Beyond Your Research Degree

Episode 9 - Dr. Celia Butler, Senior Applications Engineer at Synopsys Inc

October 27, 2020

Welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast from the University of Exeter Doctoral College! The podcast about non-academic careers and all the opportunities available to you... beyond your research degree!  In this episode Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Manager talks to Dr. Celia Butler, Senior Applications Engineer at Synopsys Inc.

 

Music from https://filmmusic.io ’Cheery Monday’ by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) License: CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses

 

Podcast transcript

 

1
00:00:10,870 --> 00:00:23,530
Hello and welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast by the University of Exeter, Doctoral College
 
2
00:00:23,530 --> 00:00:27,580
Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Beyond Your Research Degree.
 
3
00:00:27,580 --> 00:00:34,570
I'm Kelly Preevce And today, I'll be talking to Dr Celia Butler, who is currently senior applications engineer at Synopsis,
 
4
00:00:34,570 --> 00:00:41,380
having graduated with her PhD in physics in 2012. Celia, you happy to introduce yourself?
 
5
00:00:41,380 --> 00:00:53,080
Hello, my name's Celia Butler and I did my PhD in Microwave Metamaterials in the electro magnetic materials group at the University of Exeter
 
6
00:00:53,080 --> 00:00:58,870
which is part of the physics department or it was at the time. And now I work for synopsis
 
7
00:00:58,870 --> 00:01:03,740
I'm a senior applications engineer with the simplewear support team.
 
8
00:01:03,740 --> 00:01:14,370
And what I do is I provide support for a software package that allows you to take 3D image data and like scans from MRI,
 
9
00:01:14,370 --> 00:01:24,670
and CT and turn it into a computer model and you can do all sorts of things with that computer model from 3D printing to finite
 
10
00:01:24,670 --> 00:01:34,030
element analysis all the way through to just simple visualisations to learn something about that data that you're inspecting.
 
11
00:01:34,030 --> 00:01:42,490
Amazing. So can you tell me a little bit about the transition from doing your research degree into the current role?
 
12
00:01:42,490 --> 00:01:50,050
Did you have any were there any jobs that you took in between or was it a straight move?
 
13
00:01:50,050 --> 00:01:59,860
Yes. So when I left my PhD, I actually went into a job which sort of spanned the gap between academia and industry.
 
14
00:01:59,860 --> 00:02:10,510
So officially, it was a postdoc role, but I was actually more of a research and development engineer with a pre-spin out company.
 
15
00:02:10,510 --> 00:02:15,760
So it was still part of the university and it took on a role.
 
16
00:02:15,760 --> 00:02:20,120
kind of like a technical consultancy?
 
17
00:02:20,120 --> 00:02:30,610
So like an R&D consultancy role. And my specific area was to look at improving radio frequency identification tagging.
 
18
00:02:30,610 --> 00:02:38,690
So RFID tagging is now quite popular, popular. You see it all over the place in tags, in clothes shops.
 
19
00:02:38,690 --> 00:02:44,440
RFID tags are embedded into shoes. When you buy them all sorts of things.
 
20
00:02:44,440 --> 00:02:50,860
But the specific area that I was looking at was how to tag structures that have a lot of
 
21
00:02:50,860 --> 00:02:56,320
metal in them because essentially they're an antenna and when you place them on metal,
 
22
00:02:56,320 --> 00:03:02,290
they don't work very well. And I was looking at tagging RFID circuit boards.
 
23
00:03:02,290 --> 00:03:08,890
So these circuit boards have very high value and you really try to understand what you can do.
 
24
00:03:08,890 --> 00:03:16,420
So I worked with a few different people locally to try and address this problem,
 
25
00:03:16,420 --> 00:03:22,490
using some of the knowledge from my PhD, but also past experience from before that as well.
 
26
00:03:22,490 --> 00:03:32,320
And after that role, I left it and started a new position for a company called Subten Systems.
 
27
00:03:32,320 --> 00:03:40,660
Now, this was a very small Start-Up company, possibly the best and most exciting research I have ever done.
 
28
00:03:40,660 --> 00:03:46,480
It was looking to create wireless Ethernet bridges.
 
29
00:03:46,480 --> 00:03:52,780
What that means is point to point, a transmission of data, at very, very high frequencies.
 
30
00:03:52,780 --> 00:04:03,910
So in the millimetre wave region. And this was so exciting because I was quite new to the R&D world and I was given a lot of responsibility,
 
31
00:04:03,910 --> 00:04:08,770
but also worked in an amazing team and we just got things done.
 
32
00:04:08,770 --> 00:04:15,910
It was fantastic. But unfortunately, like a lot of start-ups, it didn't make it.
 
