"I did my first degree in chemistry at the University of Leeds, and I knew of a research group there that I was particularly interested in. My doctorate was in physical chemistry, specifically nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction studies of lyotropic crystals. Practical applications of these lyotropic liquid crystals – concentrated soap solutions – included looking at the way other molecules dissolved in them. They were also used as model systems for biological membranes, having particular implications for biological research.
"Through doing my doctorate I came to the decision that I didn’t see myself staying in academia, for the reason that it felt less secure at the time. I had been using some sophisticated equipment, and an opportunity came up to go and work for the manufacturer in Germany, which was looking for an English speaker to develop some applications. They asked their UK subsidiary to try to find someone, I heard about it, and subsequently I got the job.
"The bigger career switch for me came later on, after living in Germany for three years. My first child was born in Germany, and we decided to move back to the UK because we wanted to be nearer to schools and grandparents. I saw an advertisement for a trainee patent agent, which seemed to match my skill-set, including knowledge of German. I applied for and got the job, moved to the East Midlands, and qualified as a patent attorney while working in-house in the patent department of a pharmaceutical company. I then joined a private firm in Leicester and worked for that firm for the best part of ten years. During that time I set up a Nottingham branch office for the firm, and eventually spent most of my time there. I got a bit fed up, because I felt I had all the disadvantages of being a sole trader but none of the benefits. I did a deal with the firm, taking over the Nottingham practice as the starting point for my own business, Adamson Jones. The business grew steadily, and now it employs 14 people. Adamson Jones is based at Biocity, a science park in Nottingham, which is an inspiring and useful place for us to be.
"There have been many challenges in starting up on my own. I was fortunate enough to acquire plenty of business, and that resulted in greater challenges like employing people – and finding the time to work on the business rather than in the business. As well as managing the business, I still spend much of my time on technical work. There have been many enjoyable aspects though, mainly that you get to do things the way you think they should be done. It can be stressful, but I wouldn’t change anything. My experience of research while doing my doctorate, my spell working as a chemist in industry, and the experience I gained in a corporate patent department have all been useful."