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Meet the Faces

Photo of Angela Janousek

Careers

MEET ANGELA JANOUSEK, AN INDUSTRIAL CHEMIST WHO APPLIES HER KNOWLEDGE OF CHEMISTRY, SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING TO THE MANUFACTURE OF COSMETICS IN LARGE QUANTITIES.

What is your job title and what are the main characteristics of your day-to-day work?

I am a Director of Industrial Chemistry. I need to ensure that whatever product the research and development (R&D) department develops will be successfully industrialised on a factory scale. In other words a small sample of product, it could be as small as a beaker measure of 100ml, has to be scaled up to many tons of product being made in large vessels with automatic processes such as stirring and filling into individual products. It is a kind of chemical engineering job really and it can be quite technical and challenging.

"A small sample of product has to be scaled up to many tons of product."

What area of science (if any) do you use in your current job?

Its mainly organic and inorganic chemistry but also I have to understand biochemistry and biology because I am also responsible for the safety of the product. I need to have an understanding of physiology, physical chemistry, physics of colour and a little bit of engineering for the production side of things.

Do you work in a specific department – if yes, is there a mix of speciality staff?

Yes, it’s a mix of specialities, but the department is mainly a mixture of chemists , chemical engineers and laboratory technicians.

What other departments/professions do you work with e.g. production, marketing, sales?

On a day-to-day basis I work with the Marketing and R&D departments. I also work with sales, helping them deal with customer enquiries, and with the regulatory / legislation department. It’s a big job, but luckily I have the support of 27 people working for me!

What made you choose your current job and why in the cosmetics industry?

First of all, people (especially young people), should know that you don’t choose your job in a modern environment, you are ‘selected’ for the job – unfortunately. But I chose to work in this area because it’s a very attractive and interesting industry developing products people use daily.

"If you like applied science, this is ideal."

If you like applied science, this is ideal. It’s much more interesting than pure research, at least for me. The scientific knowledge you have acquired actually gets translated into a product that is sold in shops. Consumer products is a very interesting field for somebody who is creative. If you like mechanics and engineering its also exciting.

I think its important to emphasise you don’t ‘choose’ your career. If there is an opportunity you go for the opportunity. That opportunity might involve you being able to increase your knowledge – try something new, or you may want to move towards something because there is more money or more management responsibility in it for you. It’s a little bit of a myth that you "choose" your career.

What are the most exciting aspects of what you do?

The most exciting aspect is to see your product in the market place, in a chemist or a perfumery store, and you know somewhere along the way you had a lot to do with it.

Also, I like the feeling of success when you have tackled and cracked a challenge!

Is there anything you don’t really enjoy in your day-to-day work?

There can be a lot of bureaucracy in the job. There can also be a lot of pressure, sometimes too much.

"When you want somebody to spend half a million pounds on a new machine, or some equipment, you have to communicate well."

Are there any specific skills that are essential to have in the job you do?

The most important skill in my job is communication. You have to be very good at convincing people to do things for you, and also accepting the way you want to do it. For example, when you have a new product in development and it is not exactly to the requirements outlined, you need to be able to discuss with the marketing team that it is going to be acceptable to the consumer. It’s a lot to do with communication. Also sometimes there is a need to persuade the more senior management to make a necessary investment. When you want somebody to spend half a million pounds on a new machine, or some equipment, you have to communicate well and present the request clearly.

Could someone come into your job straight from school? What skills/qualifications would they need?

No, but you can work yourself up. In my department I have a lot of people who have come straight from school. If they show talent they can receive further training on the job – even going to university. So you can get there, it takes a few years - but it’s absolutely worth it. I feel that at my age, even after 30 odd years in the industry, I would not change careers. That’s quite unusual, but it really is true. So, yes, it is worth sticking with it.

Your attitude to your work can offer more opportunities. If you love what you do, and do your best, you can be invited to represent your company or profession beyond the day-to-day activities. For example, you can become involved in industry issues through sitting on committees. This can also mean travelling around the world, meeting colleagues from other companies and sharing positions and ideas. I have been the President of the IFSCC (International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists) – so you can get elected right to the top jobs. You can also be an Ambassador for the education and dissemination of science and cosmetics knowledge.

Did you receive any special training either before or during your first year of working in your current role?

I took various courses on surfactants and other specialist course subjects. I also did a postgraduate diploma in cosmetic science. Management and finance courses helped me a great deal to progress my career from a bench chemist to a Director.

I am also very pleased I did these additional courses as they not only gave me the necessary knowledge I needed – but also immediate confidence. It can be very formidable for a graduate or young school leaver to come into an industry. It feels as though everybody knows everything and that can make you feel stupid – but it’s not the case.

"You don't choose your job in a modern environment, you are 'selected' for the job."

Did your previous job prepare you for this one?

I’ve been through every possible job in cosmetics over the years, but you aways learn throughout your life, so any previous jobs will give new knowledge and confidence that contributes to the next job. If, for example, you have been in some very different jobs over your career, it helps to understand different people’s perspectives and communicate better.

Is there anything you wished you had studied or done differently when you were younger?

Not really, although I wish I had done a PhD. It would have probably helped me to develop my career faster.

At school what did you think you would do for a living? For instance, did you envisage your sciences being used in the cosmetics industry?

I had no idea when I was at school that I wanted to be a cosmetic scientist. I knew I wanted to do chemistry, that’s all. I am so pleased I discovered this area of chemistry – it has become very important to me that cosmetic chemistry involves fashion - I like trends and fashion, colour and progress.

What subjects are you glad you studied? Were there any that were not immediately obvious as useful to your career but now are proving helpful, e.g. languages?

"Even after 30 odd years in the industry, I would not change careers"

When I studied I wasn’t a particularly good student, I studied pure chemistry, which was theoretical. I struggled but finished it. But I am so pleased that I qualified because it gave me the opportunity to have the jobs that I have had.

Having said that – you could get a little bored, or frustrated if you are a highly ‘academic’ scientist in a job like mine because applied science involves a different type of speed and excitement than pure science. For example, you don’t have to be brilliant in optical fibres (or whatever), but you have to have a general understanding of science and be very quick.

With your skills and qualifications, what do you hope to achieve next in your career?

I am just starting a new career at 60 years old! I’m moving to Monaco, and I will be responsible for the compatibility testing of products made by my company in Europe. It shows there are opportunities to move around in many diverse areas throughout your career.

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