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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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06/09/17
Economics in the Chemical Enterprise. Career Management. Tips for managing the attention economy
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:28 am

Herbert Simon is credited with recognizing that in a
data rich world what is critical is managing audience
attention.  Combined with the attitude that audiences
prefer A I D A, the digital media promoters code…

attention,
     interest,
         desire,
            action
,
we lose our focus, disturb our direction and slow our progress.
.
Leaders of the digital and media organizations realize this
and take advantage of the uninformed.  It is critical that
technical professionals understand this and improve the
way we manage ourselves, our colleagues and teams.
.
The technical world including the chemical enterprises is
dominated by the “attention economy.”  Earlier this blog posted
the influence of robotics and artificial intelligence in career
management in the chemical enterprises.  Financialization
also dominates chemical enterprises.  
.
Recently, Tristan Harris’s work was discussed on HBO where
he described what we can do to contain and manage attention
hijacks which Kevin Kelly referred to in The Inevitable.  Harris
prescribes actions we can take to contain the outside influences
that digital media and devices introduce in his web site: 
time well spent   
.
Tristan’s article
is must read for each of us interested in proactively
managing our attention and careers.
1 comment
05/01/17
Business and Economics. Follow up to Sparteine articles
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:50 am

The C&EN article on (+) and (-) sparteine,  which had an
origin in “In the Pipeline,” talks about shortages of specific
chemicals.  Interestingly, this unresolved shortage is a
business of chemistry concern and something, as the C&EN
article portrays, that can be of interest to many scientists for
different reasons.  

.
It is an inventory and supply chain concern and thus there is 
an overlap with Economics that is the focus here.  Economics
characterizes how a business is run, whereas proverbial
‘business’ characterizes how to run a business.  In a discussion
in Yahoo, Economics uses algorithms to maximize profits,
determining the quantity of a commodity that should be made
and its cost to consumers.

.
While the end users focus on delivery and quality, there is
more to the economics side in terms of storage lifetime,
competing product lines for the same equipment, regulatory
and legal (patent) requirements and LCA. [lifecycle analysis]

 

1 comment
02/27/17
Watch-Outs. 101. Economics influences, Spectroscopy in Archeology, Genomics / MS linking Gum disease to Arthritis
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:25 pm

In a blog we summarized three posts on Economics that are
critical to understand Rana Faroohar’s book Makers and
Takers.  A fourth entry went into “black elephant”
events which are very unlikely negative events that everyone
can see but feel that they cannot do anything about.
We point out here a video narrated by Matt Damon,
Inside Job” that is must see for everyone.

A second item is a very interesting piece about using 
spectroscopy on archaeological artworks.

Finally GENomics contained a piece about evidence
that a bacterium known to originate gum disease also
triggers rheumatoid arthritis using Mass Spec.

BLACK ELEPHANT - “Inside Job”
[available on Netflix] Many of us were directly or indirectly
affected by the financial turmoil of the 2000s.  Downsizing,
lower profits, stagnant economy, job loss, hard to find a new
position.
We think we have gotten out of that mirth, but this video
suggests we have only seen the beginning of it as 
nothing has been done to the perpetrators [Greenspan,
Paulsen, Bernanke, Summers, Fuld, Fed, the Huge
Wall Street Investment banks], the federal bureaucracy,
and the regulators.  They are still in an inept situation
with more to come.  
We only see things second hand and we need good leadership
to throttle the flow and trajectory.

 SPECTROSCOPY DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN 
ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDIES
SOURCE:  Biblical Archeological Review Mar/Apr 2017
T. R. Hanneken, Digital Archeological’s New Frontier.

The spectral signature of a pigment in one region can
be distinguished from a pigment with a similar appearance
from a different region.  Archaeological application devises
new techniques– low angle “raking”, reflectance
Transformation imaging and InsciptiFact Digital Image
Library which incorporates texture, color and non-visible
characterization of archeological pieces.
.
PROTEOMIC ANALYSIS LINKS ARTHRITIS TO GUM 
DISEASE
SOURCE:  GenEngNews 1-15-17 Proteomic Analysis used
to link RA to Gum Diseas
e
There has been a clinical association between periodontal 
disease and RA (arthritis) and both diseases triggered by the
same factor. Aggregatibacter Actinomyecetemconmitans
induces citrullinated proteins detected by mass spec.
Bacterial secretion of a toxin to kill host immune cells which
allows a flux of calcium  thus activating an enzyme that
promotes hypercitrullination. 
comments (0)
12/27/16
Job Polarization, Black Elephant events and Cognification
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 3:34 pm

It is amazing to realize the rapid changes in career
management factors we face.  Psychology, economics and
computer-automation-robotics-artificial-intelligence-and
-inference are longer term factors for our careers.  

