About CSci

  • Mansur Mohammadi
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Mansur Mohammadi
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
North West
First Degree: 
BSc Chemistry
Research Scientist
Port Sunlight
Works For: 
Unilever R & D
BSc, MSc, MSc, PhD
Pet Hates: 
Radioactive materials, grumpy old men, specialists, cats,
Burning Ambition: 
Write biography of scientist, teaching yoga, speaking a few languages, becoming a comedian, finding an allotment
If there was no cross to carry, healing.
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
When I was a child and up to my ‘GCSE’ classes I always hid from the teachers in the classroom so they would not ask me any questions. Hearing words like hydrogen or algebra or trigonometry would send shockwaves through my system. I hated myself for being daft. At this stage in my life wanted to be the invisible man
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
Finally in the last year in my ‘GCSE’, two days before the chemistry exam, decided to do something about my academic insolvency. The downing of the realisation of my chronic failures over the entire primary and secondary school years was in itself a moment of grace. I decided to talk to one of my classmates who always sat on the corner in the class and hardly interacted with anyone, a sort of neutral guy. I asked if it was possible to turn myself round for the chemistry exam. He said ‘the way to do it is to find a book that its style clicks with you and learn it from that book’. I asked if such books existed. He took me to a bookshop and showed me a book, much like the Attkins physical chemistry book included solutions to the questions. I could not afford it, so decided to liberate it temporarily from the bookshop! That single book changed my life. I realised that any subject can be learned from the right book or method and that I was not daft after all. That classmate was my guardian angel. I do not remember his face or his name; he was placed there for me! I had the best chemistry mark in the exam only after two days studying that book and from there on got interested in chemistry and searched the book shops for chemistry books to give me the edge. In an English bookshop in Isfahan, my home town, I found a general chemistry book written by Russians academics for Indian universities. This book instilled the love of chemistry in me and through it I felt invincible.
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Solving problems. There are always problems cropping up – there is no weed-free lawn. Things go wrong with new formulations and new inventions; processing and production issues, products thickening, separating, or thinning, ingredients decomposing. Finding a simple solution to solve these problems within a short time without incurring extra cost and complications is what makes my job so exciting
What would you change? 
Not much, just allow more time to contemplate in the early stages of any new project for a better design and systematic approach
What qualifications did you take at school? 
A diploma (this was the equivalent of an A level) but with some 12 subject rather than 4
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
When the university forms came I had no idea what I wanted to do so asked a friend who had more experience what subject shall I go for. He said without a doubt, medicine. I said my experience with doctors has not been impressive so it would be a waste of patient’s time to do medicine! He said what do you love? I said chemistry, and the rest is history.
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I ask them what products they use and if they include the ones I have worked on or invented then tell them I do that, if not, I mention the brands I work on and that gets them excited about the amount of science that takes to make them happen
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
Often we have to use the latest developments in the scientific understanding of the subject we work on or its adjacent science areas to solve the problem at hand so that mining of solutions and the ‘synthesis’ of approaches is cutting edge stuff. Also a deeper understanding of the problem areas can be cutting-edge. Of course ideas that we generate to fulfil a consumer need and how we use science to formulate that need are most of the time cutting edge too
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Innovating to create wealth with less resources and less stress for our planet, so ‘formulate = less th<n Cfootprint ‘.
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Getting back on the bench to test the validity of new ideas, complete a patent specification, final touches to a paper or report, presenting my work to the team, managing a lunch time run with colleagues
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
My career has developed along two parallel lines, one internal to me where new learning has widened my horizon and led to new ability and hence the sense of satisfaction from my job, and, one external where this has been recognized by colleagues, the business and the wider scientific community
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Product innovation and implementation by necessity involves many disciplines involving, statistics, mathematics, physics, physical chemistry, chemistry, bio-chemistry, marketing, engineering, analytical techniques etc
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
During my career of some 20 years my salary has increased by a factor of 3. I have no idea of current starting salaries, they have not kept up with times as is the endemic of the rest of the country, and interest rates are low though!
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
The intellectual, creative and the ability to think of more novel and daring concepts both for meeting consumer needs, for better formulation and for scientific advance will grow and be valued. The implementation and the doing seems to be farmed out to China and India more and more for economic and efficiency reasons, a trend to be to be welcomed to force the growth of intellectual capital here
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Do not know, shifting politics I suppose, but that is not unexpected!
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Generalising the Pascal triangle for NMR peak splitting of spins > ½.
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Definitely a good standard of family life, good kids education, and fortunate to also have a very balanced life and not institutionalised by my career. I suppose the main reason being that I loved the job it was just an extension of the fun side of problem solving and I realise it could be done better if I was not too serious about it; a little detachment a day keeps the job at bay.
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
Friends think I own the place, too good a work-life balance and family henpeck me to stop working so hard
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
The first thing I do when I get up is yoga, nothing else matters so no breakfast and wasting time in the kitchen or on news papers. A 3-4 running sessions with friends, watching a movie or two, doing crosswords, scrabble or other puzzles with family, definitely cooking keep the blood level of angst chemicals at a healthy level
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I liked the letters and the standard that it entails. We always need to raise our game and there is nothing better than a peer body to do set the high standards for us to elevate ourselves by.
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Recognition, belonging and camaraderie, getting and giving help, networking, improved standards.
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
I think it is a must otherwise rot rises. Revalidation is the ‘sell-by-date’ check to ensure freshness.
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Be prepared to learn hard and explore the fringes. Master a few management techniques (mind-mapping is a must minimum, listen to mind improving new CDs. Never go without at least one hour of intense aerobic activity involving heavy sweating per day, it engenders the right endo-chemicals to help one cope with the pace of today’s consumer goods industries. It is all in the expectations and the mind set; expect and embrace a rough ride and as far as the science of it is concerned pay attention to details where the devil lies in its depth; that is the sign of a good practitioner.
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
In yoga one is seriously advised to have a ‘guru’.
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Attention to details and striving for beauty
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
Pay a little attention to the politics of the place and learn how people tick, the psychology of it
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
Relationships and equations!
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