33
00:04:15,910 --> 00:04:22,800
And I had to make the decision to leave. Possibly the hardest decision of my life.
 
34
00:04:22,800 --> 00:04:28,390
But yes. So I left subten systems and that fantastic team.
 
35
00:04:28,390 --> 00:04:33,460
And then I found a job in the centre of Exeter working for at the time, simplewear
 
36
00:04:33,460 --> 00:04:42,580
which were, again, a small company, not really a Start-Up, but about 30, 40 people.
 
37
00:04:42,580 --> 00:04:49,060
And from there. This company was bought out by synopsis.
 
38
00:04:49,060 --> 00:04:54,660
But my job role has stayed pretty consistent. Most of the way through.
 
39
00:04:54,660 --> 00:05:09,100
And I actually I'm able to use a lot of my experience from my career, but also interests outside of work to perform my job, which is it's just a.
 
40
00:05:09,100 --> 00:05:13,810
Varied and keeps me on my toes most of the time.
 
41
00:05:13,810 --> 00:05:20,610
That sounds amazing. And in a short space of time, you've worked in quite a lot of different.
 
42
00:05:20,610 --> 00:05:30,280
Different organisations. So what was it like making that transition from your phd into a.
 
43
00:05:30,280 --> 00:05:40,560
Non-academic Role did. Did you always know you wanted a job outside of academia and doing research in industry or so?
 
44
00:05:40,560 --> 00:05:51,050
I think when I did my PhD, I really enjoyed my time doing the research element before I did my PhD.
 
45
00:05:51,050 --> 00:05:53,390
I worked in industry for a few years.
 
46
00:05:53,390 --> 00:06:03,630
So I was very aware of what it was like to work in a team doing commercial R&D as opposed to quite academic research.
 
47
00:06:03,630 --> 00:06:11,390
And it is very different. And I preferred the industrial research, the kind of work.
 
48
00:06:11,390 --> 00:06:16,610
Working towards one product or one specific goal,
 
49
00:06:16,610 --> 00:06:24,680
but also having the flexibility to change projects or move into different roles within the same organisation.
 
50
00:06:24,680 --> 00:06:33,950
Whereas in a PhD, you're very focussed on your path, your route to completing whatever your project might be.
 
51
00:06:33,950 --> 00:06:35,960
I didn't find the transition very hard.
 
52
00:06:35,960 --> 00:06:46,520
Moving from academic research to sort of industrial R&D, I think, because it's something that I knew and I was comfortable with.
 
53
00:06:46,520 --> 00:06:58,220
I was looking forward to moving back. I also had very good kind of time management skills during the PhD.
 
54
00:06:58,220 --> 00:07:03,680
I viewed it more as a day to day job because of my past experience.
 
55
00:07:03,680 --> 00:07:08,660
There is one exception for that, which was when I was writing up.
 
56
00:07:08,660 --> 00:07:15,080
When I wrote up, the time really went out the window. I was just working all the time, it seemed.
 
57
00:07:15,080 --> 00:07:19,850
But after that, I was really able to relax into that role,
 
58
00:07:19,850 --> 00:07:27,080
to work with lots and lots of different people and to really focus on a product, which is what we were aiming for.
 
59
00:07:27,080 --> 00:07:29,720
So, yeah, that worked really well for me. So, yeah.
 
60
00:07:29,720 --> 00:07:38,030
Can you say a little bit more about what it what it is about doing R&D work in industry that you prefer to academia.
 
61
00:07:38,030 --> 00:07:48,200
Is it that kind of. Is it something to do with the pace. Is it the pace of it or is it the kind of clearer sense of product, and impact.
 
62
00:07:48,200 --> 00:07:57,200
So I think industrial R&D has a clear focus, a clear aim.
 
63
00:07:57,200 --> 00:08:09,860
But people work slightly differently. In my experience in commercial R&D compared to academic R&D or academic research, in academic research,
 
64
00:08:09,860 --> 00:08:21,890
you are striving to understand every single little part of whatever your problem or area might be in commercial R&D,
 
65
00:08:21,890 --> 00:08:28,430
although you need to understand what's going on. There's a limit to how much detail you need to go into.
 
66
00:08:28,430 --> 00:08:38,300
You need to be able to solve the problem. But you are working towards a different goal and that goal will come to an end and it will change.
 
67
00:08:38,300 --> 00:08:44,150
There will be a second level, another stage or something that you are building on.
 
68
00:08:44,150 --> 00:08:51,560
You need to understand this area. Make a decision. Produce a product, whatever that might be, and then you move on.
 
69
00:08:51,560 --> 00:08:55,820
It's also quite normal to have multiple projects going on at the same time.
 
