Interview With Bradford Peterson, Interview Example
Bradford Peterson is a chemical central engineer that specializes using engineering polices and procedure in the Clorox manufacturing processing. The chemical process involves the blending, converting, and the chemical interaction with raw ingredients utilizing operational procedures to complete the finished product. He works for the Clorox R&D process and development. Bradford is responsible for new inventions and formulary cleaning products. His experience spans 15 years and Bradford previously worked in the Personal Products Division within Clorox. Bradford attended University of California, Berkeley graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemical Engineering. Bradford’s years of experience are extensive within the Clorox organization and his knowledge level is respect by his peers.
My goal is to learn about chemical engineering position and to get insight on the chemical engineer career path. The person to be interview is Bradford Peterson. The reason why Bradford was chosen to interview because of his 15 years of business and engineering experience. Bradford Peterson has worked with Clorox since 2005 in the Personal Products Division after completing a chemical engineer intern in his senior year of college. I interviewed Mr. Peterson in person on February 6, 2015 in San Francisco about 45 minutes from the Clorox Pleasanton, California office. The interview was set-up by phone a few weeks ago based on Bradford’s available time on his busy schedule. The easiest place to meet was in San Francisco because we both had appointments in the San Francisco area. The interview was recorded using a tape recorder and the questions were based on the career of a chemical engineer and technical writing. The method for transcribing the interview will be written notes along with the recordings.
Questions and Answers
Student: How long have you worked at Clorox?
Peterson: I have been with Clorox for 15 years with 10 years in Research & Development a
and five years in Personal Product Development.
Student: Did you have any previous experience?
Peterson: Yes. I spent the first 5 years with Clorox in the Personal Product Division. A few
years prior to Clorox worked 4 years with Bayer as Chemical Quality Engineer
Student: What is your position title?
Peterson: Senior Chemical Engineer. The is the highest level with a career path next position is Director Research and Development
Student: How long have you had this position?
Peterson: The current position in the Research and Development department for 10 years. However, I held a position for 5 years in the Personal Product Department as Quality Control Engineer
Student: What type of technical skills do you possess?
Peterson: I have over 10 years of technical writing skills that has contributed to the success working as a chemical engineer. The many requirements of projects is to present technical plans to other department and the use of technical writing is always present. The mastering of the technology and technical writing skill sets makes the engineer invaluable because every projects needs some with technical writing and quality experience.
Student: Do you need management skills for the current Senior Chemical Engineering position.
Peterson: Yes, the position requires completing employee performance reviews which requires some type of management experience. The collaborative management style has become the new tool used by many companies. The leadership needs in the chemical engineer is mandatory because they interact act with internal and external customers. The chemical engineer is expect to lead by example thus management skills must be mastered. The chemical engineer is considered the role model for other engineers and co-workers. One the skills that Clorox respects are any management has earned CEU training outside the company in areas of Total Quality Management (TQM).
Student: Can you describe your job positions and duties?
Peterson: A senior chemical engineer is responsible for organizing and overseeing employees in the chemical plants and directing other engineers to develop and finish products. In addition to managing engineering employees and approving technical reports, product design changes, and other technical specifications. The position requires completing performance reviews and administrative functions related to daily such technical reports, weekly training and budgeting. In addition, senior chemical engineers implements and manages new and existing projects designs within the Research and Development established goals.
Student: What kind of skills set and degree required to become hired for this positions?
Peterson: To be considered as a senior chemical engineer. The prospective applicant must have experience or they must have completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering and some master’s level work. The employee wants the degree work to be in the field of chemical engineering or science and chemistry. The potential applicant must at least ten years of supervisory experience in the chemical engineering field.
Student: What is your typical day like?
Peterson: The chemical engineering job consists of several hours of making sure instruments are working properly because the key to success in Research & Development is quality. The instruments have specific calibrations required in order to finish products based on product requirements. Once again, the majority of the day is spent doing quality checks and make sure the proper operations of the chemical plants stations, checking production levels, analyzing efficiency, and decreasing waste time with inefficient processes. The chemical engineer is usually responsible for holding meetings to make sure every organizational department is communicating with the Research & Development department. Each day critical decision is made and signatures are requirement at every phase. It is required to hold meetings to plan what changes you want to make and get everyone’s approval. Another duty is writing and updating proposals and budgets including leading meetings to revise and revise them until everyone agrees. The end of day is accounting for the completion of finished products ready for delivery. The position is like a music conductor ensuring that every piece is in place and working.
Student: What types of communication in used in your environment?
Peterson: The organization is about time management therefore, we use email communication as primary communication and meetings are secondary way we communicate. The Clorox environment uses Outlook, which can schedule, track, make meeting request therefore, with busy schedules the email has become the primary preference of communication internally and externally.
Student: What is the impact of technical writing in your professional career?
Peterson: The technology has advanced each year; therefore, it is important to have a solid writing background along with the ability to write technical requirements.
Student: What are some the ethical issues in the field of engineering?
Peterson: The chemical engineer will always be faced with ethical decisions because as the product is ready to be sold to the consumer, there is pressure to approve the chemical as safe before release. The company has spent millions on the advertising and deliver of the new product before all competitors. The ingredients for the bleach have been proven to make people sick however, the levels of acid need to be lower. The company decides to dilute the compound to make is less volatile to consumers. However, the engineer must sign off that the compound is safe. The right thing to do is take the issue to upper management that more time is needed to perfect the formula. That is the ethical thing to do in this situation.
Student: How would you describe your career path?
Peterson: The career path is straightforward. The chemical engineer needs to learn quality, products, chemical formulas, management, and quality. The career path is rich because you can accomplish this career taking different positions because many of the chemical engineering positions have similar learning task that are required. In the healthcare field, the employee has some many different positions that all bring experience to the healthcare work. However, in the chemical engineering career path the unique skills sets allow the engineer to work in any industry. Chemical engineers can work in healthcare, pharmacy, environmental, and science to name a few industries. The chemical engineering field applies principles of chemistry to solve problems, which is always in demand.
Student: Where else have you been employed?
Peterson: Clorox has been my only job with my first five years in the Personal Product Development. This position taught the importance of technical writing and learning everything about quality management. The chemical formulas were second nature but for an engineer management is critical to moving up the management ladder. The chemical engineering positions have jobs that require very little contact with co-workers and the consumer, however, many of the positions requirement team work, project management and people management skills.
Student: How well do you feel your education has prepared you for this position?
Peterson: My education in chemical engineering was critical to my success. Many of the task required in the chemical industry requires in depth background and training. The degree helps me prepare for the many professional and ethical issues because many products are being pushed to market. An employee that does not have a good balance of work and educational background may struggle in the forever-changing market of chemical engineering.
Student: Any advice for my degree program?
Peterson: Yes, your degree is critical to your success do not stop at your bachelors because as your career progresses, you will need your masters and even your PHD to move further in the management career path. Many of the engineers do not realized this until we have already been in the industry for 25 years with all the experience so they are never encourage to go back to school. Do not make that mistake continue your education studies.
Student: What kinds of communication skills are required in your position?
Peterson: The communication is the primary email however, the environment has a lot of decision making that requires face to face. While the email may dominate the communication process but the face-to-face is a close second. The decisions that are made are so detailed that not all can be discussed in an email.
Student: What personal characteristics do you feel are necessary to be successful in your position?
Peterson: The chemical engineering needs to be diverse and ready for change because the industry changes so quickly form day-to-day to minute-to-minute to month-to-month.
Student: What single technical skill or ability is your best asset?
Peterson: The single technical skill that should be the goal of every engineer is mastering technical writing and business writing. The entire field of chemical engineering needs a sold technical writing, which is invaluable the longer you are employed.
Student: How often is teamwork practiced with your fellow employees?
Peterson: The Clorox organization practice Total Quality Management (TQM) as a management tool. They do team building lesson and training every quarter allowing the engineers to give feedback on what they learned or did not learn. The management learning and excellent is expected for bottom up. The performance reviews are heavy weight for team participation and ability to work with others across the diverse departments.
Student: How often do you write intragroup / interoffice memos / email?
Peterson: There are a massive number of emails and memos and intragroup mail because we have some many projects that are overlapping and deadline driven. The utilization of the Microsoft Outlook has all these tools which are utilized by the company because it a time management saver.
