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Staff Profile

Meet Carolyn Grimley - Manager of US Advanced Materials & Processes

Tell me about your career journey at Lucideon - when did you join, and what job were you doing when you started?

I joined Lucideon a little over three years ago now, as a commercial scientist, so I came fresh out of grad school. I had worked with Lucideon as a graduate student and was supposed to be doing in-lab delivery work, but I transitioned into a role in which I was using a PhD. I joined as the first ceramics expert in the US and so there was also a heavy sort of emphasis on building up that body of work in the US, which had been traditionally very metal focused. The ‘commercial’ elements of that title meant that I was spending a lot of time interacting with clients, trying to build up interest and an understanding of where we could be working in the ceramics field in the US.

 

I did that role up until this Spring, when I transitioned into managing our US advanced materials and processing team. During my first few years, we started a series of projects that were more development focused, leaning very heavily into ceramics because that’s my background; now I’m managing a couple of folks who are delivering on some of those bigger projects because we’re trying to grow that side of the business.

What's your favourite thing about working here?

One of the big things that attracted me to Lucideon is that there’s such a variety of things to do, and that’s both because it’s a smaller organisation, meaning there’s the opportunity to be involved in different aspects of the business, but also because the nature of our work means that we’re spread across multiple sectors. Even from a technical perspective, you’re always learning something new, always getting to pick up a new topic, so from both professional and technical perspectives there’s always the opportunity to have a hand in so many different things.

I’d like to pick two, actually – I also really love the people that I work with. I’ve found that the people here are just an interesting and kind bunch, who are approachable for their technical knowledge and expertise. I think that’s fundamental to how our business works, right? It wouldn’t really function if we weren’t able to pull on all of our different experts. In the US we don’t have any other ceramic experts on site, but if I need to, I can ping across to folks in the UK, or to other folks in the US for characterisation techniques.

How do you find working across the Atlantic?

It’s just its own challenge – it’s enjoyable to see different perspectives. We don’t really think of the UK as being a dramatically different culture, but it is a little bit, and that comes out sometimes. There are logistical challenges due to time zones that you need to be aware of when expecting email responses, sometimes you can’t get them during the same day, things like that. But it’s all about broadening horizons, and it’s a good opportunity to work with folks from other countries.

 

What's been your biggest achievement here?

I think it’s the career path that I had to build, going back to what we talked about earlier. When I arrived, there wasn’t a clear structure in place already, so I had to work to develop one and establish what exactly I was meant to be doing. I’m really proud of what we’ve built, as what is now US Advanced Materials and Processing. We’re a small team, but we have a few hefty projects and there’s more coming down the pipeline. I’m proud that we put that team together based on what we see the market as needing.

There have been technical moments where it’s like something clicks – every scientist understands this, that there’s a moment where you can think ‘aha! I’ve solved the problem!’ and this is definitely a job that affords some of those. It was also very exciting to get our first big publicly funded grant over here. That was a really satisfying moment, because that was a culmination of a lot of work, and a lot of effort.

Are there any memorable challenges that stick out to you? How did you overcome them?

In terms of technical challenges there have definitely been problems. Specifically, when we were recently reinstalling equipment here at the new Raleigh facility. I work a lot with the Flash Sintering system, but my understanding of electrical engineering extends up to a point, and nothing past that. When we were reinstalling the system, I worked really closely with an electrical engineering colleague in the UK, and that was a challenging process to troubleshoot through that, when the expert is five hours ahead and across the ocean!

We got there in the end, and I came out of that process understanding the system so much better. You have to learn all of the little things that are nuances that maybe you didn’t understand before that were causing problems.

What advice would you give to anyone who's thinking of joining Lucideon? Either in a role similar to yours or just generally across the company.

I would encourage them to think about what they want to get out of work. What kind of culture and environment that they enjoy, and if being able to do a wide variety of things and stretch themselves is appealing then this is a really great place to work. And there really are a lot of opportunities for stretching, both professionally and technically as I’ve already mentioned. I’d advise thinking about what they want to get out of a work experience and seeing if that matches.