70
00:08:55,820 --> 00:09:10,100
And for me, I need that that ability to be able to switch between projects to keep me fully invested and sort of just enjoying what I do.
 
71
00:09:10,100 --> 00:09:14,510
I need lots of little things to dip in and out of just to keep me entertained.
 
72
00:09:14,510 --> 00:09:19,830
I guess. Yes, I absolutely know that feeling.
 
73
00:09:19,830 --> 00:09:30,870
So you said about the time management skills that you developed during your PhD and how important they are to what you do now.
 
74
00:09:30,870 --> 00:09:34,950
And certainly if you're working in lots of different projects, I can really see that.
 
75
00:09:34,950 --> 00:09:44,730
What other skills and experiences have you taken from your PhD that have really helped you with an R&D role in industry?
 
76
00:09:44,730 --> 00:09:52,590
I think the biggest thing that I learnt during the PhD, as opposed to other roles I've been in before,
 
77
00:09:52,590 --> 00:10:01,110
was to be able to take a big project and be able to divide it up into small chunks that seem more manageable,
 
78
00:10:01,110 --> 00:10:06,840
because I think when you start the PhD, it can be a little bit overwhelming because you've got this three,
 
79
00:10:06,840 --> 00:10:12,290
four years plus and you've got to produce something at the end of it.
 
80
00:10:12,290 --> 00:10:14,160
But I'm not really sure what that is.
 
81
00:10:14,160 --> 00:10:28,980
So to be able to take that huge idea, chop it up and then manage yourself to be able to to achieve whatever that might be is really important.
 
82
00:10:28,980 --> 00:10:34,980
And then the other thing, the sort of skills that I learnt.
 
83
00:10:34,980 --> 00:10:43,800
I did a course on how to read sounds ridiculous, but how to speed read, how to take academic papers and top and tail.
 
84
00:10:43,800 --> 00:10:49,710
And that's been really useful in other projects that I've done because in industrial research,
 
85
00:10:49,710 --> 00:10:55,260
you haven't got loads of time to do a full literature review on most projects.
 
86
00:10:55,260 --> 00:11:04,260
You need to extract the information that you need. Put it together and then use it in whatever form that might be.
 
87
00:11:04,260 --> 00:11:10,380
The other thing I think was really important is how to present robustly.
 
88
00:11:10,380 --> 00:11:17,150
So I've never really had a problem with the actual presenting side of things.
 
89
00:11:17,150 --> 00:11:24,390
But the questioning was something that was sort of really drilled into me during my PhD
 
90
00:11:24,390 --> 00:11:26,640
That you need to know your subject well enough.
 
91
00:11:26,640 --> 00:11:35,100
You need to have done your research to be able to answer questions robustly and kind of stand up to someone standing up and saying,
 
92
00:11:35,100 --> 00:11:39,270
oh, I'm not I'm not sure about this. Tell me more or I don't believe that.
 
93
00:11:39,270 --> 00:11:48,720
What's your evidence for it? And to be able to stand there and and defend the research that you've done and to present a reasoned argument.
 
94
00:11:48,720 --> 00:11:52,890
And I think that was probably the biggest thing to take away.
 
95
00:11:52,890 --> 00:12:04,720
Yeah. So really, it it's project management. It's. Ability to read and synthesise information and presenting.
 
96
00:12:04,720 --> 00:12:14,920
Yes, it's kind of a soft skills. I mean, obviously I learnt a lot of physics in my actual PhD
 
97
00:12:14,920 --> 00:12:19,360
But I wouldn't say that I've applied much of that in my other roles.
 
98
00:12:19,360 --> 00:12:25,240
It's more being those kind of soft skills that have been the most useful.
 
99
00:12:25,240 --> 00:12:31,540
Yeah. And I think that's that's always what's really interesting about looking at careers beyond academia,
 
100
00:12:31,540 --> 00:12:34,510
because I think we get really entrenched in this idea that I.
 
101
00:12:34,510 --> 00:12:43,480
I need to be looking at something that's very specific to the very niche topic area I am working in, whereas actually.
 
102
00:12:43,480 --> 00:12:50,650
When people are going to work in industry, that they're more using the working in the general subject area in some shape or form.
 
103
00:12:50,650 --> 00:12:57,670
But it's those soft skills that become even more important because they're the ones that are transferable.
 
104
00:12:57,670 --> 00:13:07,060
Absolutely. And I can give you an example of that. So. Right. One of the first things that I did when I joined Simplewear
 
105
00:13:07,060 --> 00:13:17,040
whereas it was then now synopsis was I had a Web meeting with someone who is using this software and they were doing knee replacement.
 
