Hi, I’m Vikki and I am a market development manager at BASF plc, the largest chemical producer in the world.

What is a market development manager?

My role has two parts. The first is an account manager and is customer-facing. My customers range from large supermarkets to council departments! I check in with them all most days. I help them with any challenges they have in order for their businesses to run smoothly. This is a highly communicative task – understanding their needs and priorities, negotiating prices and contracts but also helping them to develop and grow.

The other part of my job is at the opposite end of the supply chain, talking to customers about their packaging needs mostly. We discuss what could be a more sustainable alternative to package their product that will also be safe for the public to use. I help them to make sustainable choices and explain how chemistry can help. For example, if we make plastic out of prawn shells, we have to think about allergens, we have to be careful that the choices we make now don’t make things worse for our world in the future.

How does your work affect the world around us?

Chemistry can help make innovative packaging which is less harmful for the planet. I help packaging designers choose materials which have less carbon dioxide impact and make the most out of the planet’s precious and limited resources. We look at designs that can allow food to last a few days longer which can have a significant impact on reducing food waste.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the variety – every day is different. Working with so many companies, you never know what challenge they will have for you – it’s never boring!

One day, I could be talking to a chocolate company about food safety; the next day, I could be discussing how we can make new products out of old tyres which would otherwise have gone to landfill sites. Another day, I’m doing desk research on a new project and the next day I’m presenting ideas at an innovation conference.

Qualifications required

Minimum qualifications: To be an account manager, you will need a degree in chemistry, chemical engineering or business.

Competitive compensation, attractive benefits as well as excellent career opportunities in an international company. BASF plc celebrates difference by creating an inclusive culture and they are a proud Stonewall partner.

What skills do you need?

Communication skills are really important. Sometimes, ideas are generated with customers that we have no idea how to solve but by talking through the project, bringing together the right team, amazing results can be produced.

Project management skills are also helpful as well as chemistry knowledge. From the first conversation, I have to understand the challenge the customer has and then develop a project plan to connect all the companies together. Sometimes, a new product is needed so research and development work is done, then trials and testing, then if we are successful, we see our products on the supermarket shelves!

What advice would you give someone considering a career in chemistry?

Be open minded – not all chemists wear lab coats! We are everywhere but in disguise! Find a topic you are passionate about and follow the path to see where it leads – you may be a people person, you may prefer research – it could be that you don’t know what you want to do. Chemistry opens a world of possibilities: be part of the reaction!

Want to find out more?

First published September 2021