by management edu-                                                                 It is essential to do what you enjoy
                                             your own orientation
     cation, such as via an MBA.                                                                     to have a meaningful career.
                                             Managerial roles are still highly                           A final observation from an
     Recognition                                                                                     external vantage point – don’t lose
                                             recognised and are likely to remain
     According to the 2007                   so in the future, so the combination                    your science; we need your ideas
     APESMA/FASTS Professional               of technical and management skills                      and ingenuity to meet future chal-
     Scientist Remuneration Survey           will enhance careers. Future man-                       lenges. But make sure that your
     Report,3 levels of responsibility       agement responsibilities such as                        career in science also works for you.
     continue to be a strong indicator of    those for risk, finances and people                      References
     salaries paid. Management salaries      are unlikely to become less onerous
     paid continue to outflank other job      and will continue to affect us in all                   1 Nicholson J., Nairn A. The Manager of
     functions across the sciences except    our activities. In addition, it is                        the 21st Century: 2020 Vision, a report
     for in mining (exploration). Overall    usually the soft skills such as the                       by the Boston Consulting Group for
     the combination of the specialist and   communication skills that make the                        Innovation and Business Skills
     managerial/business skills continues    difference in recruitment, where                          Australia 2006. Sydney, Australia.
     to be the winning combination.          technical skills are to an equal                        2 Graduate Careers Australia. GradStats
        The variation in salary              minimum standard. So it is essential                      Number 11, December 2006.
                                                                                                     3 Association of Professional Engineers,
     movements by industry sector            to continue to invest in non-
                                                                                                       Scientists and Managers Australia.
     reflects the levels of demand, where     technical skill development, even if
                                                                                                       APESMA/FASTS Professional Scientist
     again mining is winning through,        you are not going to be a manager.
                                                                                                       Remuneration Survey Report, 2007.
     with median scientist remuneration         Career success and satisfaction
                                                                                                       Melbourne, Australia.
     increasing by 6.6% p.a. The next        are enhanced by pursuing strengths
     highest performing industries were      and interests in the right type of                      The APESMA MBA is delivered by
     consulting and technical services at    work environment. Whilst                                Chifley Business School and further
     5.5% and pharmaceutical/cosmetic at     strengthening managerial skills is                      information is available at
     5.4%. Median levels of pay received     useful, some are more likely to excel                   www.chifley.edu.au. Additional infor-
     by chemists in 2007 increased by        and be satisfied in more strongly                        mation on APESMA is available at
     4.3%.                                   technical roles.                                        www.apesma.asn.au




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Description: Arecent work by the Boston Career paths for chemists – is