Let me list some specific examples:
.
ROUTINE TASK AUTOMATION 
Computer capital supported by financialization (where highly
leveraged loans to automate functions with software and 
robotics ) puts middle skilled workers in precarious straits.
[Read:  recent graduates with no experience or internships.]
.
Those who do non-routine work (low-paid, unskilled and
richly paid, highly skilled) are in demand.  We see this Job
Polarization in many situations with supporting elements 
being stagnating wages and reallocation of roles from 
specialization to variety of roles with less specialization.
.
Thanks to advances in deep learning and AI, computers can 
perform not only manual but also cognitive tasks better and
faster than humans.  This augers the result that highly trained
specialists are replaced by internet enhanced software, a
specific example is radiologists since much of their work
are “routine cognitive tasks.”
.
BLACK ELEPHANT SITUATIONS
In my day it was the Arab Oil Embargo that set us in a path
for alternate energy sources, energy independence and electric
vehicles.
.
Tom Friedman in his recent book Thanks for Being Late. wrote:
” A black elephant is a cross between a black swan, a low
probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications–
and the elephant in the room, a problem that is widely visible to 
everyone, yet no one wants to address, even though we
absolutely know that one day we will have vast, black-swan-like
consequences.”  Ocean acidification is an example.
.
Black elephant events can provide a once in a lifetime opportunity 
or the end of the line for industries (think chemical photography), 
companies, and directions in our careers.
.
 COGNIFYING AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING
Adding AI to various tasks enables us to do more at lower cost and
higher efficiency.   Add AI to laundry to tell washing machines to
adjust to the contents of each load as directed by the clothes (sensors).
.
AI added to chemistry can aid discoverability and optimization by 
performing virtual experiments to reduce the number of lab
experiments to reach a goal.  Think of the way Netflix and Kindle
come up with customer recommendations.
.
This is cognifying.  All cognition is specialized.  In this continuous
learning process we need to work with AI and robots and let
these tools take our routine tasks and help us dream up
new work that matters.  There are four classes of jobs:
.
1.  Jobs humans can do, but robots can do even better.
highway driving, tax preparation, routine x-ray analysis,
pre-trial evidence gathering, etc.
.
2.  Jobs humans cannot do, but robots can.
remote locations, hazardous environments, monitoring,
then signalling an alarm.  Jobs that would not be done without
robots and sensors.
.
3. Jobs we did not know we wanted done.  
.
4.  Jobs only humans can do– at first. 
creativity (on what we should do), new situations, one of a
kind roles.
Our human assignment should be to keep making jobs for
robots and software.
comments (0)
12/15/16
End of the Year Career Management. 2016
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:52 pm

Three top line topics have appeared this year:
1) Evolving trends in technical careers
2) Professional Behaviors that can help you
3) High Need for New Division in ACS– Economics
and Chemistry [Not only short periodic webinars that
are at 30,000 foot level and CEPA] 

*Trends in Technical Careers   
   Protein Binding, Quaternary Structure, Thorium Reactors
   Drug Resistance, Crowdsource Funding, Teamwork in High Risk Goals
   New forms of Light, Epidemiology, Cell research  
   Photonics and Si-C chemistry
   Omics, Panomics
   Optics, Spectroscopy and Miniaturization

*Professional Behaviors
   -Learning to Say “No”
   -Listening Skills          Activities of a Listener
                                        Focus elements
   -Trust                           Highest form of Motivation
                                        Elements of Communication  
   -Ethics                          Legal elements
                                        In Decision-making

*Economics and Chemistry
    New Division Proposal
    Need for “Forecasting”
    Superstar Organizations
    Financialization

 

comments (0)
12/01/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise. 3. Financialization
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:28 am

Reading a powerful work by Rana Foroohar, “Makers and
Takers
,” that explains the strong undercurrent that drives
the visible trends we see in offshoring, in automation, in
uneven distribution of profits and benefits.  It is what she
calls FINANCALIZATION.

ECONOMICS BACKGROUND
The first entry into Economics highlighted the need for the
ACS to engage “Economics practices,” like true forecasting
and principles that members can truly benefit from.  Older
practices of “reporting old news” is insufficient for a true
professional society
The second Economics posting pointed out observations of
limited startups and further concentration bigger firms
driving short term profits, bonuses for C-suite, and shareholder
dividends/ share-price.
.
WHAT IT IS ABOUT
This posting on Makers and Takers who are
  M: people, companies and ideas that create real economic
viability
  T:  users of the evolving dysfunctional market based systems
that aim to enrich themselves without resulting consequences

The Takers  implement “FINANCIALIZATION” that push 
outsourcing, not thinking about challenges to supply chain, 
and promote flash trading and computer-generated algorithms
used in complex securities resulting in market crashes.

Another longer term result is that the labor practices of Wall Street
are being imposed on the nature of employment and kinds
of workers used everywhere.  ”Wall Street values not worker
stability but constant market simultaneity.  If mortgages are
not the best thing, let’s get rid of the mortgage desk and we will 
hire them back in a year.  They are ‘liquid people.’”