106
00:13:17,040 --> 00:13:31,600
And now my PhD is a microwave metamaterials. I'm looking at electromagnetic interaction with materials and it has nothing to do with knees.
 
107
00:13:31,600 --> 00:13:40,180
So very quickly, I have to understand the different parts that need to put the bones are called some of the key muscles or tendons.
 
108
00:13:40,180 --> 00:13:48,280
I had to understand how you perform in knee replacement so that I was roughly on the same level so that
 
109
00:13:48,280 --> 00:13:54,610
we could talk in similar terms because there are terms that are specific to different industries.
 
110
00:13:54,610 --> 00:14:02,500
So I had to come up to speed very fast on all of that and then understand how this particular
 
111
00:14:02,500 --> 00:14:08,800
customer wanted to use the software and what what the challenges were that they were facing.
 
112
00:14:08,800 --> 00:14:16,270
And then I had to take all of that presented back to them in a Web meeting in under an hour.
 
113
00:14:16,270 --> 00:14:21,460
So very quickly, you're having to take a problem.
 
114
00:14:21,460 --> 00:14:32,300
Understand it. Do your research. Kind of problem solve along the way and then present it back and answer questions all in one.
 
115
00:14:32,300 --> 00:14:39,370
So I think that would take about maybe between one and two days to complete the whole project.
 
116
00:14:39,370 --> 00:14:48,550
But at the same time, I had three or four other projects and sort of mini projects like that that I'd have to answer as well.
 
117
00:14:48,550 --> 00:14:53,200
And meetings and emails and all these other things. So it's really a bit of a juggling act.
 
118
00:14:53,200 --> 00:15:01,420
But you've got to focus on each problem, solve it, and then present it back to your customer and make sure that they're happy with that solution.
 
119
00:15:01,420 --> 00:15:09,670
Make sure that you have understood and solved whatever they're looking to work towards and make sure that it fits for them.
 
120
00:15:09,670 --> 00:15:14,340
So it it's quite a quite large challenge, but it's really fun.
 
121
00:15:14,340 --> 00:15:19,130
Yeah, and I think that there seems to be something there that's really about problem solving,
 
122
00:15:19,130 --> 00:15:28,410
but using your research skills and your creativity in finding solutions to your work problems.
 
123
00:15:28,410 --> 00:15:34,710
And I think you draw on all your past experience in order to do that Problem-Solving.
 
124
00:15:34,710 --> 00:15:39,450
So in before I started the PhD, I worked in manufacturing.
 
125
00:15:39,450 --> 00:15:47,970
So there are lots of things that I learnt in terms of tolerances, in terms of manufacturing processes.
 
126
00:15:47,970 --> 00:15:57,030
So when I work with someone who's using additive manufacturing, I can relate to certain areas there as well.
 
127
00:15:57,030 --> 00:16:01,930
And I bring that experience to help me to solve that.
 
128
00:16:01,930 --> 00:16:06,030
So, yeah, there's lots of different areas that kind of draw together.
 
129
00:16:06,030 --> 00:16:15,550
But the PhD brings a skill set of tackling a very large project and helping you to form it all together.
 
130
00:16:15,550 --> 00:16:24,480
One of the things people get. We get feedback that our researchers are quite nervous about is the application process for.
 
131
00:16:24,480 --> 00:16:34,830
Jobs outside of academia, because they're sort of the. Academic kind of job application promotions process feels very familiar.
 
132
00:16:34,830 --> 00:16:40,040
When you're in that environment, can you talk about your experience of.
 
133
00:16:40,040 --> 00:16:51,640
Applying for jobs in. industry and specifically kind of how you talked about and framed, your research experience?
 
134
00:16:51,640 --> 00:16:58,630
Yes, absolutely. So I was very lucky with the jobs that I went to.
 
135
00:16:58,630 --> 00:17:03,580
Most of them, I had some connection to the company.
 
136
00:17:03,580 --> 00:17:11,220
And throughout my working career, I seem to have fallen into jobs rather than applied through the formal process.
 
137
00:17:11,220 --> 00:17:21,310
So I would definitely say to any PhD tudents and create a network and tell people that you're looking for a job,
 
138
00:17:21,310 --> 00:17:28,850
because the one that I got at Subten Systems, I found out through a guy that I used to go gliding with.
 
139
00:17:28,850 --> 00:17:33,010
He'd started at this company and they were looking down on and I was able to apply
 
140
00:17:33,010 --> 00:17:37,930
and get a lot of things have kind of fallen into place through that network.
 
141
00:17:37,930 --> 00:17:48,310
I have done very few formal applications. Having said that, all my positions have involved some kind of interview.
 
