Sam helps develop battery applications across the UK from car batteries to consumer devices to ensure that they are safe, efficient and reliable

Hi, I’m Sam and I work as a scientific consultant for Exponent International Ltd.

What does a scientific consultant do?

Source: @ Sam Lawton

I help solve customers’ engineering, scientific, regulatory and business issues specialising in the field of battery technologies at an engineering and scientific consulting firm called Exponent. 

I work alongside experts in other fields. For example, I work on projects affecting the wider green industry such as wind power generation. 

Working towards a greener economy requires the development of new technologies which may encounter technical issues. I design, test and analyse the faults of lithium-ion batteries including readily available lithium-ion batteries and prototype batteries.

How does your work affect the world around us?

Battery technologies are essential for developing a greener economy because renewable energy needs to be stored for later use. My work helps assess and troubleshoot battery applications across the country, ranging from car batteries to consumer devices. I help ensure that batteries are safe, efficient and reliable.

Overall, it’s a great opportunity to grow and have an impact on the world around us.

Salary range and qualifications required

Salary range: Competitive, with incentives from good performance. The salary does depend on the market in which you are operating, as this determines the hourly rate that can be commanded.

Minimum qualifications: A Ph.D, is desirable, and an MSc, MSci or equivalent may be acceptable, depending on the candidate’s experience, seniority and area of expertise.

What is your typical day like?

My days are highly varied – the work is interesting and keeps me stimulated. One day I’ll be in the lab performing analytical techniques, the next day I could be at an on-site inspection. Some of the work is also international. I might start my day calling a client in Shanghai and finish my day emailing another client in California.

There is a certain amount of report writing and administrative duties that comes with my technical role as well, which gives me the opportunity to interact with clients and create high-quality products.

What inspired you to work in chemical science?

Chemistry wasn’t going to be my first choice of degree, but thanks to my incredible tutor, I enjoyed my A-level so much it made me change my plans and university applications. I haven’t looked back since.

What do you like most about your job?

I love that I get to apply myself to a variety of problems, that I meet numerous people with such varied knowledge, and that I’m always learning something new. I am continuously presented with new problems to solve, which has given me a real sense of achievement and professional development.

What skills do you need for your job?

Having a broad range of skills and knowledge is very useful in a technical consulting job.  Good communication skills are also especially important for consulting. For example, you may need to explain the value of your work to an engineer with 30 years in the field as well as a lawyer with limited scientific background.

How did you find your job? How did your qualification help you to get there?

I found my job while researching technical consulting roles online. Exponent is in the midst of expanding their European operations and I thought it would be a great chance to be part of that growth.

I completed a Ph.D. and it taught me not only soft skills such as project management, but also a vast array of technical procedures, how to analyse data properly and how to be a better scientist. Exponent attracts some of the most talented scientists across the globe, so having a Ph.D. goes a long way toward submitting a successful application at our company.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a consultancy career?

In consultancy, it’s important to demonstrate how you can apply your skills and knowledge to different problems, especially ones you haven’t encountered before. If there’s a chance to attend a seminar, get trained on some equipment or do something new, then definitely sign up for it.

It’s an appealing career choice to anyone who is looking to broaden their knowledge as consulting is designed around solving real-world problems, which reinforces your learning. 

What are your plans for the future?

My career at Exponent is still young and I have much more to learn from and give to the company. I will almost certainly spend the rest of my career solving technical and scientific problems.

Want to know more?

First published in December 2021