Besides decreases in lending (to support start ups and new ideas),
and increases in trading and debt securities (rising debt and
credit levels stoke financial instability;  debt fueled finance
has become the saccharine substitute for growth),  we observe
the mounting monopoly power of large financial institutions
that dominate allocation and are causing even the most successful
ventures to take on debt, reduce regulation and influence legal
code changes.

This is a readable book that illuminates much of what we are
experiencing and ACS members need to know about.

comments (0)
10/10/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise. 2.
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:18 pm

Ten years ago R. Jones edited a series of factors
giving rise to the apparent trend involving the 
globalization of chemical enterprise industries.  
We have urged ACS in this blog to report and
follow the Economics in the Chemical
Enterprise 
as the older model (of globalization)
is less valid now as an important concept for
members.  
.

We observed that globalization is less
significant now and plays much less of a strategic
role as superstar companies that use an array of
qualities.  They have distinctive cultures and
traditions that many academic centers are little 
aware of, including seeking and following top 
talent (stretch assignments, accelerator 
experiences, and crucible roles) and keeping their 
focus on a long term vision (by modifying their 
shareholders’ voting rights) and managing finances, 
legislation and financial markets.
.
The Economist reported on recent trends in its
article as a new age of corporatism giving rise to
consolidation to stay on top “hoovering up talent,
buying patents and investing in research.”  We can see
this leading to problems ascribed to concentration of
pay, technology, top execs and vast amounts of
information.
.
In an interesting related piece in Cheeky Scientist Blog
is the five corporate departments that PhDs should know
which are critical to a company’s success.  While most
know “companies have R&D, Marketing and Sales,”
few realize also critical to success are finance, supply
chain and information technology.
.
I suspect these are all new to Chemists and Engineers
and this reveals the need for further education in these
and traditional areas that have further evolved.
1 comment
09/04/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise.
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Recruiters, Leadership, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:58 am

The global pace is speeding up.  To meet the needs and
interests of members and institutional stakeholders the
Society needs to incorporate broader and deeper aspects
of economics in the technical and scientific aspects of
the chemical enterprise.

.
Think:  mergers and acquisitions; government funding of
CDC, EPA, NIH, chemical research;  international trade
arrangements; patent implications for different industries;
water, power, recycling…
.
This post recognizes the development of sustainability,
green chemistry, and internationalization of programs.  
Other organizations [ 1 , 2 ] have pointed out deeper and
broader economic implications. ACS has an ongoing
organization
to continuously update “historical” data for
members.   
.
We need to access disciplines that will continuously
FORECAST business cycles that affect the chemical
enterprise and describe implications to members and
constituents.
.
Robert Colvile has described how 
- more attention is paid to one issue rather than the
gradual and incremental changes all around us
- flashy and superficial is promoted
- faster and shorter-lasting dominates
- ease of money, ideas and pathogens moving around
with less friction and checking means disaster can
happen before we are aware
- industries and companies can disappear with a click
of a network or computerized trading micro-second
- trajectories are nonlinear and interruptable
.
One strategic area ACS needs to grow and foster
is economic forecasting.  This blog has reviewed
Tetlock’s Superforecasting and it is appropriate to 
bring up the Good Judgment Project as a seed for how
the ACS might bring economic forecasting to help
members.
2 comments
06/28/16
Watch-Outs. 97. Helium discovery, Jobs-computers-automation, and Impact of Sweet Chemicals
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:12 am

There is a section of Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book
Second Machine Age that reviews the term “technological
unemployment.
“  It is attributed to the use of human labor
not finding application in the emerging economy and finds
causes from inelastic demand (machines, robots and computers
replacing and not taking breaks in fault-tolerant activities),
people not adapting to skill needs  and long term cost
reductions.  Two recent articles speak to recent job loss
in the chemical enterprise and the perspective from a
different field, economics.

I cannot think of another situation where there is
big news of finding an unexpected source of a
needed chemical other than rare earth elements
in China..  This time it is helium.

Food science resources that might help us
manage chronic diseases seem to be rare.  The
resources we see available are mostly proponents of
use or pharma companies for encouraging various
drug candidate use.  Here is one on sweeteners that
should be shared widely.

TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT
SOURCES:  J. Bessen HBR 2016, “Computers Don’t
Kill Jobs but increase Inequality

                      The Economist, 6-25-2016 “Special Report:
Artificial Intelligence

                      Dolan, Detroit Free Press,  “Dow to cut
700 Jobs in Central Michigan

Despite simple explanations that computers are growing
jobs due to new applications and broader usage, the
story is not as clear as Bessen writes.  You cannot
predict what you should learn and additionally, academics
are generally a technology generation behind actual
usage.  The Economist special section covers briefly
what is known and gives more up to date detail that
many fields are continuously evolving with new AI
methods ie ‘deep learning software available on open
source basis.’