142
00:17:48,310 --> 00:17:58,180
So I can certainly comment on that. I guess the key thing is to think about how you've applied your skills and
 
143
00:17:58,180 --> 00:18:04,540
any way that you can show that you can talk about how you've used that skill.
 
144
00:18:04,540 --> 00:18:09,750
So it could be that you.
 
145
00:18:09,750 --> 00:18:15,510
Looked after a colleague's child, say, for a few hours.
 
146
00:18:15,510 --> 00:18:21,150
And that was very challenging for you. You can apply that situation and say this was a very stressful situation.
 
147
00:18:21,150 --> 00:18:31,620
Not something that I'm familiar with. And this is how I managed it. That might not be particularly relevant to an industrial R&D engineering job,
 
148
00:18:31,620 --> 00:18:37,290
but they can see how when you went into a new situation, how you managed it.
 
149
00:18:37,290 --> 00:18:48,450
And I think those how you can form an example, if you can draw on your PhD, if you can draw on your sort of formal experiences, that's great.
 
150
00:18:48,450 --> 00:18:55,620
But if there's an area where you think importantly, where to go with this, look at your your life outside of work,
 
151
00:18:55,620 --> 00:19:00,840
outside of academia and think, are there examples that you can draw from there as well?
 
152
00:19:00,840 --> 00:19:07,230
Because that's a really key area that people sometimes sometimes miss.
 
153
00:19:07,230 --> 00:19:12,640
I think the other thing about applications and interviews is.
 
154
00:19:12,640 --> 00:19:23,890
It's almost always evidence based. So really try to give as many examples of how you fulfil the job.
 
155
00:19:23,890 --> 00:19:32,590
Job skills and competencies which will be listed on the job description, try and like focus on those specifically.
 
156
00:19:32,590 --> 00:19:38,520
And then you've got a stronger application. Are there particular things that you did?
 
157
00:19:38,520 --> 00:19:42,760
So you said you talked about kind of the importance of forming those examples and those examples,
 
158
00:19:42,760 --> 00:19:48,910
not having to be really specific to the role the industry that you're working in.
 
159
00:19:48,910 --> 00:19:55,930
Are there things that you did during your OhD that weren't necessarily kind of just about the doing the research
 
160
00:19:55,930 --> 00:20:03,310
and writing the thesis that have been really useful to you as examples and job applications and interviews?
 
161
00:20:03,310 --> 00:20:11,080
Oh, that's a great question. So there are lots of things I did during my PhD
 
162
00:20:11,080 --> 00:20:17,500
I travelled extensively as part of the PhD, which is something that I would definitely recommend to everybody.
 
163
00:20:17,500 --> 00:20:23,800
And actually that travel led to multiple collaboration's.
 
164
00:20:23,800 --> 00:20:34,250
Regarding my research. So that was extremely helpful in terms of outside of the actual PhD and the research environment.
 
165
00:20:34,250 --> 00:20:42,450
And I was also a Brownie leader. So that's part of the Girlguiding structure.
 
166
00:20:42,450 --> 00:20:54,850
And that was something that kept me really rooted during the PhD because I was working with girls aged seven to 10 and they can be so challenging.
 
167
00:20:54,850 --> 00:20:57,340
They can really come up with so many questions.
 
168
00:20:57,340 --> 00:21:07,030
Things that you don't think about a child's mind is a fascinating array of ideas, and they're so inquisitive.
 
169
00:21:07,030 --> 00:21:14,200
So that was really amazing. And I am quite lucky in that I was able to actually bring them into the physics building.
 
170
00:21:14,200 --> 00:21:22,630
And we did a whole evening in the physics building with a little talk and we did some bridge building and and all sorts of things.
 
171
00:21:22,630 --> 00:21:33,730
So that was that was really fantastic. I think I also did just after my PhD, I did some volunteering through girlguiding.
 
172
00:21:33,730 --> 00:21:37,720
So it was sustainable. Volunteering is what I called it.
 
173
00:21:37,720 --> 00:21:41,830
Call it. I'm not a builder. I don't have any skills in that area.
 
174
00:21:41,830 --> 00:21:46,000
So I can't go and build houses for people or anything like that.
 
175
00:21:46,000 --> 00:21:52,120
But we we ran a programme where we went out and asked the people what they were
 
176
00:21:52,120 --> 00:21:58,150
looking for and actually what they wanted was something much more simple or simple,
 
177
00:21:58,150 --> 00:22:02,740
something that I could deliver. Which was how to build CVs
 
178
00:22:02,740 --> 00:22:11,900
How to present yourself to different people. And it was a very simplistic level, but that was something that we were we were able to do.
 
