From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2021
« Nov    
Business and Economics. Follow up to Sparteine articles
Filed under: 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]


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Graduate Student Orientation. Self Assessment
Filed under: First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:46 am

Some universities have a section of their graduate
school orientation that will involve self assessments
for each.  It is so important that this part of
technical professionals education is incorporated
as it is so often missed or at least delayed so that
reflection and use of the learning can be part of
their education.

Our session incorporated concepts put forward
by Tom Vanderbilt and Daniel Goleman on how
Myers-Briggs, Values and Behaviors instruments
might be used.  Vanderbilt clarifies that our
“likes” form our identity and often are habitual
and we may not have a “why” or words to describe
categories and choices under specific
Goleman brings up the psychology of interpersonal
behavior  that brings in self-knowledge and logical
understanding of others values, behaviors and “likes”.
Equal time in our session involved actual exercise
engagements to point out how differences can be
systematic with groups identified by MBTI.

 - Who likes “small talk”, working by themselves,
who gains energy from crowds.
 - Pointing out the difference between the
“golden rule” [treat others like we want to be treated]
and the

“platinum rule” [treat others like they want to be
 - revealing habits of J vs. P profiles [again without
reflection and considering “why”] in working on
projects due in a month. [early starters vs pressure
 - hands on activity of selecting, building and
explaining a group toy project that emphasized
using creativity.
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Trends in Technical Careers. Life Cycle Analysis
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:21 pm

One of the evolving trends in chemical fields but not
often developed in education programs is life cycle
.  I learned about this as part of reviewing
EPA proposals.  This was one of the aspects that proposals
could enhance their consideration for support. 

Only one proposal incorporated an LCA.

What motivated entering this topic into the blog also was seeing
LCA in a psychology and ’science of attention’ book by
Daniel Goleman.  He talks about human brains’ ability to
have a razor-sharp focus on certain things, like smiles, frowns,
growls and babies, while we have “zero radar” for threats to the
global systems that support human life.

Goleman talks about LCA profiles using glass making as
his example which has 659 ingredients in its manufacture. 
There are “too many factors to assess.”  We need, however, to
focus in on a manageable number in  meaningful patterns to
deal with them

For the present readership BASF and SKB 2  have delivered
meaningful ACS presentations on how they have developed
Life Cycle Inventories and assessments for specific processes.
They used a process flow  diagram that has co-products and side
reactions, energy inputs and outputs for sustainable development

Life Cycle Analysis is as meaningful an area for technical people to
have some grounding in as hazards analysis and review

LCA is life cycle assessment, also known as ‘cradle-to-grave,’ analyzes
the human impacts of a product’s life from cradle to grave.  Wikipedia
describes Life Cycle Supply Chain, Life Cycle Inventory and Total
Life Cycle Impacts.

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Wise Skill. Intentional Attention
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:05 pm

Do you look into TED Talks every once in a while like
I do?  I find many engaging and helpful.  One by Peter
caught my attention recently that seemed
related to a recent book, article and podcast of  Daniel
.   It wasn’t until I listened to Randi
podcast that they all made sense to me.
…retroactive sensemaking… an Aha moment.

Intentional Attention is an important skill to master.

Randi (of Facebook fame) made the case best for me. 
There are two ends of the spectrum.  Those whose lifestyles
are strongly disrupted and interrupted by modern social media.
The second end are people who are resistant to change
and will not adapt. 

Both ends lose out.  This is where Doolittle and Goleman
come in.

Goleman makes a strong case for needing to manage
the modern 24-7 hyper media and diagnoses where over
use leads to loss of “cognitive control” and an “empathy
gap”.  He also poses that too much addiction leads individuals
to laser focus into the present and narrow, losing sight of
others and of the wider world. 

Doolittle and Goleman both offer intentional attention
management skills
building up the “attention focus muscle”
identifying tools, systems and practices that can be used
and offering that we need to proactively employ the modern
social media with:
  -Mindful moments  [meditate to sharpen our focus]
  -Wise waiting [restrict and plan your digital and fun times]
  -Unit tasking [small wins each day with and away from media]
  -Digital awareness [personal mindfulness of best practices
  where media enriches, solves problems, enhances creativity]
  -Mindful transitions [permit ‘open awareness’ to unconsciously
  solve problems]
  -Scheduled digital “detox”  [creative cocoon]  and
  -Focusing signals to task at hand.

