About CSci

Back to the results
Ivan Vince
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Scientist Type: 
First Degree: 
Biochemistry and Pharmacology
Works For: 
Pet Hates: 
Muzak, mortality, impossible people
Burning Ambition: 
“To achieve immortality through not dying” (Woody Allen)
Immortality (NB with eternal youth, of course.)
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
An explorer. (Disqualified by total lack of sense of direction.)
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
My father is a doctor. Chemistry was full of bangs, smells and colours, and I was drawn to the apparent irregularity of it: rules always seemed to have exceptions – like irregular verbs
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
My work is applied, or second hand, science. At its best, it’s problem solving. I love the variety and the challenge, especially those projects where I don’t immediately see the way to a solution
What would you change? 
After 27 years, it would be nice to have a reliable, regular income
What qualifications did you take at school? 
This was in Sydney – a different system from UK. First Class Hons in Chemistry and Latin, A’s in Physics, Maths I, Maths II and English
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Even more irregular verbs than in straight Chemistry
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
Yes, both (in Combustion Science)
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
The full mouthful: consultancy in health, safety & environment
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
Nothing – apart from the occasional possibility of using techniques from one industry, say oil & chemicals, to solve problems in another, eg the health service
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Whoops – I seem to have forgotten about a legacy…
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
No such thing, fortunately. Some days are devoted to quiet study, eg literature searches at RSC or in the British Library, or re-learning theory for a difficult case; some are full of frantic interruptions, like any office; there are days spent in court or public inquiry giving expert evidence; there are site visits in UK and abroad
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
This will be brief. I left academe gradually in 1982-83, at the end of my second post-doc stint, set up as a free-lance consultant & here I still am. Never had a proper job
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Very much so. I need to be a jack of the following trades: chemistry (inorganic, organic and physical), physics (heat transfer, atmospheric dispersion and deposition), combustion science (physics and chemistry), maths, incl statistics, with a soupcon of toxicology and ecotoxicology, prose composition (communicating with courts and lay clients) and diplomacy (ditto)
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? The hourly rate is good, but the annual income doesn’t measure up. Sometimes there’s not enough work, other times the work is overwhelming, leaving no time for marketing and thus preparing the next famine, and sometimes one needs to work unbudgeted & thus unpaid hours in order to complete a job professionally (in addition to pro bono work). Starting salary may be in £K mid-twenties & can rise to £80-100K or even higher – but I’m not well informed about salaries, never having had one as a consultant
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
Much of the science has matured over the last 20-30 years. However, there are new and strange hazards which will challenge the profession, eg nanoparticles, carbon storage etc – and somehow we will need to develop systems for assessing and ranking security risks
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
How young and brash it makes you feel – it’s a shock, sometimes, to realise I’m the oldest person in the room
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Playing a small but crucial part in a court case which saved a farmer’s livelihood and led to the closing down of a nasty pollution source.
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Living standard OK, though ever precarious; work-life balance dreadful – and not because I’m a workaholic
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They seem interested, some genuinely, others politely. My oldest child has a Chemistry degree and is a science journalist with a very strong interest in environmental science
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Music, theatre (have Equity card, will travel), dead and dying languages, ancient history, travel to cold places, skiing, mooching about on moors, music.
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
To be brutally frank, I thought a few more letters wouldn’t come amiss (they haven’t) and the grandfathering scheme made the application easy
What is the value of professional bodies? 
They assist individuals in the profession in all sorts of ways, they give a unified voice to the profession and they give the public confidence through ethical oversight – codes of behaviour etc
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
CPD is clearly vital in any scientist’s career, particularly where the scientist is scarcely or not at all engaged in original research, but is retailing other people’s work, as I do. Revalidation is a good idea, as long as it is kept simple and informal
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Ask yourself if you have a head for business. If not, team up with someone who has
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
I can’t comment generally. I believe I have been useful as a mentor to my junior associate, who after 5 years or so is now almost a fully fledged consultant. I myself learned a great deal from my first client, a chemical engineer who had started his own consultancy
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I would team up with a trustworthy partner who has a business brain & track record to prove it
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
He saved some lives and some patches of the environment. Did very little harm
Back to the results