Paula TinklerPaula Tinkler is Commercial Director at bespoke chemical manufacturers, Chemoxy International.

Based in the North East of England, Chemoxy is looking to create more jobs, has plans for further expansion and is seeking acquisition opportunities to add value to its core services. Paula is working hard to help Chemoxy achieve these goals, and was appointed Commercial Director in 2015.

Before joining Chemoxy, Paula was an Electrical Engineer and expert in Process Control. She held key positions in a number of other leading companies such as Lucite and Mitsubishi.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Paula gained an MEgn in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am currently Commercial Director at Chemoxy International in Teesside. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, I moved to the North East of England after graduating from Queens University where I studied Electrical Engineering. I have one daughter and together we share a passion for horse riding.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never – I took every opportunity I was offered and never worried about what would come next. The role I am in now is the first one I have ever sought and this time I asked the CEO directly for a job because I found the company so inspiring.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?

There have been some tough challenges along the way but I have always had a strong network of colleagues who can offer advice and listen as I think my way through the obstacles.

How have you thrived in a male-dominated industry?

The small percentage of women operating in the European Chemical Industry stand out, particularly at conferences and sales exhibitions so that can be an advantage. In reality if you grew up liking maths and physics in the 1980’s you were always in a male dominated environment so my generation in STEM careers know no difference. In ICI, where I started, female engineers were strongly supported and encouraged so I feel I have been very lucky.

Do you have a typical workday? How does you start your day and how does it end?

I start at 0830 and work until probably 6pm. The day starts with a chat with the CEO about what is exciting and what our next big challenge is. The day finishes when I have wrapped something up – I can’t go home in the middle of something it drives me mad. Chemoxy support flexible working so if I get frustrated or lose inspiration I take a longer lunch hour and head to the gym.

Tell us a little bit about your roles and how they came about?

I started as an engineer which I loved and I travelled the world in this role, even spending 14 months in Taiwan and making a desperately sad attempt to learn Mandarin Chinese.

However, I quickly caught the bug for commercial and moved first into a sales role and then business management. Prior to joining Chemoxy as Commercial Director I was Global Procurement Director in Lucite and was lucky enough to travel to China, Japan, Singapre, Taiwan and the USA .

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

I had a fabulous mentor when I joined ICI and he helped me navigate my first few years in work and helped me complete my Chartered Engineering qualification. I currently manage a team of ten staff and mentoring skills are critical to help people development.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I have been very lucky with all of my jobs and the teams I have worked in and so I couldn’t point to any one change I would have liked. However, when I had my daughter I was very glad of a long maternity leave and a part time return to work. My employer was fantastic and I would wish that for all young women.

How would you encourage more young girls and women into a career in STEM?

I think exposure to STEM projects and challenges up to Year 9 are critical. In addition I think getting young women into the workplace to see what the environment is really like is helpful. When I was 17 I joined a Women Into Science and Engineering event which included a tour of a shipyard, a telecom factory and walk around the local uni – I fell in love with it straight away.

How do you juggle your career and your personal life?

Just like everyone else.

I was once told you cannot balance modern careers with a personal life the best you can do is manage your energy – I think if you find an inspiring job which you thrive on managing the energy required for both parts of your life is much easier.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am still really proud of taking a secondment in Taiwan when I was 25, but my move to Chemoxy International after 24 years with my previous employer is very significant to me. I took the step of moving from purchasing back into sales & marketing and from a large company to an SME – I am proud to have made such a good decision.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I want to be part of Chemoxy International’s success. We have a super team here and truly invest in people through professional development and programs like Better Health at Work. If through growth we can create new jobs that would be a huge achievement I could be proud of.