Student: How often do you hold office meetings?
Peterson: The meetings are critical because at Clorox the collaborative decisions making allows all the different departments to give feedback. The meetings are constant because the Clorox culture is get as many eyes and input before making a decision because they believe in collaborate decision-making.
Student: What are the professional organizations related to your job?
Peterson: The Professional Engineering Association of California is a necessary networking tool because they allow you to network with your peers and competitors. In addition the PMI Project Management Association. These two organizations have meetings, discussions, benefits, and global contacts, which is important as your career progresses.
Student: Do you read any technical journals for your job?
Peterson: Yes, it’s important to keep current on market changes and to make sure your learning never stops.
Student: Do you read any other industry journals to help your career?
Peterson: No most of the journals are usually in house, so no need to pursue other Publications.
Student: Any thoughts on the five-year future of your industry?
Peterson: The goal was to eventually move into upper management in the Research and Development while seeking a Director of Research and Development. The positon requires years of management, technical writing and solid chemical background which I have a solid background in each area.
Student: What are some of the education degrees would you suggest for the chemical field?
Peterson: Your bachelor of course, but get your masters as soon as possible.
Student: What are the best things you like about chemical engineering career?
Peterson: The constantly changing of learning required for the engineers.
Student: What are some the pitfalls of the chemical engineer?
Peterson: The goal was to eventually move into upper management in the Research and Development while seeking a Director of Research and Development. The position requires years of management, technical writing and solid chemical background which I have a solid background in each area. Nevertheless, the primary pitfall is not getting enough education to move in management.
Student: What is the typical experience level of chemical engineers?
Peterson: Most of the engineers have years of experience but they do hire many new engineers to keep a balance of experience and learning engineers.
Student: Are there advancement opportunities in the chemical engineering industry?
Peterson: Yes, the field is so wide open for opportunists because engineers can work in any industry
Student: What qualities or characteristics describe a good engineer?
Peterson: Technical writing and management skills are necessary
Student: Any advice on internships?
Peterson: Yes, internships are good especially while in college. You will like work for one the companies that you do internships during college.
Student: What positions did you considered as a career path in chemical engineering industry?
Peterson: The chemical engineering position was not my first choice in my career. I was excellent at reviewing proposals and contracts therefore; I was pursing the Chemical Engineering Proposal Writer. The early part of my career I learned how to write technical chemical projects. However, once the opportunity to work in Research and Development help me find my niche in engineering.
Student: Any thoughts on for your career in five to eight years in your industry?
Peterson: The goal is to be promoted into upper management in the Research and Development while seeking a Director of Research and Development. The positon requires years of management, technical writing and solid chemical background which I have a solid background in each area.
Student: What additional skills sets would you suggest for the chemical engineering?position?
Peterson: The goal was to eventually to be promoted into upper management in the Research and Development while seeking a Director of Research and Development. The positon requires years of management, technical writing and solid chemical background which I have a solid background in each area.
Student: What advice would you give for additional training for chemical engineering? position?
Peterson: This is one the most important areas that a chemical engineer needs in order to be successful in the chemical engineering field. The technology, techniques, formulas and standard policies and procedures are changing. The technical writing requirements for different projects always change from state to state and region to region. The chemical engineer needs to take additional classes to stay educated about technical and business writing. The different projects have different demands that require different skills sets such as learning chemical compound calculations and definitions. The teamwork aspect is truly important because at Clorox, the engineer is required to work with diverse groups across the organization, therefore, they must have leadership and collaborative skills to be able to relate to each group. The organizations may offer additional training but the engineer should always be enrolled in some type of additional training because certifications have start to dominate the market. The primary point is the learning never stops and the training never stops. It is very easy to become stagnant because the engineer has not added any new skill sets.
Student: What career paths should I expect in the United States and/or globally?
Peterson: The chemical engineers are in such hugh demand that they get offers all the time from recruiters to work internationally as well in the United States. The market needs engineer in every field however; a proven background in engineering can draw big salary offers from International companies that can use your years of experience. The larger companies have the dollars to draw experience away from a company that has already trained the veteran. Its smart business because you get a perceptive engineer that help the company be involved with larger engineering contracts globally. In addition, the experience can be learned from the remaining members of their teams globally. It was Lee Iacocca that proven bring in the right person with experience can positively affect the entire organization.
