Aligning scientific expertise with passion for a career


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Antony Williams is the Vice President of Strategic Development for ChemSpider at the Royal Society of Chemistry. ChemSpider is one of the world’s primary online resources serving the chemistry community. Antony has a PhD in Chemistry specializing in NMR spectroscopy and has worked in a government laboratory, in academia, for a Fortune 500 company (Eastman Kodak), for a small start-up organization and has started two of his own companies prior to joining the Royal Society of Chemistry. During his career path he has experienced multiple work cultures. Antony will provide a short overview of his career path and discuss the various decisions that helped motivate his change in career from professional spectroscopist to website host and innovator to working for one of the world’s foremost scientific societies.

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Aligning scientific expertise with passion for a career

  1. 1. Aligning scientific expertise and passion through a career path in the chemical sciences Antony Williams ACS Denver August 28th 2011
  2. 2. Classical Chemists <ul><li>Make </li></ul><ul><li>Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Model </li></ul><ul><li>Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Write </li></ul>
  3. 3. Classical Chemists <ul><li>Make </li></ul><ul><li>Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Model </li></ul><ul><li>Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Write </li></ul>
  4. 4. Who am I today? <ul><li>I am VP Strategic Development, ChemSpider for the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) - publisher </li></ul><ul><li>Responsibility for the ChemSpider platform, cheminformatics projects, collaborations, business development, social marketing (presentations and publications) - cheminformatician </li></ul><ul><li>Oversee a team of people developing solutions for RSC - manager </li></ul><ul><li>I am @ChemConnector – social networker </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific publications - scientist </li></ul><ul><li>Blogger, writer of books - author </li></ul>
  5. 5. My background… <ul><li>Worked in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government lab as postdoc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academia as NMR Facility Manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fortune 500 Company as NMR Tech Leader </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start-up as product manager, marketing manager, Chief Science Officer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consultant – chemistry informatics industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Company owner – Created ChemSpider </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Now at Royal Society of Chemistry (bought ChemSpider) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. What have I learned in my career? <ul><li>Much time is spent working - not enjoying it is not an option </li></ul><ul><li>It is called “work” for a reason – if you enjoyed every moment it would be a hobby </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to sharpen your toolset as time and projects allow. Don’t fear going outside the box </li></ul><ul><li>“ Playing it safe” is a perfectly valid option – but rarely effects change and innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Use your head AND heart to make career choices </li></ul><ul><li>Say what you are going to do and do what you say – it defines your reputation as an employee </li></ul><ul><li>Careers are made – they don’t just happen </li></ul>
  7. 7. “ Work” versus “Passion” <ul><li>We all need to work but choose to work on things that give you a good emotional response… stimulate interest, lack of sleep, joy, obsession… </li></ul><ul><li>Develop new skills, step out of the box and extend yourself. What you know now is never enough… </li></ul><ul><li>Balance logical decisions with gut-level responses </li></ul><ul><li>Hope to work somewhere that supports your passion(s) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Education…B.Sc 1982-85 <ul><li>I always found Chemistry interesting….but never found it easy! </li></ul><ul><li>Master of crystallization and yield </li></ul><ul><li>Almost bottom of my class for PhysChem! – spectroscopy made no sense but was fascinating ! </li></ul><ul><li>Self-realization – “Beat the Challenge” – had to study it until I got it. </li></ul>
  9. 9. What brings you joy? <ul><li>Figure out early what brings you joy if you can (not so easy!) what drives you and what brings you joy? The list below fits for classical chemistry and for me: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating solutions to difficult problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building and playing with functional teams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicating complexities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acts of service for my community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working with people more skilled than me </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Post Doc 1988-90 <ul><li>Multiple offers for NMR Postdocs in USA (PhD studies) </li></ul><ul><li>One offer for ESR/EPR Postdoc in Canada </li></ul><ul><li>Why Canada? </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional decision … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploration is fun </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out of the box motivates </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. NMR Technology Leader, Kodak 1992-1997 <ul><li>Never synthesized anything again… </li></ul><ul><li>Business Driver: Do more analyses faster and with higher quality. Walk-up automation for analytical support, Get data to chemists, Reject bad data </li></ul><ul><li>Business Driver: Improve NMR Data analysis- can software outperform people for analysis ? </li></ul><ul><li>Business Driver: Sample tracking – LIMS as the internet was born </li></ul><ul><li>I became “ businessman in a scientific laboratory ” </li></ul><ul><li>And one day a phone call… and measuring data </li></ul>
  12. 12. ACD/Labs Start-up 1997-2007 <ul><li>Creativity at its best – new products, new markets, design work, marketing, good science </li></ul><ul><li>From NMR spectroscopist to deeply understanding chemical nomenclature, structure representation and databasing, data integration, and the web </li></ul><ul><li>My greatest joys – solving problems for people and innovating scientific solutions with computers </li></ul><ul><li>“ Vision is great, Execution is Better” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Can software outperform people? <ul><li>Chemistry skills into software – YES, software can outperform people in many areas!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Nomenclature generation, PhysChem prediction, NMR analysis, Structure Elucidation </li></ul>
  14. 14. ChemSpider – Skills and Passion <ul><li>An idea to use technology to spider data in an organization. Morphed to a vision to spider the internet and link all chemicals </li></ul><ul><li>Hobby project built in a basement – thousands of visitors a day. Judged harshly in the blogosphere but “beat the challenge” by engaging in it… </li></ul><ul><li>Acquired by RSC – chose them as the best partner to define the world of web-based chemistry </li></ul>
  15. 15. Social Networking in Science <ul><li>Career-wise, NOT having a personal presence online is likely already a detriment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Establishing a public profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting on the record </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative Science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrating a skill set </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measured using alternative metrics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributing to the public peer review process </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. LinkedIn
  17. 17. Chemistry Social Networking <ul><li>Methods of sharing MY science online include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis or blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Slideshare for presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube for videos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flickr, Wikimedia etc. for images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ChemSpider for chemistry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GoogleDocs for data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google Scholar Citations for citations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Microsoft Academic Scholar for papers </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. You will be a set of statistics <ul><li>Number of papers, patents, citations, grants, …. </li></ul>
  19. 20. You will be a set of statistics & profiles <ul><li>Number of papers, patents, citations, grants, …. </li></ul><ul><li>My Blog: </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Amazon Author Page: Follow Link to Author Page </li></ul><ul><li>My Klout: </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn: http:// </li></ul><ul><li>SlideShare: </li></ul><ul><li>Google Scholar Citations Profile: Antony Williams Citations </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher_ID: </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia : http :// </li></ul><ul><li>Mendeley Profile: </li></ul>
  20. 21. The Alt-Metrics Manifesto <ul><li> </li></ul>
  21. 22. Enabled by ORCID…
  22. 23. My day job as a chemist <ul><li>Make </li></ul><ul><li>Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Model </li></ul><ul><li>Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Write </li></ul><ul><li>Support the Chemistry Community </li></ul>
  23. 24. Conclusions…what worked for me.. <ul><li>I LOVE Chemistry – but never want to synthesize! </li></ul><ul><li>I have an attraction to magnets – but it’s all data! </li></ul><ul><li>Career choices should be head & heart decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Decide what motivates, excites and stimulates you over what puts food on the table. (Clearly driven by ability to eat!!!) </li></ul><ul><li>You are responsible for your reputation – build it and maintain it - and with online tools take charge of it! </li></ul><ul><li>Interview your boss – their support will be critical </li></ul><ul><li>Not every decision works out – but not making decisions is crippling </li></ul>
  24. 25. Thank you Email: Twitter: @ChemConnector Personal Blog: SLIDES: