Looking Back

my notebooks

I don’t have my lab books to work from, but I have kept a lot of notes over the years. In particular I have a set of hard backed notebooks, photo above, which I have used for various jottings and note taking. I have been dipping into them while working up my spa range ideas. It is easy to get distracted by them though. They go back to 1992 and there are a lot of memories in them.

One of the things I now realise, and wish I realised sooner, is that there are some projects that really don’t do much for you. In particular, the rush jobs where you are just knocking something out quickly never really ever come to anything. I am thinking of things like quick responses to another company’s successful launch. Or an idea for a product that somebody has just thought up and thinks nobody has thought of before.

At the other end of the scale are the projects where there was never a clear idea in the first place and which drift around with frequent changes in direction and new briefs. These don’t stretch you much either, and are huge wastes of time.

The interesting thing is that I have much more stuff to draw from my time in pharmaceuticals that is applicable to cosmetics than the other way around. In fact I can point to whole years working on cosmetic projects where I didn’t produce anything that seems to me now to be of any use for the future. I suppose I have to accept most of the blame for this for myself. If I was working away clocking up the hours but not really achieving very much, then that was primarily my own fault. But I think at the very least the way the company I was working for at the time managed its projects – or to be strictly accurate didn’t manage its projects – contributed a lot to it.

Looking back I wish I had simply moved on rather than going through the motions. But project work does have a quality about it that makes you want to stay and finish things off before you start something else and this can make you stay somewhere longer than is really wise. But if there are any formulators out there who are reading this looking for tips for their own careers, I would say don’t stay somewhere if you aren’t finding the work challenging. It is often tempting, especially if the conditions are good and you like the people you are working with. But in the end, if you aren’t producing stuff you look back on with pride you will end up regretting it.

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