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A day in the life

SCIENCE CAREERS

Keith Ruxton, Business Improvement Manager

What is your role and how did you arrive at your current position?
My current role at M Squared is Business Improvement Manager within the commercial team, which I’ve been in for the last couple of years. I initially started at M Squared as an applications engineer. I primarily focused on using M Squared’s mid-infrared Firefly-IR platform and looking at how it could be used in various chemical sensing applications, ranging from security & defence to oil & gas.

Even though I was in a technical position, I had a number of commercial responsibilities, including export compliance. As the company grew I had a chance to decide whether to continue as a technician or fully jump to commercial. I chose the latter.

My responsibilities now include developing cloud-based business systems, developing new business processes and managing M Squared’s vast IP portfolio. That said, I still have a foot on the technical side and provide technical support on several ongoing projects.

What time do you wake up?
I like to get up around 7 am, sometimes my kids have other ideas.

When do you start?
Between 8:30 and 9:30 am, depending if I need to do the school run.

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As the company grew I had a chance to decide whether to continue as a technician or fully jump to commercial

What attracted you to your career?
I’ve always been interested in science and engineering and when I finished my undergraduate degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering I had the opportunity to do a PhD. The topic of the PhD was initially described to me as gas detection using lasers, which I thought was pretty cool! Things fell into place when at the end of my PhD, M Squared was looking for someone with chemical sensing experience.

What have been your biggest challenges in this role?
Time management. At any one time, I have several projects running which could include; developing new reporting tools within our cloud-based customer relationship management platform; liaising with patent attorneys or providing feedback for response to patent examiners; reviewing export compliance legislation and developing procedures and protocols; supporting chemical sensing related projects. I lead the majority of the commercial projects, so when I’m working on one thing other projects can become static – which adds a bit of pressure.

Describe your workspace.
In my commercial role, I’m mainly at my desk in front of a computer. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in my technical role, I can be in the laboratory at M Squared working on an experiment or onsite with a customer/collaborator using M Squared’s products in the field.

What kind of tools do you work with?
The majority of the time I work on the computer, this involves using cloud-based business systems with MS Office. I also use scientific analysis software tools including FreeMat (Matlab equivalent) or Image (image analysis) when carrying out experimental investigations.

Who do you interact most with?
The scope of my projects can be cross-discipline and cross-department; therefore I regularly work with the management, sales, procurement, innovation and manufacturing teams within M Squared.

How often do you get out of the office?
When attending conferences here in the UK and abroad I can be out of the office for a couple of days to a whole week. From a technical point of view, I can be out for a day for a project meeting or away for two weeks on-site, undertaking experimental investigations. My travel tends to bunch together, and I often end up spending a couple of weeks or months outside the office.

What do you most look forward to each day?
Making progress, getting stuff ticked off the list. The list is always growing, but as long as things are getting ticked off, it’s a good day.

What or who inspires you?
Doing a good job and being proud to put your name to something.

What do you do for lunch?
If I’m organised, I’ll bring something in from home, usually leftovers from the night before. If not, I nip out and get the finest ready meal or sandwich Asda can offer. If things are busy, I’ll keep my head down and keep going.

Describe your best day at work to date.
There are a few including winning a major project tender where I was heavily involved in writing the proposal; rugby tackling the sales director in a penguin outfit during M Squared’s tenth birthday celebrations; running successful field trials at collaborator/customer sites.

How does the working day end?
Trying to get stuff to a point where things aren’t left hanging or broken.

What time do you get home?
Anytime after 6 pm, depending if I need to pick up the kids or if I’m working late.

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