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In our series of Team Talk we’re with our Senior Development Chemist David Whitehead. He has been in his current role for four years, and was a Development Chemist previous to that for four years.
What was your career path to your role?
Previous to working at Holchem I spent 30 years as a Surface Coatings Chemist specialising in specialist coatings, aerosol applications, colour matching and vehicle re-finish. I then joined Holchem as a Development Chemist eight years ago. I have stayed in the same department ever since.
What responsibilities does your job include? My role is to develop new products and ensure that they work! All our products must be cost effective/commercially viable and must comply with current (usually EU) legislation. For some market sectors, they must also fulfil the customer’s perception of what the product should be.
What is the favourite part of your job?
The creativity of solving a product requirement using chemistry. In other words, doing what I do every day. I do need to go out into the field and visit a customer sites. I enjoy this because it gives me an insight into how our products are used, some of the pitfalls out there and how this nation feeds itself!
What does a ‘typical day’ look like for you?
The first thing I do is answer overnight e-mails. I then plan and carry out any benchwork required, sit down and wonder why it doesn’t work and then ask myself “What if…...”. Go back to the bench and make it work/try out my new ideas.
Next I take on technical enquiries from customers and our own field sales force. Finally, I complete any paperwork associated with a new product.
What would your dream job be?
Apart from being a rock star or an airline pilot, probably what I do now!
Tell us about your interests outside of work
“I’m an avid collector of watches. I own 33 at the last count and still wear most (not all) of them. My main interest out of work is now music. I spend a lot of time in my very own recording studio. I am currently ready to release my second album - all original music composed, performed and recorded by me. Every Tuesday night, I play with a bunch of guys in a pub - just to keep my hand in with other musicians and stop me from becoming a "dining-room guitarist". We play folk, Irish, bluegrass and a bit of jazz.”