Dow recently announced job losses in the chemical
enterprise that will have ripple effects as they “rationalize
their labor force needs”.   Sure there are business priorities
globalization will play a role as information can be shared
instantaneously and worked on anywhere in the world.
so you can see technical experts with advanced expertise
surviving, but there is much uncertainty for those seeking
full time, longer term employment.

The Economist series places one leg on each side of the
fence (pro and con), but you should look for areas of
opportunity (what robots and computers cannot do).

The longer term ripple effect of Dow-DuPont acquisition
and spin-offs are a visible example that the chemical
enterprise is not immune from this despite what popular
literature tries to sell.

HELIUM FIND IN AFRICA
SOURCE:  NYTimes feed “Huge Helium Source found in Africa
I was somewhat aware of the shortage of helium used
in many advanced technologies from Nick Leadbeater.
Working with Helium One, a Norwegian exploration firm
Oxford geologists uncovered a gas field rich in helium.
It is material released from rocks due to volcanic heat
in adjacent rocks.  The finding is of large commercial
value and may lead to testing other similar formations
goldilocks zones“.

There are important implications for industry.

TEMPTING SWEETS MAY NOT BE ALL THAT GOOD
SOURCE:  S Ernst, Amer. Laboratory, “Sweet Tooth”
 June/July 2016 p. 6-7.
Ernst’s article on Sweet tooth captured my interest.
and led me to look at Sugarscience.org.  There are
a number of metabolic tendencies that may the result
of food formulations that attract customers to purchase
and ingest what may not be best for them.  The website
seems to be a terrific repository of reviewed information
not biased by organizations that profit from its content.

comments (0)
05/23/16
Time to Talk about Skill, Luck and Appreciation
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:00 am

Have you ever thought about what it will take for you and
each one of us to reach the American Dream of the pursuit
of happiness, fulfilled life and liberty (equality, rights and
justice under law)?

So much is heavily weighted on how the privileged have
advantages.  The fact remains that outside of that, luck and
skill play roles for ourselves and our careers.

We have talked about practicing and putting in the time and
energy to master skills where in the end
   success = potential * serendipity  [LUCK]
We have mentioned Jim Collins’s concept of Return on
Luck
, in other words, when good fortune happens what you
do with it.  He also strategizes on how you plan for and
capture luck.

Building on these is a nice piece by Bob Frank in NYTimes
Are you successful
, where he cites
+  Mona Lisa became famous after an Italian maintenance
employee at the Louvre stole it and it was recaptured LUCK
+   Statistical correlation between Economics professors
where manuscript authorship is in alphabetical order giving
lead authors faster recognition LUCK
 +  Your country of origin and even your month of birth
can correlate in the past with different success measure
trends. LUCK

To me M Mauboussin’s piece gave me a moment to pause,
as he asked three questions in relation to the relative
importance of luck and skill-
1- can you accurately predict an outcome and from a set of
starting conditions /influences?  If so, is it easy to implement or
a challenge?
easy- SKILL dominates;  challenge- LUCK may.
2- what is the frequency of ‘reversion to the mean’ outcomes?
low- SKILL         high- LUCK or external influences
3- can forecasters predict outcomes consistently?
yes- SKILL          no- LUCK, or bad question or phrasing

Being able to look at any outcome and appreciate the
contributions of others, nonetheless will influence
attitudes and future opportunities in striking ways.
Look at every chance to express your appreciation
for that will be an influence.

LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity + action comments (0)

05/11/16
Hot Topics. Free the Science, Chemistry-Economics, New Materials Methods
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:51 am

How can you bring new ideas to an organization?  When
first mentioned, members will say–that’s crazy!  We’ve
done it before or it has been tried and look what happened….

Three possible revolutionary (and helpful) ideas are
offered here.  One has been mentioned before, free dissemination
of high quality chemical information
.  Free the science!

There is a large hew and cry about increasing employment
opportunities
for people in the chemical enterprise–
technicians, engineers, biochemists, and many sub-disciplines.
Are we asking the blind where to look and how to find trends,
opportunities, and ideas?  We should have a whole division
entitled, Chemistry and the Economy which uses Economists
tools of data analysis and superforcasting!

Can we predict the outcome of experiments?  Yes when we are
lucky… that is why we do experiments.  A group from LANL,
I heard from a member of my network, uses informatics based
adaptive design to define new materials.

DISSEMINATE KNOWLEDGE FREELY
Many are not aware but over a hundred years ago a group of
scientists
separated from the ACS and formed their own
society since their needs were not met.  At this time the
critical needs of the world are not met by large commercial
interests and privatized, high cost journals.  There is a
critical need to radically change how good information is
shared.  A model for this has been published and is being
implemented.  The incremental, “nibble at the apple” approach
that is not affordable outside large institutions should change.

