Creating windows of opportunity

A company’s employees are its greatest asset. They are what push the company forward, driving its growth and development. So it only makes sense that organisations should also drive the growth of its workers. Enabling employees to be successful makes the company more successful.

This is more than just ensuring that the quality of work remains strong: it’s about letting people know that their futures are something employers are invested in.

Throughout March, our employees have been sharing their experiences and promoting opportunities within LGC that they have found helpful.

The apprentice

LGC apprentices met with Sir John Holman, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, at the beginning of March, gave him a tour of their labs, and spoke with the BBC about what their apprenticeship means to them.

LGC apprentices Jennifer Meacock and Renato Junior met with Prof Sir John Holman. © Royal Society of Chemistry/Richard Stonehouse

“I love it. I know some people go into work and dread it but I never have that feeling, I’m always enjoying it when I’m here,” said Jenny Meacock. “They don’t treat you like you know less than anyone else; you’re instantly treated as an equal.”

National Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March) brought attention to the fact that while more options are becoming available, less than one percent of all apprenticeships are in science, meaning there’s a gap that science organisations need to address.  And this is something that Chief Scientific Officer & Government Chemist Derek Craston understands.

Government Chemist Derek Craston (centre) with Richard Holliday (left) and Danny Ho (right). © Royal Society of Chemistry/Richard Stonehouse

“It’s an important way into science – skills are really important for organisations like ours,” explained Derek. “We do complex things that need good technical knowledge and good practical knowledge. The conventional route of just going through school and going onto university, works for some people, but it doesn’t work for all.”

In a previous blog post, apprentice Krzysztof Pilec shared how the apprenticeship scheme has worked for him, saying, “Overall I don’t think it is possible to be any happier with the choice of signing up for this apprenticeship. It has been an enjoyable, fun and incredibly educational time for me at this company as an apprentice.”

Leadership

LGC employees at our Alexandria, Minnesota and Madison, Wisconsin sites teamed up for training and workshops on 14-16 March in Alexandria.  One of many sessions to be executed across LGC, the training aims to create a culture of trust and respect, where leaders learn to consciously to adapt to various communication styles and involve team members in decision making.

LGC employees attend a leadership training session in the US.

Employees found the training to be not only a great opportunity to work together, but also a positive step in their own professional development.

“The training provided immediate tools for prioritization, understanding and dealing with different personality types, and creating a respectful work culture,” said Julie Kramer, Director of Marketing at LGC’s newly-acquired Lucigen. “The only question now is, ‘What should I implement first’?”

The workshop was aimed at first-time managers and anyone who felt that they could be a leader, but Rob Brazas, Senior Product Manager at Lucigen, believes that this type of leadership training shouldn’t be limited to just managers.

“It focused on communication skills that are valuable whether you’re in management or not. All employees would benefit from this training,” explained Rob.

Whether you implement apprenticeships, encourage your team to develop their leadership skills, or help employees realize their potential in other ways, the goal should be to create an empowered culture where leaders have tools to communicate and have a sense of ownership in the company’s success.

Analysis for Innovators: How we can solve your measurement problem

LGC, in our role as the UK National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement, partnered with Innovate UK to launch a new funding programme ‘Analysis for Innovators’ (A4I) last year.

The aim of A4I was simple: to solve real problems affecting productivity or performance of UK companies of all sizes using the world-leading measurement facilities available at LGC and other national laboratories (NPL, NEL, STFC).

After the success of the first round, Analysis for Innovators is opening a new round of applications in March to UK companies who wish to take advantage of our expertise, research and development to help solve a measurement problem. And this year’s round has £4 million reserved to fund 12-month projects, with up to £250,000 for each project.

Companies are asked to submit a two-minute video outlining an existing measurement problem, without providing any solutions. This gives us insight in to what the obstacle looks like, the approaches the companies have already tried, and how solving it might change their business going forward.

After watching the videos from last year’s competition, LGC scientists sat down with the competition winners and discussed the problems in more detail. This approach encouraged creative thinking from our scientists and provided companies with access to our experts even if they did not progress to the next competition stage. In fact, feedback from the first round indicated that this stage was itself incredibly useful, and as a result the initial successful outcome of the current A4I programme will be a longer consultancy session with our measurement experts before progressing on to potential projects.

Previous collaborations included developing an assay to continuously monitor cortisol for a wearable device to improve diagnosis and treatment of disease, improving the sensitivity of a novel assay developed to ensure the safety of cell therapy products, and optimising an innovative non-chemical disinfection process to provide a cost-effective system for cleaning water and other fluids.

This programme benefits companies who otherwise would not be able to consult with our scientists, but it also benefits LGC by giving us the opportunity to see the outcomes of the vital measurement work we do every day. Our scientists are at the forefront of measurement technology, so it’s exciting to see how our science can affect and change lives for the better. These applications of our expertise remind us why what we do is important and inspire us to continue.

If you’re planning on applying for the next round of funding, or if you’d just like to learn more about the programme, register to join us at one of the remaining roadshows in February and March. We’ll be there to help share the work of our collaborations and illustrate how our analysis can help solve your problem.