179
00:22:11,900 --> 00:22:19,930
So that was fantastic. And as part of that, we also developed the girl guiding programme in the country with the leaders,
 
180
00:22:19,930 --> 00:22:30,160
very simple ideas that don't take lots of resources or money or time, but just ideas for things that they could do to to get more people involved.
 
181
00:22:30,160 --> 00:22:33,250
So that's something that I often talk about in interviews,
 
182
00:22:33,250 --> 00:22:39,580
because it's something that also changed me as a person to understand that I finished my PhD.
 
183
00:22:39,580 --> 00:22:45,040
But actually I have a lot of skills that are useful to other people and I can
 
184
00:22:45,040 --> 00:22:51,610
teach them in an informal way and about the world around them and how it works.
 
185
00:22:51,610 --> 00:22:55,870
I never really appreciated that before I went away.
 
186
00:22:55,870 --> 00:23:08,650
So that was really great. That's very interesting and how did you how did you balance doing that kind of activity alongside doing your PhD?
 
187
00:23:08,650 --> 00:23:11,590
I was quite lucky. We're part of a team.
 
188
00:23:11,590 --> 00:23:25,130
So when my work load up for my academic workload was quite high, I was able to kind of step back from the brownie preparation for the sessions.
 
189
00:23:25,130 --> 00:23:29,200
But when I was a little bit quieter, I could jump in and do more.
 
190
00:23:29,200 --> 00:23:36,310
And what I really tried to do was make sure that every Monday night when it was the meeting, I was always there.
 
191
00:23:36,310 --> 00:23:40,810
And that was a kind of a non-negotiable aspect for me. That time was Brownie time.
 
192
00:23:40,810 --> 00:23:47,670
And that was it. Apart from obviously when I was travelling for conferences and and other such things.
 
193
00:23:47,670 --> 00:23:56,500
But I think that's all about teamwork. That's about communicating with the team that you have and understanding each other's pressures.
 
194
00:23:56,500 --> 00:24:04,300
One of the other ladies that runs it is a school teacher. So there are key aspects during the year which are particularly busy for her.
 
195
00:24:04,300 --> 00:24:08,170
Another lady is a solicitor, so she has big projects.
 
196
00:24:08,170 --> 00:24:12,610
So sometimes it coincides that we we are all really busy.
 
197
00:24:12,610 --> 00:24:18,190
In which case we all do a little bit to contribute to what we need.
 
198
00:24:18,190 --> 00:24:22,900
Having said that, there's also a good aspect of just winging it,
 
199
00:24:22,900 --> 00:24:31,600
turning up and just having some fun and nothing to planned and just having a couple of things in your back pocket that you can just get on with.
 
200
00:24:31,600 --> 00:24:36,010
And I think that's that's really fun as well.
 
201
00:24:36,010 --> 00:24:42,440
I wouldn't want to do all the time, but that helps. And it is quite an important skill to have.
 
202
00:24:42,440 --> 00:24:46,600
Like you say, it's not something that we would necessarily want to make.
 
203
00:24:46,600 --> 00:24:56,530
The way that we operate on a daily basis, but quite often in in the working world and in your PhD, you do kind of have to just turn up and wing it.
 
204
00:24:56,530 --> 00:25:05,830
Absolutely. So there's always that time when you go to a conference and someone's talk doesn't load properly or is corrupted,
 
205
00:25:05,830 --> 00:25:14,800
or I went to a talk where all the graphs were in neon colours and you couldn't see any of the lines.
 
206
00:25:14,800 --> 00:25:19,630
And so I give him his due. That guy stood there for 20 minutes.
 
207
00:25:19,630 --> 00:25:24,430
He talked about his research and we could not see a single thing on any of his slides.
 
208
00:25:24,430 --> 00:25:31,060
And I think that is a real skill. And I think there's a bit to be said for preparation in that situation.
 
209
00:25:31,060 --> 00:25:37,810
Maybe you can go in the night before or just a couple of hours before your talk and just
 
210
00:25:37,810 --> 00:25:42,370
check it over to make sure that it does work on the projector that you're going to use.
 
211
00:25:42,370 --> 00:25:47,260
However, it's if you really know your subject area,
 
212
00:25:47,260 --> 00:25:55,720
hopefully you'd be able to talk a little bit about your research without these slides, you know, just giving it a go talk.
 
213
00:25:55,720 --> 00:26:01,210
And actually, it was a really good talk because it got people asking questions.
 
214
00:26:01,210 --> 00:26:10,300
And I think that's really key. I guess one of the big questions is what advice would you give to someone who's currently starting out or doing well,
 
215
00:26:10,300 --> 00:26:17,140
coming to the end of the research degree, who is thinking about R&D roles in industry?
 
