Thursday, April 3, 2014
My Formula for Success
Last week, I had a chance to chat( via FB) with a former student who was a Pre-Med at UP Diliman, Q.C in 1957. He is now retired and had been a successful surgeon in the US for many years. For those of you who have not read my autobiography, I did taught Chemistry courses to Pre-Med, Nursing and Engineering students as Instructor in Chemistry, UP Diliman from 1956-1959.
During our chat about retirement and our professional careers, he asked me If I had a formula for success. I thought for a moment and replied: Patience, Common Sense, Hard Work and Luck. The above four words did indeed apply to my success in my professional career. The first three words I used to obtain my Master and Doctorate degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois. Luck when I become the Chemistry Team Leader ( first line Supervisor) for the Division of Ant-Infective Products, FDA when my supervisor was transferred to another division.
I am re posting today, excerpts from my article "The highlights of my Professional Career in Chemistry" just in case you have not read it in my blogs.
My picture used by Stauffer Chemicals in their Advertisement Brochures, 1981
"The type of work we choose defines who we are. The more we love what we do, the better we become productive and develop our skills on our chosen field. I have loved science and Math since I was young. I decided to major in Chemistry in college, and with persistence and hard work; I also completed my Masters and Doctorate in the same field.
It was not a surprise that I spent the next four decades working in the field of Chemistry. They were mostly exciting career moves, except for the three layoff experiences. A huge part of my work involved working with various types of people. The success of my former employers was due to the diligence and cooperation among its employees to improve workplace harmony and productivity.
In my more than 40 years of professional career, I have experienced both working rank and file, as well as supervising the work of subordinates. I have worked in four private firms and the Federal Government, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where I retired. I enjoyed the challenges and difficulties of both types of job situations. This is the highlights of my work experience story.
My first job after completing my doctorate degree was a Chemist for Chemagro Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation, a German conglomerate. I worked for the analytical chemistry department comprised of about fifty people; half that number was either chemists or biologists. My specific task was to develop analytical methods for the detection of pesticide residues in plant and animal tissues. I worked on my own, similar to six other bench chemists, and we all reported to the same supervisor.
The firm sponsored my visa conversion from a student to a permanent resident, and I was able to legally work and reside in the United States with my family. The company generously took care of its employees. At the end of each successful year, everyone received a 13th month salary bonus. The employees and their families celebrated wonderful annual Christmas parties in a downtown Kansas City hotel, with dancing and free drinks for the whole night.
As much as I enjoyed and loved working for Chemagro for five years, I found a new job which offered a substantially higher pay. Due to my exemplary work performance, my supervisor lobbied for me to stay with the company. I had to turn him down because they could not match the package presented by my new employer. It was also a chance for me and my family to move and live in the US west coast, where the mild winter climate is bearable compared to the Midwest.
My next job was at the agricultural research division of Shell Development Company in Modesto, California. I was a Research Chemist, and again I worked individually, same as five other chemists who all reported to a supervisor. My specific duty was similar to my previous job. I worked for them for five years, until the company decided to get out of the pesticide business. They closed their research facility affecting the jobs of more than 200 employees.
My third industrial job was with the agricultural research division of Stauffer Chemical Company, located in Richmond, California. I was a Senior Research Chemist doing the same project as my two previous jobs. I worked for twelve continuous years for the company, with outstanding annual job performance. I became a Principal Research Chemist, the highest attainable non-supervisory position.
One day in 1986, my supervisor informed me that my job had been eliminated, and I had one day to vacate the facility. It was the most dreadful lay off experience in my life. I felt anger, sadness and humiliation to be dismissed from work with one day notice, after all the years of hard work invested for the company. This was an unforgettable incident and was the gloomiest point in my professional career.
One of the chemists was distressed and expressed his outrageous anger by threatening the company and its workers. He told his supervisor of his intention to bomb and burn down the laboratory. He was immediately escorted by the security staff out of the building and into his car. He was informed to leave behind his personal belongings; they will be mailed to his residence. He was warned never to show up again near the company premises or risk getting arrested.
My supervisor was kind and allowed me to take my time to pack up my belongings. It took me two days to clear up my workplace. I was provided clerical help and office space, in preparation to look for another job, such as updating resumes, and using the computer and copy machine. I did received six weeks of separation pay plus benefits.
Fortunately, with the help of a friend who is a Church parishioner, I found another job thirty days after leaving Stauffer Chemical Company. He hired me as a senior research chemist and as a group leader with two technicians to supervise. It was in the same field as my expertise in my previous three jobs spanning the last twenty one years. My new employer was Chevron Chemical Company, and which was located in the same city as my former employer.
This job gave me the introduction and basic knowledge of managing the work of subordinates. I worked for Chevron Company for four and a half years. The company decided to consolidate their research facilities in Texas, and lay off all its research employees. This time I had enough distress and agony from working, and eventually getting laid off from several private companies. To avoid going through any more miserable layoffs, I made a vow that I would never again work for a private company.
In the three private companies I worked for, I was able to publish scientific journals for some of the research studies and analytical methods which I developed for the respective companies of Chemagro, Shell Development and Stauffer.
After deciding and making a vow to avoid working in the private sector, I made my new goal which was either to work for the state of California, or the Federal government in Washington, D.C. Four months after I lost my job in Chevron, I was lucky and joyful to be hired by the Food and Drug Administration as a review chemist in the fall of 1990.
In 1994 I was promoted as an Expert Research Chemist with a GS-14 rating. My expertise was on Anti-malarial and Anti-parasitic drug products. In 1997, I was again promoted to Chemistry team leader, supervising the work of six Chemistry reviewers including five with doctorate degrees.
As team leader, I was responsible for prioritizing, assigning, and assuring the technical accuracy of all chemistry, manufacturing and control issues for all new drug applications submitted to the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products, Center of New Drugs.
In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award. The citation reads, “For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the EEO Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership.” I have received numerous certificates of appreciation, awards in leadership and communications, commendation for teamwork and excellence in the accomplishment of the FDA mission. I have also received several letters of appreciation from private industry for my review work.
Managing the work of others has its challenges. Moreover, it develops one’s skill in handling and developing people, and the compensation rewards and benefits are better. Due to additional duties, responsibilities and leadership, supervisory work can be more stressful than working as a subordinate. However, supervisory jobs give one more personal growth and satisfaction, based on my personal experience. My work in FDA as a team leader managing the work of six scientists had been the happiest and rewarding work experience in my career in Chemistry.