NEW DIVISION:  ECONOMICS AND CHEMISTRY
Chemists are not economists.  Economists are not chemists.
Why are we asking chemists to assess the economy and
report on how the chemical enterprise evolves and what
will be viable career fields in the future.  You can not look
at the past to predict the future.  Things change fast.
We need, as a society, a new division dedicated to asking
economics questions about STEM fields.

The ACS, NESACS and other sections and divisions have
no influence over creating jobs in the private or the
public sector.  There is a crying need for the ACS to
define a new and important role, outside of the chemical
realm that asks the questions we are not able to develop
answers or even superforecasts.  Please let’s develop a
new division!

LANL INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Many have learned that hunches tested  by trial and error
have yielded new materials for practical materials.  Think
of for example lithium battery cathode material.  The
LANL group has developed a partial factorial designed
experiment approach that is quicker and more efficient.
This brings in innovations in statistical design much
needed in designing materials of the future.

1 comment
05/21/15
Transformative Planning. 2. Questions to ask
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:01 pm

This blog remarked about transformative planning recently.
Many of the comments to an article that reported on the
impacts of the drop in oil prices on near term hiring and
university students in petroleum engineering professions.
What do you do?

Enrollment in petroleum engineering was reported to more
than tripled
in university programs in five years.  So, this
impacts many more who have recently graduated or are in the
middle of their studies.

Many of us who started out in one career path or line of
work have have adapted our skills to emerging or evolving
areas by applying our basic knowledge to new problems, over
and over again. 

In fact, many current postings will all but certainly be
transformed by automation, robotics, lasers, nanomaterials
and life cycle analysis.  New technology or technical
solutions do not direct loss of jobs, but transition us
more to jobs that employ reorganized routines to accomplish
our goals.  James Bessen has recently written that
professionals, students and teachers need to recognize this.

So, in one case, economics of the petroleum feedstock
industry and in another “technology” seems to be changing
the face and prospects of gainful employment.

It urges us to be more prepared for disruptive forces and
ask better questions when we enter fields or interview for
positions.  As we see many of us being employed by
organizations for shorter spans and hiring practices
leading more to project based or consulting or temporary
employment,  the pointers Al Sklover raises about things
we can ask and negotiate when working as a consultant
become more meaningful.

comments (0)
04/07/15
Watch-Outs. 81. Meetings, Long term corporate research, Big-Picture personal finances
Filed under: First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:53 pm

In this week’s class we will do a procedure I
learned from a “Free Exchange” commentary
in the Economist.  I will be seeking input from
everyone.  To keep the meeting timely and not
dominated by one or another, by having everyone
note one idea of their own first.  Then call on
less vocal members in the second round first.
Then reverse the order after letting groups
discuss and discover new items via their interaction.
The article and associated comments is “Meeting up”
and takes ideas from several disciplines and
points of view

A second link describes the current system
Google Labs uses to get results in shorter time with
less total investment.

A third link advises us how to avoid making serious
mistakes in our finances.

WAYS OF MAKING MEETINGS MORE EFFECTIVE
SOURCE:  ‘Free Exchange’ The Economist “Meeting
Up
” 4-4-15, p.72
Many observations of the waste of time organizational
meetings can be be biased leading to bad outcomes and
wasted resources.  The article cites Gole and Quinn’s
work on votes by judges at debating tournaments to
assess processes that that would both be effective and
be harmful to achieving better outcomes.

GOOGLE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
SOURCE;  A. Barr, WSJ 4-1-15 “Google Labs puts a
Time Limit on Innovations
“ 
The article details some project management and
research trends and recent changes worth looking
at for how high tech forms are experiment to find
better ways to innovate as they become larger and
older.

INSURANCE COVERAGES, INDIVIDUAL
STOCK OWNERSHIP AND CATASTROPHIC
INSURANCE
SOURCE:  J. Clements, WSJ 4-4-15, p. B8
Are you overlooking big threats to your finances

1. Misjudging risks;  consequences of early death
on your family;  Disabilities from unexpected
sources
2. Concentrating investments and holdings
3. Avoiding worst case scenario assessment
and creating action plans

1 comment
01/26/15
Mentoring Discussions. Different Perspectives, Helpful ideas
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:06 pm

A colleague/collaborator and I were conversing about
mentoring and mentoring programs.  She was telling me
about the struggles when discussing what is important,
who should be targeted and what would a successful program
look like.

She brought up the finding that different parts of an organization,
like marketing, finance, medical affairs (medical device mfg),
and R&D views mentoring differently.

Some parts think of the role as helping new members come up
to speed with the culture because turn over is high.  Another
part of the company has very low turnover, flat organizational
structure and intense detailed work.  (You almost have to have
a retirement party to induce a change.)

