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“It’s easy to think a job in science is white coats and laboratories but there is a whole other side to working in the chemical industry”

Ashley Clinton, Account Manager at BTC UK, has recently been awarded the Young Person Award 2020 provided by the Chemical Business Association (CBA). The award honors young talents in the chemical industry whose careers are already marked by a great diversity of outstanding achievements. In the following interview, Ashley Clinton, who joined BTC in 2016 and is now working as an Account Manager for the Personal Care business, shares interesting insights on her professional career and gives some encouraging words to other young professionals. 

1) What are your responsibilities at BTC Europe? 

As of the 1st June 2020 I will be the Account Manager for the Personal Care business in the UK. This portfolio has always been with an external distributor, but BASF decided to bring this business back in house and thus appointed BTC Europe as its official distribution partner for the entire Personal Care portfolio in the UK & Ireland. This is hugely exciting for us, the customers and the market. It’s a role I’ve been interested in since I started, and a role I have been working towards for some time now. 

2) What brought you to BTC? 

Like many people, I suspect, I fell into what I’m doing now. Having the Chemistry background gave me some direction, but a friend told me about a position at BTC and I applied. It’s only after joining the industry and the company that I realized it was for me! That’s why I’m so passionate about encouraging young people into science because I don’t think they know about the different career options available to them. 

3) What do you like about working at BTC?

Obviously the people! but also the opportunities to work for a large company whilst having the agility and empowerment of a ‘smaller’ company. I really enjoy working with the smaller companies and watching them grow. I think BTC holds a lot of the customers driving innovation in the market. 

4) What has been your biggest personal milestone in your career until now?

I’ve had an interesting few months in which I have completed my diploma in cosmetic science with a distinction and graduated, was promoted to a full time Account Manager position in an industry I’m passionate about, and then won the Young Person of the Year award. I’m not sure anything could beat this in such a short space of time. 

5) You hold a Master’s degree in Chemistry, a Diploma in Cosmetic Science and you have already a significant history in Sales at BTC. What inspires you?

Learning. I’ve always been interested in learning and trying something new, whether it’s in my job or outside of work, I think self-development is really empowering and important. 

6) What were the main reasons to study for the Diploma in Cosmetic Science and how do you benefit from it in your daily work?

I’ve had a passion for this side of science from a young age. When I enquired at universities, I asked whether they offered PhD’s or courses in cosmetic science and actually didn’t end up going down that route. Once I joined BTC, I was interested again in the personal care business and have to give thanks to the management team in the UK who enabled me to pursue it (and put up with me talking about it for two years!). 
The course covered everything in the personal care industry from ingredients and formulations to regulations and production. It will definitely help in my new role as I will greater understand the needs of my customers and the technical aspects of the products we offer. It also allowed me to network within the industry in the UK and build up contacts to help grow the business in the future. 

7) What do you personally like about the Personal Care industry and the field of Cosmetics in comparison to other industries?

Searching Instagram for new brands and trends and calling it work is definitely a bonus for me! But seriously, I really enjoy the industry, it’s fast moving, innovative and fun! I really enjoy seeing the products from my customers on the shelves or in my Instagram feed! 

8) Which challenges/opportunities do you see in this industry? 

One challenge can be classifying the small independent brands that pop up. There are many people that want to formulate their own skincare/haircare and watching them to see who will grow is a challenge but certainly an opportunity. BTC are best placed to help BASF with this challenge as we can share information and really work together to review brands, as we do in the UK. Another challenge is mapping the projects, sometimes as many as 3 or 4 companies will all be involved in one project, but only one will finally buy the product. This is why good communication not just in the UK but also across Europe is key. 

9) BASF recently appointed BTC as distributor for its entire Personal Care portfolio in the UK & Ireland. Which opportunities does this have for BTC? How are you preparing for this step?  

I have been prepping for this opportunity for a couple of years now. Firstly, by taking on the distribution of the BASF active ingredients (a small area of the PC portfolio), this allowed me to engage with the PC customers and the industry. I am a member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists in the UK and attend events, including the annual conference where we have been able to exhibit alongside BASF for the past three years. Finally, I have been studying for my diploma which has all led up to this change. Now BTC UK are in a great position to step into the market fully with support from BTC Europe, BASF UK and the network we have built in the industry.

10) How do you see your role as YPA winner regarding other young people? 

I think my job is to help industry bodies like the CBA, that have been running successfully for years, interact with and appeal to a younger audience. That could be setting up a group for people to come together and speak to schools about STEM or setting up an industry network group aimed at younger members of the chemical industry so that the next generation has the opportunity to collaborate. These are some of my ideas, but I haven’t officially started yet.

11) What would be your message to other young people who would like to join the industry?

Take any opportunities that come your way, it’s easy to think a job in science is white coats and laboratories but there is a whole other side to working in the chemical industry. The industry has huge potential for you to learn and grow both technically and commercially.