Explore: Engineering

Applications Manager
Johnson Matthey

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Vanessa W

00:00:03 I’m Vanessa W, my current job is Applications Manager for Johnson Matthey. And my job entails basically supervising and organising resource to manufacture diesel catalysts. Diesel catalysts are inside diesel cars, they’re fitted in the exhaust system, and change basically anything that’s bad in the exhaust into something that’s not harmful for the atmosphere.

00:00:24 At University I chose to study Chemical Engineering. It was a choice that I made quite early on in school. And then from that I found the job at Johnson Matthey basically, within three months of graduating, so – mostly because it was quite local, actually that was quite a lucky choice in the end.

00:00:40 I’ve had varied roles since I’ve been here actually, I’ve been very lucky. I started as just a Technician, hand – hand-producing parts basically. From there I went into scheduling. Third year I went and started as a Development Engineer. And last year I was promoted to Applications Manager. So my first management position, very exciting, but now I have 170 people reporting to me, so much bigger challenge but yeah, that’s basically my Johnson Matthey career.

00:01:10 The reason I was interested – or the reason I got interested in Science, was because I went to a good school between the ages of about 10 and 13, and my teachers at that school were fantastic. They really loved their sciences themselves. So that was fantastic and we – we learnt a lot. But really the one teacher – gosh, I can’t even remember her name – that I do remember, was my Maths teacher. And she made learning Maths really – really quite fun.

00:01:36 It was suggested by one of my careers advisers that Chemical Engineering might be a good idea. I decided that would be the best way to go – with probably quite heavy influence from my parents at that time, saying – it’s a good path, it’s very reliable, steady, etcetera. All of those sort of things. So yeah, got right into the Sciences. I actually wanted to be a vet. I worked in the Zoo, and I worked at the vet’s, but decided it wasn’t really for me.

00:02:01 The best part of my position is motivating and working with other people, it’s the thing that I enjoy most about what I do. The low points are – to maintain a work/life balance is really quite difficult, sometimes. You get fully involved with work. I exercise quite a lot, energy levels are quite important when you’re working 12 hour days, so I go to the gym, and I swim. One thing I did recently actually – rally driving. And that was the best thing that I’ve done in a long, long time.

00:02:29 The biggest turning point in my career at Johnson Matthey was definitely when I chose to become a Team Leader. Having five people working for me really opened my eyes to a completely – a completely different set of priorities, and that definitely showed me that the leadership development side of things is something that I really enjoy. So that was – that was the biggest turning point.

00:02:50 I’m hoping I’ll still progress. I know it won’t be as quickly as I have in the last eight years. Definitely in the next one to two years I want to be a fully-fledged Production Manager and then – who knows? I don’t have a specific plan, but Johnson Matthey’s an international company, so hopefully I’ll be able to use my skills elsewhere, and see some different countries.

00:03:11 I like to think that the people that have worked for me will remember me as a good boss, and a fair boss. Yeah, I believe if you’re enjoying something that – anything that you’re doing, you’ll put your best and your all into it. So work doesn’t have to be completely serious all the time. You have to be professional, but yeah, about enjoying what you do as well and understanding what you do and the difference that it can make. So yeah, I’d like people to remember me for making a difference to their lives, I suppose.

00:03:38 ENDS

Vanessa W is an Applications Manager in a Johnson Matthey factory manufacturing diesel catalysts. She had fantastic maths and science teachers at school and was inspired by them to head into a career in chemical engineering. That’s how she came to Johnson Matthey, but after a few years she discovered that her real vocation was management. She now has 170 people reporting to her and hopes to move on to even more responsible jobs in the future. “I don’t have a specific plan, but Johnson Matthey’s an international company, so hopefully I’ll be able to use my skills elsewhere, and see some different countries.”

More information about Chemical scientists

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

78%  male 
22%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Chemical scientists analyse and research physical aspects of chemical structure and change within substances and develop chemical techniques used in the manufacture or modification of natural substances and processed products.
Entrants usually possess a degree. Entry may also be possible with an appropriate BTEC/SQA award, an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III, or other academic qualifications. Further specialist training is provided on the job. Some employers may expect entrants to gain professional qualifications.
  • Develops experimental procedures, instruments and recording and testing systems;
  • Conducts experiments to identify chemical composition, energy and chemical changes in natural substances and processed materials;
  • Analyses results and experimental data;
  • Tests techniques and processes for reliability under a variety of conditions;
  • Develops procedures for quality control of manufactured products.
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Other professional 1004
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