"When I was asked to write for a blog about transitioning into the chemical industry from academia, my first thought was who cares what I have to say? Then I started thinking about the whole process of getting this job at Rhodia, and it dawned on me that I could have really benefited from something like this when I was making that decision.
Truth be told, I never thought I would work in industry. My plan was to try and stay in a government laboratory and maybe move on to academia later if it worked out that way.
So how did I end up here? I got offered one of the more unique jobs I've heard of, a position with the Complex Assemblies of Soft Matter (COMPASS) group at Rhodia, where the lab employees are tasked with finding 'the next big thing' for the company.
What really appealed to me is that the lab operates like a start up company living inside an established chemical company. Rhodia's HR manager explained that I would conduct unique fundamental and applied lab research, measure and analyze data, search literature and patents, carry out market research, work with outside collaborators and secure outside funding, all while keeping customers, profitability and scalability in mind.
After hearing that, I was a changed man. I was thrilled when I got the offer and took it right away.
Here at the COMPASS lab my colleagues and I really do it all. If we come up with something good, it enters Rhodia's marketing innovation pipeline, or it becomes the center piece for a start up company. If the idea falls flat, we move on to the next thing.
So, over the next few weeks I'll be documenting my experience, focusing on the transition from a pure research career path to a more business-oriented direction. I hope it's informative, enjoyable, and maybe even funny... in fact, I was already told that in my first photo on the blog I look like Elton John in a lab coat. So, on that note...enjoy!"
• Ryan Murphy joined Rhodia in December 2009 and is a senior scientist at Rhodia's Center for Research and Technology in Bristol, Pennsylvania in the US.