Dan started as a research chemist before moving into Market Research, managed a team of fuel cell analysts and now manages a larger team of information analysts
Dan Carter, MChem (Hons) from the University of Wales, Swansea and a PhD from the University of Nottingham researching catalysis in supercritical fluids; joined Johnson Matthey Chemicals in 2003 as a development chemist.
Five years in: What advice can Dan give?
From day one I was given the opportunity to run projects developing novel catalysts for the chemicals and petroleum refining industries. Success in these projects led to the scale up and commercialisation of a number of catalysts, allowing me to work with our production staff manufacturing catalysts on a commercial scale.
Learning and applying new skills
In a change to my core skills in chemistry, I also had the chance to lead a project assessing and optimising Johnson Matthey's heterogeneous catalyst production methods. This was a more engineering based assignment and involved the testing of new equipment and research into spray coating technologies; it was both fun and challenging to learn new skills and apply them to real world problems.
Two and a half years on, I left the familiar surroundings of the chemistry lab and joined the Precious Metals Marketing business as part of the Market Research team. The team forecasts the global supply and demand of platinum group metals, done through a combination of talking to internal Johnson Matthey sales contacts, visits to customers and competitors, and attending conferences and trade fairs. Johnson Matthey uses the information produced for strategic planning purposes and to promote the company as the knowledge leader in precious metals.
My responsibilities originally included forecasting demand for platinum group metals in the chemicals, dental and petroleum refining industries but evolved to include analysing the electronics and fuel cell markets.
Travel is a big part of the job with regular visits to Europe and the Far East; it's always interesting to visit new countries and experience their cultures, and the food can make for some interesting stories when you get home!
Where Dan is now
How has your career progressed since the video was filmed?
Since the video was filmed I progressed further in the role I was in at the time, gaining more responsibility as a Senior Analyst and team leader responsibilities, training new analysts joining the Market Research team.
After doing that for two years I got the opportunity to lead a team of my own and I moved into the management position for Fuel Cell Today, which was an online news and analysis service focusing on the fuel cell industry, so slightly more specific in its remit than the broader precious metal remit I had in the past, but we had a lot more responsibility and autonomy for the type of work we chose to publish. I led the Fuel Cell Today team for three years and now I have continued along a similar theme – I am currently managing a team of 12 information analysts as part of the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre.
What we do is manage the flow of information into the company for R&D, business and marketing purposes; so that can be anything from patent information surrounding Johnson Matthey's freedom to operate and controlling our intellectual property, to scientific research to inform the researchers, right the way through to up-to-the-minute market information for the business units; and to help the company search out new areas in which it can operate, either through organic growth or through acquiring companies already operating in those areas.
The team also publishes a peer-reviewed journal, the Johnson Matthey Technology Review, and that publishes peer-reviewed articles which focus on technologies of interest to Johnson Matthey. This is quite a broad focus not exclusive to precious metals but also including base metal materials, battery technologies, water technologies, and any other area relating to technologies that are manufactured by Johnson Matthey.
On a personal level, gaining the added responsibility through my time as Senior Analyst with team leader responsibilities, to managing my own small team and the budget responsibilities that come with that has now been expanded to managing a larger team with a much larger budget and I have sequentially raised my profile within the company. I'm now in a very visible, relatively high profile position, which I would hope could only be good for future career progression.
My current role is still relatively new to me but because the Technology Forecasting and Information group works with all Johnson Matthey businesses I see it as a great opportunity to expand my knowledge to encompass all Johnson Matthey technologies and from there it would be quite easy to find an area of specialism and continue my career through that route.