Thus, mentoring in specific companies can assume a company
cultural bias to meet the needs at a particular point in time or
departments that it serves.

So the roles of teacher, coach, mentor and sponsor can be
adjusted.  Mentoring graduate students in technical fields
needs to adjust to each field in the same view.  The skill sets
can be used to meet different goals since in each field of
research, development, marketing, management, product
development and manufacturing uses the technical elements
with different goals.  The emphasis is morphed to meet the needs.

She also share an interesting link to the different roles.

KAHNEMAN: IMPROVING DECISION MAKING
This brought to mind a recent book by John Lanchester
who spoke about how Kahneman influenced the interview
process in selecting military candidates (without going into
formal details.). 

He did experiments on selection processes where
critical skills and abilities were defined, questions were
prepared by knowledgeable stakeholders for a pool of
qualified candidates.

[JOHN LANCHESTER How to speak money:  What the
money people say—and what it really
means, Norton & Company,
New York 2014]

He then had a random portion of the group take objective
measure tests before interviewing. 

Better selections were made when the intuition of
interviewers were supplemented by independent testing
evaluation.

So, in various places this additional testing is being done.

BUSINESS TERMS
Lanchester also presented remarkable meanings of
business terms which technical people might find useful.
failing upwards:  someone who screws up and is promoted
to a bigger job just as the first result collapses

fiscal and monetary:  fiscal means dealing with taxes and
spending, controlled by government;  monetary means
dealing with interest rates, controlled by the central bank.

“a haircut:“  in investment bonds, people who have lent money
are not going to get all of their money back.

hollowing out:”  process by which jobs disappear from the
economy while appearances remain the same.
At its peak, Kodak employed 140,000 and valued at $28B.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1B in 2012 and employed
13 people.

hype cycle:”  process involving new inventions, technology
or product design arrives with much fanfare and is found not
to live up to its claims.

McJobs:  low status, low-pay, low-security, low-prospect
jobs like at a franchise as McDonalds.

Types of unemployment:  frictional, structural and cyclical
frictional:  people move, voluntarily choose to change
careers
structural: loss of jobs due to technological change or
obsolescence (chemical photography)
cyclical:  loss of jobs due to boom and bust cycles of
the economical system

1 comment
09/27/14
Watch-Outs. 68. Internships, Resumes, Retirement Planning
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:22 pm

Recent graduates and post-docs seem to be better prepared for
industrial positions now if they have either been in a co-op
program or been involved in internships.  We point to a broader
article on the practice of internships and highlight useful
ideas (namely proceed with caution for unpaid positions and
have a very good idea why you want the experience and what
you will do with the experience.).

While I still recommend value in creating a master
resume or CV to capture all of your experiences, credentials,
projects, avocations, and areas of work interest, specifically
targeted with keywords ready for scanning documents are
what a leading resume coach recommends.

One of the better recent articles describing retirement
planning is pointed out.  It points out some considerations
that might influence organization, planning and spending
patterns.

INTERNSHIP ROUTE TO EMPLOYMENT
SOURCE:  The Economist, 9-6-14, p. 61
Generation i” (small i)
From one point of view this article reviews the history
of interns and experiences of mostly “unpaid internships”
which seem to be a last choice option.  The “comments”
section offers a rebuttal that the article misses paid
internships in technical positions lasting 2-6 months.
Paid internships in the best of cases (25%) offers
an in-person experience that is outside of the academic
arena and is an investment in you.

UPDATED PERSPECTIVE ON RESUMES
SOURCE:  Career Hub, Jean Cummings
The Kind of resume that works now“ 
Jean really emphasizes the need to study the job
description carefully and pick out the job titles
and keywords unique to the position.  Then
incorporate them into your cover letter and your
resume in context.  ATS software is the rule such
that once it is scanned and sorted reviewers spend
5-6 seconds reading an easy to read, specific,
and targeted resume.

RETIREMENT REALITIES
SOURCE:  R. Kapadia, Barrons, 9-22-14, p. 23
Don’t Panic
Point by point discussion first discussing myths
touching on
- spending in retirement is fluid, not constant
- within 10 years of retirement, half are single,
especially lower educated
- the impact of children/minors is substantial

Then, covering Important steps which include:
-   regularly updated budgeting, manage your cash
flow and plan state and federal taxes
-   have fewer fixed expenses;  pay things off
-   behavioral economics applies– in down
years, spend less
-   very good advice on tax diversification

Added notes on Long term care
-   it will happen
-   industry is changing , select broadest definition
of care givers, begin reimbursements after
calendar days (not service days)
-   pay attention to elimination period

comments (0)
09/08/14
Trends in Technical Careers. Alert to Unexpected Situations, Combining things in different ways
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:44 am

It was inspiring hearing words describing the IEEE
outstanding educator award presentation of Professor
Jamal Dean.  Professor Dean is now at McMaster
University in Hamilton, ON and remarked:
(A. Kumar, Interface, Fall, 2014, 42-3)

Be prepared for the unexpected.  It may be upon you
before you know it.  So adapt and use your knowledge
and skills to create novel and workable solutions.  And
do not be afraid of controversial areas of research,
even if there is opposition from mainstream ‘experts’”…

Why mention Jamal Dean?  He works to solve big
problems with significant impact in cross-disciplinary
fields
.