216
00:26:17,140 --> 00:26:25,960
What advice would you give them about things they should be doing now, about applying for applying for jobs?
 
217
00:26:25,960 --> 00:26:29,760
Is there any kind of key tips you would give them? Absolutely.
 
218
00:26:29,760 --> 00:26:33,700
I would say try and extend your network.
 
219
00:26:33,700 --> 00:26:44,770
Now, you could do that by going up to conferences, talking to people about your research, but also talk to your family,
 
220
00:26:44,770 --> 00:26:54,070
your friends locally, because lots of my business contacts have been made through unusual links.
 
221
00:26:54,070 --> 00:27:01,240
So really use that network to understand what opportunities are out there.
 
222
00:27:01,240 --> 00:27:06,400
What kind of skills people are looking for right now. Because it changes it.
 
223
00:27:06,400 --> 00:27:16,600
It changes all the time. We're seeing more of a focus towards automation and more scripting is required.
 
224
00:27:16,600 --> 00:27:23,560
So things like Python are becoming more necessary and lots of job roles.
 
225
00:27:23,560 --> 00:27:33,550
And I would say focus on that to kind of understand what areas you might want to go into, on what kind of skills they're looking for.
 
226
00:27:33,550 --> 00:27:38,350
And then you can focus on sort of fulfilling those before you get there,
 
227
00:27:38,350 --> 00:27:46,480
but also using those contacts to understand actually is there an opportunity that I'd be perfect for.
 
228
00:27:46,480 --> 00:27:52,060
And actually, I can look to apply and say to them, look, it's conditional.
 
229
00:27:52,060 --> 00:27:55,900
I want to finish my PhD and then start or something like that.
 
230
00:27:55,900 --> 00:28:04,930
There are lots of opportunities out there. And you just need to be a bit flexible in looking for them, how you find them.
 
231
00:28:04,930 --> 00:28:11,290
And I think people often overlook that. Thinking that they have to apply through a formal route.
 
232
00:28:11,290 --> 00:28:19,620
And there will be a formal route. That is how you find those opportunities that I'm saying can be can be less orthodox.
 
233
00:28:19,620 --> 00:28:25,330
Yeah, I think I think that's really key and it seems to have been a key theme in your career so far.
 
234
00:28:25,330 --> 00:28:34,630
Actually, the importance of networking and making Connections to actually creating those opportunities.
 
235
00:28:34,630 --> 00:28:45,670
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, before my PhD, most of my jobs were through word of mouth.
 
236
00:28:45,670 --> 00:28:54,460
One of the jobs that I had was because I'd used a particular software for my dissertation and a company contacted the university and said,
 
237
00:28:54,460 --> 00:28:59,920
Do you have any students who can use this software? Any graduates who might be looking for jobs?
 
238
00:28:59,920 --> 00:29:06,430
That was another way that I that I got an opportunity there as well.
 
239
00:29:06,430 --> 00:29:10,750
So there are lots ways. Talk to your supervisor about what you're looking for.
 
240
00:29:10,750 --> 00:29:19,480
Maybe they have someone who's sponsoring PhDs in another area that maybe you're not aware of and they're looking for people.
 
241
00:29:19,480 --> 00:29:25,630
So that can be a huge help as well. Yeah, that's really brilliant.
 
242
00:29:25,630 --> 00:29:33,240
I'm. Is there anything that you.
 
243
00:29:33,240 --> 00:29:41,350
Wish that you had done. While you were still a PhD student that you think would've benefited your career so far?
 
244
00:29:41,350 --> 00:29:50,760
I don't think there's any opportunities that I missed. I think probably I should have spent some time learning how to code properly.
 
245
00:29:50,760 --> 00:29:55,620
That would be really useful in my career.
 
246
00:29:55,620 --> 00:30:04,560
Now, I've picked up bits along the way, but I have to say I'm not a superb coder.
 
247
00:30:04,560 --> 00:30:11,430
I think that's a key area. But in terms of conferences, in terms of experience, I was always quite cheeky.
 
248
00:30:11,430 --> 00:30:16,860
So I'd always ask if I wanted to go to a conference, if I saw it was somewhere amazing.
 
249
00:30:16,860 --> 00:30:23,730
Then I'd just ask and we'd see if there was budget and I'd make sure that I had something new to present.
 
250
00:30:23,730 --> 00:30:30,960
When I went to my supervisor to say I would go to this conference and most of the time we made it happen.
 
251
00:30:30,960 --> 00:30:39,920
So, yeah, be cheeky. Just go for it. Yeah, that's that's the benefit of being.
 
