This week , we’re featuring an Industrial Chemist as the “Professional of The Week”. It was yet another enlightening interview and I encourage every professional or budding professional out there to read on.
Name: Wilson E.
Profession: Industrial Chemist
1. Why did you choose Industrial Chemistry as your profession?
Growing up, I did not have a particular career fascination like most people that will say they always wanted to be a Medical Doctor from a young age. My thing was that I did not want a profession that will be limiting. I wanted a profession that will open me up to many options and also one that will be relevant in virtually every sector. Therefore when I had to make a decision on a profession to work towards, I chose industrial chemistry because it meets that criteria. I always enjoyed science subjects and while at secondary school my favourite subjects included chemistry and physics. I also took this into consideration when I had to decide on my profession.
2. What is the best thing about your profession?
My job involves inspection and auditing of health facilities and products. It gives me the opportunity to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the nation by ensuring that fake drugs and counterfeit products are not in circulation.
3. What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
As a regulatory officer, in the Establishment and Inspectorate Directorate (EID) my work involves auditing of establishments engaged in manufacture, sale, storage, distribution and use of foods, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics , chemicals etc. I also conduct inspection of foreign establishments intending to register and sell their products in Nigeria. I get involved in a wide range of activities on a daily basis. I may have a scheduled inspection to an establishment intending to register, surveillance inspection, recertification inspection, production inspection, inspection for an alert of a substandard product or an advocacy visit. I also attend workshops and trainings which are very vital for my profession. In addition to my duties as a Regulatory Officer, I am involved in training of Youth Corpers belonging to the Community Development Service (CDS) group of my organization of which I am the Desk Officer. I am also involved in the investigation of consumer complaints/alert notices, collecting samples of regulated products for lab analysis, carryout post marketing surveillance etc.
4. What qualifications are you working towards (trainings, degrees etc)?
I have a B. Tech (Hons) in Industrial Chemistry. I am currently working towards attaining an M.Sc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Soon as I complete this course I intend to work towards attaining a PHD in Public Health. I also plan to complete training on cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration, USFDA) so I can work anywhere in the world in collaboration with FDA, USFDA , and other regulatory agencies. With my qualification, I could later work as a consultant to any international organisation or work my way up the ranks in my current place of employment.
5. What advise will you give to someone interested in Industrial Chemistry as a profession?
As the saying goes “good things are not easy to acquire”, you must work hard and be focused. Industrial Chemistry is a vast course that encompasses all aspect of the sciences. It’s a profession that is relevant everywhere in the world. It also opens you to a lot of sectors and has a broad career path. The motor of a chemist is “what a deformed world without a chemist” so with this knowledge, you have an understanding that Chemists are the most important in the world. All regulatory bodies such as Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Food and Drugs Agency of Nigeria (NAFDAC) need the expertise of Industrial Chemists which means you have a lot of job opportunities if you are in the profession.
6. What skills will you advice current and aspiring students of Industrial Chemistry to acquire/develop?
As a chemist, first of all you need to know your periodic table very well and it should always be fresh in your memory. Also, learn how to balance equations. It’s also important to gain practical experience as a backing up to the theories you have learnt. So your Industrial Training (IT) is a very important part of your career development. I graduated from a University of Technology where we go for a whole year Industrial Training and this exposed me to a real work environment and I was opportune to experience practical situations which cannot be thought in the classroom.
Team work skill is very important. Most of my work is done in teams. You cannot achieve much in the profession if you are not a good team player. Also, communication skill is tied into it too because you need to have good communication skills to interact properly with those you work with. I attend audits with teams which must comprise of not less than 2 inspectors and there is always a post inspection and pre-inspection meeting to ensure the work is carried out effectively. This cannot be done effectively with poor communication or team work skills.
7. In your profession, is it a barrier if your degree is not in Industrial Chemistry?
Yes it is a barrier. The backbone of my profession is chemistry. An individual without a knowledge of chemistry already lacks the foundation that is needed to start and grow in this profession.
8. Do you have any other interests you pursue outside your profession as an Industrial Chemist?
I love swimming because it is a lot of fun as well as active. I normally go swimming on weekends. I am a big Chelsea fan, so I follow the EPL. I also enjoy keeping up with current affairs on TV and newspapers.