Learn that our short term memory has a limited capacity.
Assess information systematically by asking questions and
seeing where it fits
.  Determine if it is knowledge that it is
elaborative or illustrative
.  Have a “capture mechanism” allowing
you to come back and reconsider.  Fit it into a structure
where you can share with others with meaning and example.

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Recommended Reading on Behaviors and Career Management Issues
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:46 am

At the end of the Professional Development class an
interested person asked for some additional relevant
reading references.  This is the second listing of outstanding
books that I recommend:  (First)

Tara Bennett-Goleman, Mindwhsipering:  A new map
to freedom from self-defeating emotional habits
Harper Collins, NY 2013

Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How self-control
works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it
Avery Penguin NY, 2012

Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, The New Digital Age: 
Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business
Alfred A Knopf NY 2013

Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock When everything happens
Current Penguin Group NY, 2013

Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander,
Surfaces and Essences:  Analogy as the fuel and fire of
Basic Books, Perseus Group, NY, 2013

Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check: The irreverent guide to
outsmarting, outmanaging and out-marketing your
, Portfolio Penguin Group 2008

 Samuel Arbesman, The Half Life of Facts: Why
everything we know has an expiration date

Current of the Penguin Group, 2012

Liz Wiseman Multipliers:  How the best leaders
make everyone smarter, 
Harper Business, NY 2010

Charles Wheelan, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread
from the Data,
WW Norton & Co, NY 2013

Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What
Motivates Us

Riverhead Books, Penguin NY 2009

 Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch:  How to change things
when change is hard
, Cengage Learning, Detroit

Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma,
Harper Business 1997, 2000

Sarah Horowitz, Freelandcers Bible, 2012

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness:  the Hidden
role of chance in life and in the markets
, Second Ed.,
RandomHouse, 2004
                                      , Anti-Fragile

Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a mind:  A secret of Human
thought revealed
, Viking, 2012

Frank Partnoy, Wait:  The art and science of delay,
Perseus Book Public Affairs, NY 2012

Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone:  And other Secrets to
Success, One relationship at a Time,
Currency Doubleday, NY, 2005

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit:  Why we do
what we do in life and business
Random House, NY 2012

Martin Lindstrom, Brandwashed:  Tricks companies
use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy

Crown Business NY, 2011

Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty:  How
we lie to everyone—especially ourselves
HarperCollinsNY 2012

Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites,
Crown Publishers,
NY 2012

David McRaney, You are not so smart: why you can have
too many friends on Facebook, why your money is
mostly fiction and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself,
Gotham books,
Penguin 2011

Gary Marcus, Guitar Zero: The new Musician and the
Science of Learning,
Penguin Press New York ,



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Graduate School Decision. What to do with my PhD?
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:45 am

It seems quite strange to me, being an industrial scientist-
manager-researcher, turned semi-academic, to hear my
colleagues talk about alternate careers in industry as going
to the “dark side,” so to speak.  It is a common attitude many
students and post-docs speak to me about.  [Their PIs often
say, if you go into industry or government or commercial
fields, you will not be able to follow your passions any
longer.  Your life will be dominated by profit-loss-risk
and your motivations will be “less-pure.”]

To give it legs, my colleague R. Bretz [an academic] shared
a blog piece about NIH offering “non-academic career
” for PhDs and Post-docs.  One of its pillars
is the writing of C. Fuhrmann as she relates to the biomedical
.  [but it seems many academics ascribe to this line of

Perhaps wiser perspectives on the matter of choice of
career paths, in many scientific, engineering and technology
fields are offered in the comments section of a “harebrained
scheme for science curriculum training
People should resist the temptation of the “path of least
resistance” of going to grad school because I got good grades
in courses and seemed to like the free flow of ideas in an
academic setting.  They might want to take up, as we have in
certain programs, a realistic self assessment and tactical
action plan of exploring different career paths
.  It is more
“have you thought about going into business or consulting?”
   2   3   4 

It puts students in the self imposed position of asking themselves
without recrimination and with data of likely outcomes in terms
of life span paths, what does it mean if I earn my PhD in
biochemistry or physics or electrical or computer engineering?
In the view of academic career paths, it means needing to do
a post-doc or two over the next three to five years.  Then, tirelessly
working to develop your application package before similar
challenging grant-seeking applications, with tighter and tighter
funding scenarios
In the view of industrial career paths, there are different challenges
many of which are hard to predict.  Thus, the uncertainty dilemma.
Nonetheless, we have been trained in our careers to reduce
uncertainty by experiment and gain perspective by asking good
questions and make progress despite challenges and uncertainty.

Government service positions can be assessed, yet often involve
doing a post-doc in a government lab.  It seems to be a combination
of academic tenure process and willingness to change directions
as in industry. 

There are other entrepreneurial routes that should be explored and
paths not defined because they have not existed before and we will
be developing them.  Again, this is what the graduate degree program
has been teaching us if we have been paying attention.

Thanks for sharing, Rich.

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Self-assessment. Emotional Understanding_ underappreciated characteristic
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:24 am

When we open ourselves up for examination to find
what makes ourselves tick, motivated and happy,
your skills, interests [often called values and drivers]
, and work style are common facets.  Company culture
revealing how things get done and communicated and
its match to our perceptions comes to fore usually
after a while, too.  A fifth feature that is not often
highlighted, but is essential in working with teams or
customers is your Emotional Understanding.

Daniel Goleman is one of the leaders in describing
the importance of this aspect.  Goleman describes
his academic portrait in his book, The Emotionally
Intelligent Workplace.
  Interviewers consciously
or unconsciously probe for this in often subtle ways.

Are you aware if you are patient with others?
Are you comfortable with a constantly changing
Are you cool under pressure?  Do you know the
  difference between pressure and stress– in yourself
  and others?

How do you respond?

I like Goleman’s view of emotional intelligence as having
at least four components:
  self awareness- what are your feelings in different
      situations;  how do you respond or react/your
  self-management- what tactics do you use to engage
      the behaviors you desire as fitting
  social awareness- how well do you observe and
       perceive the behaviors of others and know how to
       respond to the emotions of others
  relationship management- honing your emotional
       skills to effectively manage your interactions with
       others; including listening,encouraging diplomacy
       and debate, orchestrating win-win outcomes, reaching
       symbiotic understanding in negotiations.
Developing stories to evoke these is important in
interviewing, giving presentations and mentoring.


Cultural Shifts. Sustainability
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 9:41 am

What are you looking for in your employer? 
What are you looking for in your investments?
… in the supplier of yours and your company’s
products?  It used to be cost and quality, then
it included customer and community service.
Integrity, transparency and being leaders in
their field seem to make sense.  So does the
concept of “sustainability.” 

Environmental excellence is not at most people’s
foremost item on their list.  Not yet.  It could
become if trends speed up and segmentation
separates high-quality/low-impact companies
from low-cost/high-impact companies.

While there remains some controversy over
implementation and interpretation, the life
cycle assessment concept that Daniel Goleman
highlights is something to consider or ask about
when deciding firms to work for.

An interesting article about implementation of
sustainability in chemical business models gives
the leading firms involved in this cultural shift
calling upon the three ’swarm rules’
      Know your impacts
      Favor improvements
      Share what you learn

If ’sustainability’ is an important criterion for
your work, look at the job site 1

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Conversations. Over use and suggestions for email
Filed under: Recent Posts
Posted by: site admin @ 11:07 am

We are carrying on a long distance
conversation.  We are doing some
of it by email.  Did you notice
much email
you get these days,
how much each of us depend on it
and how we get home or have a minute
and want to “check our email”?

Daniel Goleman wrote a nice piece
opening up several ideas that can be
shared with you.  In the article, he states
“E-mail [and other CMC]… has a
multitude of virtues … quick and
democratizes access
and lets us … accomplish huge
amounts of work together… 
greatest when there is trouble at hand.”
[CMC– “computer mediated communication,”
see K. Byron, Whatman School of
Management, Syracuse University]

“But … e-mail may subtly encourage … trouble …
[It encounters] a ’design flaw’ [when
humans use it to interact].  There are
no online channels for the multiple
signals the brain uses to calibrate emotions.”

“Face-to-face interaction, by contrast,
is information-rich. We interpret what
people say to us not only from their
tone and facial expressions, but also
from their body language and pacing,
as well as their synchronization with
what we do and

“… e-mail can be emotionally impoverished
when it comes to nonverbal messages that
add … rich emotional context ..”

Sue Shellenberger
 has authored a
piece about companies promoting ‘no
email’ days to encourage more face to face
interactions.  The point of all this is that
email has unrecognized limitations.

So, what should you consider to
communicate clearly on the internet?

Make sure the subject line (email)
or title (blog) reflects your content     

- Use appropriate words and phrases. 
If your mood is not right, it may be
reflected in the words you choose. 
Review it and send it later.


- Brevity and smart organization encourages
people to read the whole message

- Selectively use information on the Internet. 
You don’t know where it will go or how it will be used.

- Understand copyright laws and citation rules of thumb

- Delete and do not forward spam and chain letters


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