An example of this is the use of unexpected elements
in semiconductor manufacturing.  You know well Moore’s
Law about the prediction of exponential improvements
in digital electronic devices.  Did you know hafnium,
ruthenium, tantalum (ok, I knew about this), zirconium
(this, too) and cobalt are all used in discrete elements
of chips to make true the ‘Moore prediction.’  Why? 
The article by Michael McCoy   (p. 16) states, “because
it works.”
There is a lot of chemistry, physics, engineering and
economics that will continue to play a role.  Consider,
for example, Moore’s second law of semiconductor
manufacturing
, known as Rock’s Law.  Technical people
should be curious about this “intersection”…

Susan Ainsworth reported in an earlier CEN issue about
what pharmaceutical firm representatives look for in
candidates:
BS:  higher level organic, physical organic, and theoretical
organic chemistry with advance laboratory work
in which synthetic routes are designed, enzymatic
reactions are characterized or there is exposure to
receptor pharmacology..
         challenging research experience gives a leg up.

PhD:  challenging research projects in solving or
gaining understanding of complex problems, say
signal transduction, protein structure, multistep
synthesis.

All should be able to demonstrate communication
skills to be able to go up to a board or with pen and
paper field questions or propose solutions to problems.
Of course, be able to deliver an elevator speech.

What stood out was a segment on “being situationally
aware
” outside of classroom or formal structure
situations.  It is more behavioral than textbook.

Combining things in different ways can be an example
of what is sought in candidates.  This is demonstrated
by for example photoswitchable antibiotics which were
recently reported in Ang. Chem.  doi:10.1002/
ange.201310019 and in Photonics showcase.

comments (0)
08/20/14
Mentoring. SPIE worldview, Importance of Face-to-face Interaction, Online Strategies
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Recruiters, Post-docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:59 am

This entry is about mentoring.
While no one has all the answers.  No human can realize all the
history, interactions and subtleties around human situations.  Yet,
there can be real benefit if we develop mentoring relationships
In fact, there is a site that displays a number of well-known
people and the individuals who were their mentors.

Not only are recent graduates and post-docs “in the hunt” for
their next position, people in positions are asking how should
I position myself for being available for being considered for
my next position. 
What should I do?  they all ask their mentors.  Consider:
  Ideas (what is going on in parallel fields),
  information (how do I express myself and get feedback),
  interviews (what are the emerging trends for making ourselves
available…)

INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF CAREER PATHS - SPIE
SPIE reported a telling snapshot of its membership’s typical
workweek, job satisfaction, mobility, how they define success
and salary.
What was telling about this article is the international nature of
the survey and the added cultural dimension overlaid on the photonics
industry.  The remarkable feature that this adds is offering a study
in a parallel field to the chemical enterprise that may hint at
similarities and differences that are not “teased out” from
ACS reports.

TAKE TIME TO MEET WITH MENTORS;  TAKE TIME TO
UPDATE THEM;  OFFER TO HELP
Despite all the advances in technology, in person, face-to-face
meetings
sets the “gold standard” for communication.  It is enhanced
by technological follow-ups.  In the last week, I have interacted with
dozens of people.  Each of the interactions were spurred by
making connections with individuals in face-to-face encounters.
This is a masterful “wise skill” to develop.

Ask for feedback, learn new insights, find out what is important to
your mentors.

ECONOMIST UPDATES PROFESSIONAL ONLINE NETWORKS
Did you know that recruiters are Linkedin’s main revenue stream?
Led by its “talent solutions” segment it pinpoints, as long as we
include the pertinent details in our profile, and keep it up, formal
academic background, experience breadth and depth, broad skill
strengths, affiliations in organizations  and participation in some
groups.  (If you have not gotten feedback on your profile, ask
your mentor for feedback where you wish your career’s future
to move.)
In the same issue Linkedin’s competitors in France and China
(viadeo) and Germany (xing) are delineated in economics terms.
These are becoming the new exchanges for screening interviews.
Thus, having relevant up-to-date profiles using keywords that
recruiters seek is paramount.

comments (0)
10/12/13
Chemistry Jobs in the Future. Present Shock vs. Era of Abundance
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:48 pm

I was so pleased that in each of the last two weeks to
be able to meet with undergraduates at Niagara University
and UCONN and share with them some observations
about employment trends.

There are two headline areas that were shared.  The
first headline is that careers have morphed into something
less predicable, more varied and much more dependent on
technical or hard skills, soft skills and wise skills. 

