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Demystifying an industry: shining a spotlight on science  

Chris Finnis, biotechnology industry speaker

Meet Chris Finnis (Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 2002). