September 17, 2020
by Sherry Myles, Marketing Systems Coordinator
A common chemistry principle is that when atoms combine to make a compound, energy is generated. This leaves the resulting compound with a lower overall energy, which in the chemistry world, equates to a happier state. I wanted to see if the same could be said of employee satisfaction. If a company puts effort into encouraging bonds between their employees and clients, are they left in a happier state as a result?
When I started talking to colleagues for this blog article, I admit I had a preconceived notion of some themes that might emerge. I felt camaraderie would be number one; with remote connectivity a close second (we have had remote employees for many years, but that number rose to 100% since the Covid-19 pandemic). Indeed, both of these factors were mentioned, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear the other things people had to say about working for ACD/Labs.
Opportunities for Growth
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
– Richard Branson
Growth opportunity is one of the major deciding factors for anyone considering joining a company. While ACD/Labs does not have a large org chart that outlines a prescribed career progression, in every department I found examples of people carving out their own opportunities for growth. Employees recognized an area where they wanted to apply their skills, and worked towards that goal, all with the support of their managers. Movement between teams was also common, and as a company, we recognize talent amongst our own employees and do not shy away from promoting on that basis.
When Nikki Dare was completing her PhD in Chemistry, she wasn’t aware the position of Application Scientist existed in the chemistry field. It requires someone to be well-versed in a variety of modern analytical techniques, as well as be very comfortable with software, informatics, IT systems, and scientific workflows. When she heard of a colleague gaining such employment, she thought it would be a perfect fit for her, and it combined two of her greatest interests—chemistry and software.
After learning about ACD/Labs and being hired, she progressed quickly. In just two years, Nikki has held three positions (including the title of Application Scientist), and she was recently promoted to Solutions Manager for Katalyst D2D. When asked about her employment growth within this short timeframe, Nikki said, “Because ACD/Labs is a smaller company, I have gotten a lot more experience in a very short time. No matter how high up in the company you are, your idea is treated the same as someone who has been here for a long time. You never feel ignored because of your tenure.”
Many team members have enjoyed the opportunity to move within teams and try out new positions that may be a better fit for their skills. Jessica Litman started in the Marketing Communications team, where her previous experience in digital marketing, combined with her PhD in Chemistry, were the perfect fit. One of her favorite aspects of that role was interacting with customers, but as a marketer focused on developing content, those interactions were infrequent. When an opportunity opened in our Technical Support team, she jumped at the chance to work more closely with users. Having since moved on to our Application Scientist team, she now enjoys working with customers daily to understand their needs and how ACD/Labs tools can help them achieve their goals.
Clockwise from top-left: Graham McGibbon (Director of Strategic Partnerships), Arvin Moser (Manager, Application Scientist Team), Michael Antwi (Inside Account Manager), Veronica Paget (Strategic Account Manager), Savvas Kleanthous (Enterprise Solution Project Manager), Jessica Litman (Application Scientist), and Nikki Dare (Solutions Manager, Katalyst D2D).
A Passion for Learning
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Arvin Moser, Manager of the Application Scientist team, says hiring employees who are specialists in one area of chemistry and training them in others is how his team has been successful. It is challenging to find a chemist who is an expert in all analytical techniques or has familiarity across R&D, so the team has adopted an academic atmosphere where colleagues present ideas and discuss and learn from each other collaboratively. Familiarity with new technologies and staying up to date is crucial in this role, and it has made it an exciting field for chemistry graduates to move into.
“Application Scientists are doing chemistry without having to be in a lab, with those inherent dangers,” Arvin says, with over 18 years at our company.
This sentiment is echoed by Michael Antwi, Inside Account Manager in our Sales team, who shared that his prior experience working in a lab was very structured. “You basically repeat the same tasks every day,” he states. His goal upon graduating from university had been to work for a pharmaceutical company, perhaps deploying software to be used in a lab. He wasn’t aware that our software, which he had used in school, was already used by these large pharmaceutical companies on such a broad global scale. The opportunity to learn how ACD/Labs software is applied in pharmaceutical R&D has been an eye-opening experience for him.
Graham McGibbon agrees with both Arvin and Michael. With past experience both in a laboratory at a pharmaceutical company and running his own research lab as a university professor, he knew his preference was to work in a corporate environment. His prior education and experience had given him the expert mass spectrometry knowledge necessary for his initial position as MS Product Manager. It was ACD/Labs, though, that taught him how to be an effective product manager on the job.
“ACD/Labs is a valuable consultancy because of the people who have very interesting diversity and depth of experience,” he says. As our Director of Strategic Partnerships, he can attest that, “We speak with world experts on a daily basis, giving them our time and in turn having them devote a portion of their time to speak with us.” It is a unique opportunity to connect with the leading edge of the chemistry field and helps him to “stay motivated and engaged in doing something that actually makes a difference in the world.”
One of the major factors that keeps Savvas Kleanthous happy in his position as Enterprise Solution Project Manager is that the work is constantly changing. “There are always new challenges, and while you have to balance them with tasks that are consistent and straightforward, this keeps it interesting,” he explains. The new products that ACD/Labs brought to market in recent years have generated a lot of excitement among the team. Katalyst D2D and Luminata, in particular, are pushing the boundaries of chemistry in the fields of high-throughput experimentation, and data digitalization and assembly in support of decision-making for CMC.
Finding Your Balance
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.”
– Hillary Clinton
Striking a balance between work and home life is an important job-satisfaction criterion for most of us. Veronica Paget started as a part-time Account Manager with our UK Sales team when her children were still young. As they got older, she transitioned to a full-time Account Manager but has always worked from home. That flexibility both allows her to travel to visit customers more easily (when possible to do so) and maintain a home life without the pressures of an office commute.
“The company is very forward looking and ever changing. There are always new things to learn and new challenges to face. It has provided a flexible working environment that has allowed me to keep a good work life balance,” she says.
Savvas agrees with her. “In online video chats and phone calls, people share more about their personal lives and emotions quite quickly, because everyone is looking for a connection,” he offers. He says he learned more about people at ACD/Labs in a few weeks than he learned about those at past companies over a few years.
ACD/Labs has always encouraged collaboration through online tools, and in the past held company-wide in-person gatherings every 2-3 years, more often for smaller subsets of teams, to further strengthen personal relationships. With in-person meetings not being possible through most of 2020, we have embraced the Zoom culture to connect with both the scientific community and our colleagues. We have engaged with thousands of scientists this year through virtual events, webinars, and online training sessions but also enjoyed socializing together through internal “coffee time” chats and the Friday evening “cocktail hour”. These meetings have helped the team around the world stay connected.
As a long time ACD/Labs employee myself, I share the sentiments expressed by my colleagues. I think it’s true to say that working at ACD/Labs and being able to support R&D organizations in leading-edge science and innovations has put us in a happier state, and breaking these bonds will require substantial energy.