Along with this morphing is a media domination of our
attention
that Douglass Rushkoff has written about freeing
ourselves from the tornado of effects that the loss of
personal narratives, change of the perspective of time and
multitasking to ground ourselves in a purposeful, nurturing
world.  [Suggestion:  Do a personal self assessment and pursue
mentors to establish goals and create a narrative.]

The second headline is the Chemistry Jobs– Simplified
View paradigm of four concentric circles
, where the to
the center is the more focused on the disciplines of
chemistry, engineering, materials isolation, fabrication and
analysis

The second circle from the center is Chemistry based jobs
and includes extraction, manufacturing, regulatory, sales,
technical services, quality control and design.
The third circle from the center involves science-related
jobs, including biology, geology, physics, medicine, toxicology
astronomy, space science and the like.   Also, policy,
journalism, business and research and grant management,
association and organizational advocacy.
Finally, the fourth concentric circle is science inspired jobs
which include venture capital, economics, futurist and movies
and TV.
[from the VISION 2025 ACS Presidential Task Force of
Dr. Marinda Wu, p. 18]

There are untold numbers of ways chemistry skills and background
can and do provide jobs and future careers.  To help them develop
we encouraged gaining experience via
  internships [undergraduate research fits here, as well],
  purposefully develop co-curricular skills,
  know the importance of referrals and committed networking,
  have a professional internet presence and
  be willing to work your way up.

We are seriously living in a time of abundance.  Wise futurists
provide many diverse possibilities, including Diamondis,
Anastas and Vaitheeswaran.

comments (0)
05/05/13
Watch-outs 43. Decision-Making, Using Social Media and Emotional Intelligence in Business
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:33 am

Before we get to three items, Al Sklover shared
some amazing, in-the-moment employee benefits
that firms offer, in place of real pensions…

In the same vein, we link to highlights of an
article on Daniel McFadden about consumer choice,
things that affect our decision making process.
A second link relates to ideas on how scientists
and engineers participate in social media.  While
we are for the most part scientists and engineers,
it is interesting to learn what drives and divides
business school talent assessment–
emotional quotient.

CHOICE DECISION MAKING INFLUENCES
SOURCE:  The Economist, “Free exchange“,
4-27-13, p.72
Mcfadden overlaid neuroscience and psychology on
economics in relaying a conclusion that our preferences
are “fluid.”  He cited:
-  mundane things are valued more highly when we
think of them as “our own.”  Think: stocks we hold whose
price has dropped, insurance policy deductibles [premiums
for lower deductibles], even our clothes that we own.
-  memory and experience of an event are dominated
by how we feel at its peak and near the perceived end.
-  order in the presentation of alternate choices and what
happens right before the choice exhibit strong influences. 
Think:  social networks, online habits
-  more choices is not always good.

SCIENTISTS INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL MEDIA
SOURCE: PLOS Biology
A file-laden, open access article on how scientists
are evolving in their use of online resources. 
A nice status report in a related, interdisciplinary and
international field in which many of us participate.
Thanks to Linkedin .

BUSINESS SCHOOL SELECTION
SOURCE:  M. Korn, WSJ 5-2-13 p. B1
It is interesting to track how business schools are
adapting to hiring practices in their industries.  They
seem to be adapting assessments of personal
and emotional competencies based on scoring
competency models.

comments (0)
11/17/12
Entrepreneurs. 2. Valuable Insights for going out on your own with Venture Capitalists
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:00 am

Recently I attended an informative entrepreneur symposium in
fields where venture capital plays the key role.  While I note ACS
is urging members to recognize this path to employment, some
features of what is common knowledge in other high tech fields
will help the chemical enterprise adapt and reform in an evolving
market.

A.  Your elevator pitch (as different from your elevator speech for
networking interviews) needs to be “top notch” and professional.

B.  Venture capital has a distinct regional dimension:  East coast vs
west coast VCs
East:  in finance, terms to protect against downside
           non compete agreements provide a hang-up to future innovation
           elegance counts:  how smart you are, your pedigree

West:  in finance, terms to adequately participate in upside
            non compete agreements not enforceable
            black cat, white cat:  no matter, cats eat mice

C.  Finance and Economics.  Looking at the big picture, VCs are being
squeezed (going out of business) in the low interest rate environment.
See also:
             Amazon services levels the playing field
             pros and cons
             Serious suggestions

D.  FACTORS FOR SUCCESS
     age-ism is active;  but likeability factor is stronger
     look for project managers who have failed and learned from failure
     Know there are trends in entrep terms:  investor friendly—
entrepreneur friendly
     solving hard problems with technology and have customers willing
to pay now and in future
     scaling is a dominant factor
     think about an exit strategy:  acquisition, IPO
     top 15% of deals pays for everything

5 comments