252
00:30:39,920 --> 00:30:46,470
Proactive. And also just accepting that, you know, if you ask.
 
253
00:30:46,470 --> 00:30:54,560
They might say no. They might say yes. Exactly. My mom always used to say, if you don't ask, you don't get.
 
254
00:30:54,560 --> 00:31:00,840
And that, I think, is very true. So couple of examples on that.
 
255
00:31:00,840 --> 00:31:06,480
Specifically, before I started my PhDD, I did a placement with Kinetic.
 
256
00:31:06,480 --> 00:31:13,770
And there was a project that we were working on, which was on a warship that was in for refits.
 
257
00:31:13,770 --> 00:31:19,290
And I I've never been on an aircraft carrier.
 
258
00:31:19,290 --> 00:31:25,440
And I thought I'd really like to go. So I went over to the guy who's running projects and I said, I'd really like to go.
 
259
00:31:25,440 --> 00:31:31,410
And he said, Oh, I dunno And then I ended up being down there for two weeks.
 
260
00:31:31,410 --> 00:31:40,920
And it was absolutely fantastic. And in another example, in my current job, I was working on a project.
 
261
00:31:40,920 --> 00:31:47,340
And one of the surgeons said to me, you should come down and see surgery.
 
262
00:31:47,340 --> 00:31:54,030
And I said, okay. So I asked my boss and he said, Well, yes, I guess so.
 
263
00:31:54,030 --> 00:32:00,780
So I went down and I saw a knee replacement and a hip replacement. And I've never seen anything like that.
 
264
00:32:00,780 --> 00:32:10,920
It's it's brutal and it's fascinating. And I had no idea how I was gonna react, whether I was going to faint on the floor or be engrossed in it.
 
265
00:32:10,920 --> 00:32:18,990
Turns out I didn't faint on the floor. Fantastic. Didn't embarrass myself in front of the surgeons, but it was just the most amazing experience.
 
266
00:32:18,990 --> 00:32:25,590
And I've got so much more insight into how these surgeries are performed.
 
267
00:32:25,590 --> 00:32:30,960
So when I work with a surgeon now, I know that if you're talking about fractions of a millimetre,
 
268
00:32:30,960 --> 00:32:42,480
it's probably not going to be achievable in surgery because you you just can't see does that level of detail that you can give them a guide
 
269
00:32:42,480 --> 00:32:54,220
and that that really the understanding of the situation of the kind of equipment that you have to wear of the how hot it is in the room.
 
270
00:32:54,220 --> 00:33:05,260
You know, all these things really help you to to speak to the customer and to to be able to direct them to the best solution for their problem.
 
271
00:33:05,260 --> 00:33:10,630
What do you love most about your job? Oh, just working with loads of different people.
 
272
00:33:10,630 --> 00:33:25,750
All the different industries. So I've got a project at the moment where I'm working on trying to automate a learning process to defect,
 
273
00:33:25,750 --> 00:33:29,530
to find defects in addictively manufactured parts.
 
274
00:33:29,530 --> 00:33:31,810
So that's one project.
 
275
00:33:31,810 --> 00:33:48,400
We're also working on automated learning to build models of hearts and knees and hips for things like pacemaker design or stent placement.
 
276
00:33:48,400 --> 00:33:54,180
So just working with that huge range of industries and everything in between,
 
277
00:33:54,180 --> 00:34:00,730
I'm just really allows me to keep my brain active and learning lots of new, different things.
 
278
00:34:00,730 --> 00:34:03,010
But like I've said, applying those skills,
 
279
00:34:03,010 --> 00:34:12,070
I've learnt through the experience that I've had before to be able to come up with innovative solutions that don't only solve, you know,
 
280
00:34:12,070 --> 00:34:23,290
sort of minor problems, but they're they're really addressing critical problems like defects in aircraftg wings or,
 
281
00:34:23,290 --> 00:34:26,780
you know, my my mum's knee replacement. She could have.
 
282
00:34:26,780 --> 00:34:33,400
Now, she could have a personalised knee replacement rather than one that was probably a bit smaller, a bit too big.
 
283
00:34:33,400 --> 00:34:41,890
But she was somewhere in the middle. And I think helping to address those problems gives you a real warm glow feeling inside.
 
284
00:34:41,890 --> 00:34:48,970
Thank you so much, Celia, for taking the time to talk to me and giving some really interesting insights on kind of R&D roles,
 
285
00:34:48,970 --> 00:34:53,590
but also the hidden job market. And that's it for this episode.
 
286
00:34:53,590 --> 00:35:07,982
Join us next time when we'll be talking to another researcher about their career beyond their research degree.
 

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App