Mark's story

I’m still being challenged, learning and making a difference.

Mark, Microscopy

When I took the role of research principal at RSSL, I knew I was joining something special. The sheer depth and breadth of scientific knowledge within the team is quite exceptional. We have metallurgists, forensic scientists, chemists, spectroscopists and many others, all working together to tackle some of the most complex technical challenges facing food and pharmaceutical companies.


As you would expect, this makes for a busy lab but it’s also a friendly one. Coming from academia into a fast-moving business environment was a big change for me, but the team has been extremely supportive and helpful.

This spirit of collaboration has also helped me to drive forward and expand our technical capabilities. With the team’s support I’ve been able to better articulate the benefits of existing and new pieces of kit to senior stakeholders, opening up a raft of new business opportunities for us. I would not have got anywhere without bringing colleagues with me, so it’s great to be surrounded by like-minded people.


Collaboration is also key for leading wider business developments, not least the digital transformation of the company. We all know that everything is going digital, so making sure we have the skills, resources and knowledge to be comfortable in this space is a big part of my job.


The scale of the project is challenging - particularly for someone who is not a digital native - but I’m enjoying seeing things starting to take shape. I’m particularly proud of the fact that although I help lead it, this is very much a company-wide initiative. I’ve found people who have a natural aptitude to take the coding forward and asked others to showcase how they are using the new digital tools so that others can follow suit.


This interaction with younger scientists and the mentoring aspect of my role is definitely something I enjoy. Although I don’t get much chance to play at the lab bench due to other demands on my time but I do make sure to schedule regular training sessions to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last 35 years with younger colleagues. After all, these are the scientist of the future and we should do all we can to encourage them.


At this point in my career, all these new experiences keep me motivated and challenged. Plus it gives me a wonderful perspective. I’ve been telling students for years that food science is not rocket science - it’s more complicated and involves all the sciences; the fact that I’m still learning, adopting new digital tools, using new analytical technologies proves my point. Long may it continue