Philip joined Johnson Matthey's Technology Centre after a sponsored PhD and worked on catalyst and zeolite projects before becoming Head of R&D for Renewables and Catalysts

Philip Hughes, PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Manchester; joined Johnson Matthey in 2006 as a Research Scientist

I joined Johnson Matthey in 2006 after completing my PhD at the University of Manchester and began working in the corporate research team at the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre (JMTC) in Billingham. My PhD had been sponsored by Johnson Matthey so I already had some exposure to both Chilton and Sonning Common Technology Centres having spent time at them during my studies.

Gaining and applying knowledge

My initial project focused on the development of supports for Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. Being part of JMTC gave me the opportunity to really concentrate my efforts on the area and delve into the background literature. It also afforded me a lot of exposure to different parts of the company; using my experience in catalytic support materials I was able to input into several project areas.

The highlight of this period for me was working with external collaborators in joint development programs. My research into the catalytic supports used in the FT process focused on several different areas including support/catalyst purity, effect of pore size and looking at modified supports for the next generation of catalysts. Following my work on Fischer-Tropsch supports I moved into a new area where I researched zeolites for refinery applications.

Moving into the business environment

In July 2010 I joined the Chemicals business and began looking at forming processes such as extrusion and tableting. After a short while within the team as a development scientist I was promoted to Regional R&D Manager and looked after the developments within the team at Chilton, covering technologies such as olefins and solvent applications.

In 2015 I became Head of R&D for renewables and catalysts in the Process Technologies Chemicals business. This gave me responsibility for the development of processes with renewable feedstocks. The Chemicals business offers a lot of variety in the work we do and requires a lot of collaboration across R&D, technical service, sales and commercial – it certainly is an exciting and challenging business to be a part of.

I get to spend a lot of time supporting the commercial teams on customer visits. This interaction with the end user of our products – to be able to discuss their issues and requirements directly with them and bring it directly back into the development team to drive a solution forward – is something that continually excites me.

Thoughts on Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey has always been an interesting place to work for me. The variety of challenges within each role is certainly enough to keep anyone entertained and good development opportunities are offered. In my experience the company is keen to grow people and listens to their aspirations to find the most suitable career path for each individual.