Maria (large commercial company)

S Research Graduate from the department of Animal & Microbial Sciences, Maria works in the Research Division of a multinational agrochemical company as an Ecological Risk Assessor and has been in the job for three years.

Her responsibilities are to provide scientific information and risk assessment for new products and regulatory compliance. This involves collating, analysing and reporting on data from a variety of research sources as well as attending many meetings. She supervises two PhD students and a Post-Doctoral researcher.

Maria has to use analytical, time management and interpersonal skills in her job. She also needs to be well organised, able to negotiate and persuade and a good conceptual thinker.

Job search

This is Maria's third job with this company. Her first was after she had completed a Masters qualification.

First job

  • Targeted speculative letters
  • Identified agrochemical companies and biological research organisations from directories

Second job

  • Personal contact - offered short term contract to cover maternity leave in PhD sponsoring company

Present job

  • Career management workshop - identified skills, personal qualities and life style/value preferences
  • Internal vacancy information - information gained on the workshop enabled her to prepare a well targeted application
  • Also used New Scientist to search for vacancies.


  • Speculative letter - prior to PhD research. This brought only one positive response, but that is all it takes
  • Responding to an advertisement - in Maria's case, she was informed of the vacancy internally, but was competing with both internal and external candidates. She submitted a CV. (60 applications, 8 interviewees, 2 posts)

Keys to success

  • Relevant knowledge
  • Ability to learn demonstrated through PhD project and having learned to speak and write English
  • Good communication skills
  • Commitment

Benefits of PhD

  • Gained knowledge of molecular biological techniques
  • Presentation skills
  • Writing skills
  • Opportunity to improve knowledge of English
  • Developed self confidence
  • Developed independence

In retrospect Maria would have liked to have done her PhD in a University rather than a company environment because she felt she missed out on the cultural mix and stimulation of the University environment.

Future options

  • Expansion of department which could bring increased managerial responsibilities
  • Move to regulatory work
  • Possible move to another commercial company

She does not wish to return to laboratory research.

Things to do now

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    Carrington Building
    Reading RG6 6UA
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    +44 (0)118 378 8359

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