5 years on – a catch up with our Lab Chemist Adam Wood

June 24th, 2022

Adam Wood celebrates his 5th year working at Clear Solutions this month! He has been a huge asset to the company from day one, and kept the cogs turning in the lab throughout the entire covid pandemic. We decided to have a chat with him to see what insights he has after working for the company for 5 years – have a look at his answers below!

Q1) What led you to work in this field?

When I graduated from university, I started working for a company who provided small scale geotechnical work (surveying the ground for prospective clients and giving relevant feedback to the geotechnical engineers). This mainly involved checking how deep foundations had to go and assessing whether mining voids were present. They had a small drilling rig attached to the back of a land rover, the drill pipes were only 10 foot long (tiny compared to those used in the Oil & Gas industry!). Although we only ever used water as a drilling fluid, I was able to experience the practical side of drilling and when the opportunity arose to apply for a job at Clear Solutions, I felt that the experience I had gained (along with my Chemistry degree), really made it an easy decision to apply, and here I am, 5 years later!

Q2) What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

There are two quotes which come to mind:

“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” – You should always keep trying new things and not shy away from new experiences for fear of getting things wrong… it’s all part of the learning process. 

I can’t remember where I heard this second quote, but the older I get the more it makes sense: “be careful what you become an expert in” – which is about staying focussed on things that are important, rather than spending large amounts of time on things that are not.

Q3) What did you want to be when you were younger?

Not really sure, a scientist, I think. 

Q4) What skills have you developed most during your time at Clear Solutions?

That’s an easy question to answer: communication skills. [interviewer “really? That sounds far too cliched and generic, can you think a more interesting answer?”] No, I genuinely mean it! I really struggled throughout my time at high school and university with presentation techniques and confidence with public speaking. I would go out of my way to avoid situations where I would be required to speak in any sort of stressful or public setting. The more nervous I got, the worse my presentation would go. It would really knock my confidence. [interviewer “I take it back, this isn’t as cliched as I thought, please continue”] I still remember my interview at Clear Solutions, I had had about nine interviews by this stage, with different companies, and they had all gone wrong. I left them all feeling frustrated that I never seemed to be able to present the best side of myself because I always got so nervous. So, when I came here for my interview I just thought “here we go again” and prepared myself for yet another “unfortunately we’ve decided to go for different candidate”. But when I walked in, James Haughs (Clear Solutions then Lab Manger, now Operations, Research and Development Director) immediately saw how nervous I was, and unlike every other interview I had been to, he went out of his way to help me relax, asking questions about my personal interests, (swimming, cycling etc.) before moving onto the more relevant interview questions. It was exactly what I needed and instead of leaving the interview dejected, I was actually quietly optimistic! 

Throughout my time here, my role has required me to interact more with a range of different people and given me the opportunity to present in a variety of situations, and over the past 5 years I have really grown in confidence and my communication skills have improved exponentially.  

Q5) Are there any misconceptions people outside your field have about your job title?

Hmmm, that’s a tricky one, probably the main misconception people have is that because I have a degree in chemistry, I must have an encyclopaedic knowledge of anything vaguely related to chemistry, whereas the main skill you take away with you is problem solving, wrapped in the context of chemistry.

Q6) What has been the biggest change you have seen since you began working at Clear Solutions 5 years ago?

Definitely the people, the building hasn’t changed all that much [interviewer “not even the fact that the lab has doubled in size?”] Oh yeah! I forgot about that! [interviewer “fair enough”]. But the people have changed over the years and because we are a small company that makes a big impact, I think we currently have a really good team.