Student: What are the environmental concerns with Clorox?
Peterson: Clorox has been a leader in saving the world with Green Works products and eco-friendly product lines. The commitment to the community is very clear when Clorox started developing the eco-friendly lines. Clorox is the maker of Brita Water Filters, which is against the negative effects of bottled water. The Brita Water solution promotes using the reusable bottle with tap water. This saves millions of waste disposal of the plastic containers, which educates the customer on tap water. Clorox took another big step in the environmental arena by creating their own brand Burt’s Bees, which are natural, and earth products. There are many organizations that put a good for the environmental speech but Clorox has a reputation as being eco-green. The eco-green campaign has given Clorox creditability for years to come because they stand behind saving the environment with words, dollars, and eco-green participation.
Student: What are some things I need to know about my Chemical Engineering major in relations to the chemical career?
Peterson: The chemical engineering major is important because the demand for the top students have become more competitive each years. The student that is diligent with good grades and excellent recommendations from the academic arena will go far in their careers. The chemical engineering field is looking for those that specialize in knowledge skills set of chemistry, physics, complex problem solving, design processes and the use of chemicals is drugs and food.
Student: What are some the major barriers that can be avoided based what you have learned over the last 15 years?
Peterson: The barriers are actually good barriers. The market is often pulling the best candidates away from companies after they have received the training that some companies are quick to make a change to a more experience veteran. As a result, some of your best candidates may move around because the companies are competing for their services. The bottom line is make sure you do your research before make a move to another company. Always give the current company an opportunity to make an offer to keep you. You will find out that they will step up to keep you with the company because of the investment in your skills.
Student: What are some ethical issues that you feel is important to learn about while in college?
Peterson: The primary ethical issue is products deadlines. The college student that had just graduated must not give in to the new employee on the block syndrome. They are anxious to please their employers and may be willing to make a decision that is unethical. Do not be intimidated by the amount of money the company has invested in the product because if you feel its unethical go to your companies hot line that addresses unethically issues.
Student: What are some the most important career goals that is critical after graduation?
Peterson: The major career goal is to advance by taking on extra projects, volunteers and be involved in different company activities. The more they understand your commitment to the environment, the company and to yourself; they will advance your career. One the major things to do when you start with a company are join all the company-sponsored programs like shelter volunteers. In many of these events, you will normally be working the top management leaders. This gives them a chance to know you personally which could lead to promotions.
Student: Can you share what you have learned during your career that would be valuable for a newcomer to the engineering industry?
Peterson: The first order of business is to join engineering professional organizations to build your own personal network. The best thing for your career is friends and connections with others that you can gain industry knowledge. In the chemical engineering arena, knowledge is power and the more knowledge the more you become marketable within your own company.
Student: I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. My last question is what would you do different while in college that would improve your career today.
Peterson: I would have taken more technical writing classes and business writing classes. The technical writing will always be a primary tool in this industry and many engineers can write but they have the technical writing but no business writing background or they have the business writing and struggle with the technical writing. I was the one that struggle with the technical writing. There are free technical writing classes on the Internet. The community colleges have inexpensive and sometimes free technical writing classes. In addition, any technical writing classes that your companies offers make sure you sign up for them. The number thing that can take your career to the next level is your commitment to technical writing. In every position in the chemical engineering industry, it is required to do some type of technical writing. If I had to do it again, technical and business writing would have been may my minor degree.
The experience of interviewing was eye opening because the amount of information provide by Bradford was great. The students many time changes career because they do not understand what the job entails. However, in this case Bradford was very detailed with his answers, which gave me a real feel for what it takes to be an engineer. What was learned is how to continue with my education because the later part of my career, my education will pay dividends. The interview gave me new insight on how to apply for jobs, what skills that are seeking and what skill set I need to develop during my careers. My career will benefit because I have a new look at the position and which ethical issues, career direction, and technical writing skills need to be successful. The management training needed to lead teams, I learned is important because the chemical engineer will be expected to train and develop team members. I learned that chemical engineering is not just all formulas but requires a well-rounded individual to succeed.
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