ConvaTec’s history is built upon the innovative ideas of our employees; the heart of which lies within our Global Development Centre, and Research functions.
To celebrate International Day of Women & Girls in Science, we invite you to get to know some of our leading female scientists and read their story of their careers in Science. Meet Helen, Bryony, Donna & Kim …
Helen Shaw: Director of Advance WoundCare R&D
I always liked Science because it had rules and logic. There was a right and a wrong.
When choosing to study Chemistry at degree level, I thought my career path was teaching. I hadn’t given any real thought to possibilities outside of teaching. Following graduation, I decided to gain industrial experience before completing a PGCE.
Having around 5 years industrial experience, I applied to ConvaTec for the role of Research Scientist. I was still planning to complete a PGCE, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I loved the job I had at ConvaTec. I remember the moment I changed my mind. We were watching a video for a new product that had just been launched, in the video was a young boy who had burnt nearly the whole of his face. The video contained pictures and interviews with the surgeons and it was heart breaking to watch the case study. At the end of the video the boy (without a single noticeable scar) was filmed with a message for the Scientists at ConvaTec. He wanted to thank us for developing a dressing that helped heal his face – I wasn’t directly a part of the team that developed that product, but I had a feeling of pride, and I knew I wanted to develop products that could help someone else.
I have been with ConvaTec for 17 years; science is no longer about rules and logic, and it’s certainly a lot more grey! Every day comes with a new challenge, opportunity to learn and I still feel that sense of pride every time we get a thank you or hear of a success story.
Kim Peters: Director Clinical Affairs
I am currently the Clinical Affairs Director for ConvaTec and, as such, responsible for the safety and performance of the large portfolio of ConvaTec products on the market. I graduated in 1979 from the University of Manchester with a BSc(Hons) in Geology, Chemistry and IT. My first job was as a clinical researcher at the Accident and Emergency Department at Hope Hospital, Salford funded by a Medical Research Council grant. Research projects included the develop of an integrated database to support epidemiological research and study site co-ordinator for clinical research projects.
In 1985 I joined ConvaTec as part of the first wound care sales team selling Duoderm® dressings. Three years later I joined the clinical affairs team as a Clinical Research Associate running clinical trials on ConvaTec products. In 1993 we worked on the first ever study in humans involving an AQUACEL® dressing – a major milestone for ConvaTec, and over the years have continued to work on generating clinical evidence to support safety and clinical performance of ConvaTec products in three franchises.
These days the Clinical Affairs group has a much broader remit than clinical trials, including New Product Development support, Clinical Evaluation and Anatomy & Physiology review, although generating clinical evidence remains a very important part of our role. The team is comprised of clinical professionals based at the ConvaTec Global Development Centre of whom I am very proud to manage. In the last few years I have been honoured to be a member of the MedTech Europe Clinical Investigation Task Force currently focusing on the clinical aspects of the Medical Device Regulation transition which comes into effect in 2020.
I’m very grateful for my career with ConvaTec . It has provided me with a wealth of experiences and opportunities and although my role now is far removed from my original aspirations as a graduate, it demonstrates how a good science degree can open the door to a host of career options.
Bryony Lee: Associate Director Ostomy Care R&D
Accidentally applying for a Textile Technology course at University instead of a Textile Design course was the start of my career in science! However, having enjoyed studying Textile Technology so much I stayed on after my first degree to complete my PhD. Soon after graduating I started work in the R&D laboratories at ConvaTec. For 10 years I worked in the Wound Therapeutics part of the business developing numerous products within the AQUACEL® range, increasing my level of responsibility with each new project.
Approximately 18 months ago I was asked to manage and develop the UK R&D department for the Ostomy part of the business, which is a challenge I am currently relishing.
During my career at ConvaTec I have presented to and discussed the benefits of our products with health care professionals, patients and suppliers all across the world from Sydney to Los Angeles.
Although my career has not turned out to be one that I imagined while at school it has provided some amazing experiences, offered some fantastic opportunities and I have helped to develop some incredible products that I am immensely proud of. While doing all of this I also manage to squeeze in being a mother to 2 gorgeous children!
Donna Kesteven: Manager R&D
At school, I was always more maths/science focussed, I was never good with words! I obtained my Masters in Chemistry with Analytical Science from Manchester University, graduating in 2010. After a short stint as a forensic scientist analysing drugs (it’s not at all like CSI), I accidentally fell into Medical Devices. It’s not a career I had heard about at that stage. I started at a smaller medical devices company in the North West, then came to ConvaTec 3 and a half years ago. I no longer spend time in the lab, more focussing on how to successfully make innovative changes to existing products, while maintaining or improving their levels of performance, safety and efficacy. However, my science background still is very useful and I need to understand the science behind what I do. I love my job, as it combines the science element with execution and delivery of projects, and most of all we’re helping people with the products we make. It makes it much more rewarding to come to work every day when you’re doing something you love and changing the lives of others.