Tuesday, June 11, 2013

That's not who I would have picked

Are you a chemist over 50 attending ACS Indianapolis this fall? Well, there's no one that you'd rather hear from, I'm sure, than this fellow (via the National Meeting e-newsletter*):

Perhaps someone in the audience could ask about Lilly's outsourcing pushes or perhaps how Dr. Lechleiter thinks older chemists should handle issues of age discrimination.

[In all fairness to the organizers, you get the biggest name you can get -- I understand that. The CEO of the largest local employer of chemists would be a good get.]

*Something tells me attendance at ACS Indy will not be high. Why the once-a-week spam newsletter?


  1. Is it better or worse when it's someone who "rose through the ranks... from a synthetic organic chemist position..." that's screwing us? (italics mine)

  2. Who would you have picked?

    1. Probably someone who is between 55-65 years old that is a working chemist (i.e. not more-or-less a businessperson), but someone who does or directly interacts with chemists. Someone who has a sense of the challenges that senior chemists face.

    2. The Aqueous LayerJune 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Blah, blah, networking, blah, blah, entrepreneurial spirit, blah, blah, re-invent yourself...

      Add a bunch more buzzwords and that's what his talk will be. He may even throw in "I know it's tough out there..." before it's all said and done, which, given his compensation level, is laughable.

      He's so far removed from the labs that he has no idea what things are really like for working scientists trying to find work or hold onto their jobs.

    3. CJ, Anon@2:13 back again: how many 55-65 year old chemists work at a bench/reactor at your company? I'm curious to know the answer, and I'd love to hear from others in industry about the likelihood of encountering a person in this age category working 'in the trenches.' Is it a high probability event?

    4. Uh, I can't really answer that question too directly, but suffice it to say the number is not a significant percentage. Elsewhere where I have worked, it's a small number.

      But as I said "someone who works directly with chemists" would be someone I'm comfortable with hearing from. Or, someone whose direct report is a chemist, or only 2 or 3 levels removed, etc.

  3. Hey John! What do you feel when I say "Covance?" Oh how cute, you're smiling like a little girl!

  4. Someone whose CEO career hadn't been spent shipping jobs away (either to outsourcing companies and still here but at lower pay or to elsewhere) and then complaining about chemist shortages would probably be preferred. That might be a short (nonexistent?) list, but.... Andrew Liveris would probably be an alternative, but I'm not sure that he'd be better.

    Trying to explain how to deal with unemployment to those you helped make unemployed (or unemployable) seems to me to be hard to swallow. "To get a job, you should keep up with current industrial techniques that you can't get access to, and literature you probably can't afford. Oh, and you should make half as much, and speak and read Mandarin or Hindi."

    I'm sure he was correct about being employable with a Ph.D. in chemistry - the problem is, working at Wal-Mart or Speedway won't pay the bills, much less the opportunity cost spent to get the degree. Learning is fun, but if you're not going to pay people for it, well, there are lots of other useful things to do that someone will pay for, and you ought not be surprised when it isn't valued anymore.

  5. This would be my example as to why Dr. Lechleiter might not have been the best choice, despite his credentials and his position in a large local chemical business:


    There was some debate as to whether his speech was as bad as it sounded, or whether the federal government's tax policies were deformed enough to reward outsourcing too much for companies not to outsource and thus he and Lilly were not so much to blame. Not sure if that would help much.