After spending 15 years in a variety of roles within Emission Control Technologies, Alexandra has recently moved to Noble Metals as Sales and Marketing Director

Alexandra French, MA Natural Science from St Catharine's College, Cambridge; joined Johnson Matthey in 1997 as a graduate chemist.

From Cambridge to Johnson Matthey

I joined Johnson Matthey in 1997 as a graduate chemist having studied Natural Sciences at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. I was keen to find a job in which I would use my technical degree but also work for a company that offered lots of different opportunities. I certainly haven't been disappointed with the variety and experience that Johnson Matthey has been able to offer me.

In my first 15 years I held a number of different roles within our Emission Control Technologies (ECT) business, all of which have been exciting, challenging and rewarding. After a couple of years as a Product Development Chemist developing new catalyst technologies for gasoline vehicles, I moved into a small scale production management role within our Prototype Samples group.

This role enabled me to gain people management experience very early on in my career. I then decided to move into a commercial role and joined the ECT Sales and Marketing team.

Moving to commercial

As a member of the Sales team for very technical products it meant that I still had to draw on my technical background and this was one of the aspects I particularly enjoyed about my Account Manager and Business Manager roles. I also enjoyed the variety that the jobs offered.

As the first point of contact for all aspects relating to the customer account, I found myself involved with commercial, technical, project management, finance, logistics, quality or any other issues. It was very satisfying to work on a programme for a number of years and then finally see that vehicle launched to the public.

A global network

While my responsibilities were within our European division, I also supported programmes anywhere in the world that also use European emissions legislation. This gave me the opportunity to work with customers and Johnson Matthey colleagues throughout the globe including China, India, Malaysia, South America and Australia.

Customer focus

After ten years in ECT Sales and Marketing I moved into ECT's Regional Quality department as a Customer Quality Manager responsible for our German customers. These are customers I previously had no dealings with but who held a very high profile within the business so it was interesting and challenging to understand and negotiate all their quality requirements and ensure that these were clearly communicated and implemented across ECT departments and manufacturing sites worldwide.

As a department we are also put a lot of focus on standardisation – in the way we worked, in the specification documentation we produced and across all sites and customers.

Trying something new

After 15 years within the ECT side of the business I moved into a different part of Johnson Matthey and back into the sales environment as Sales and Marketing Director for our Noble Metals Europe business. It has been very exciting to be involved in what was for me a completely new area of the business with different products, different customers, different challenges and lots of potential to develop the business going forward.

We have recently restructured the business into a truly global entity and I am now Global Commercial Director for our Industrial Products business with teams across the globe. Taking a global approach is enabling us to really utilise our expertise and maximise the value we can offer to our customers.

Thoughts on Johnson Matthey

I have found it so rewarding to work for a company that placed a lot of trust in me and gave me the opportunity to make important decisions affecting our business from very early on in my career. I also value the ability to move roles both within a division and also between divisions so that I can continue to develop new skills and remain in a challenging role.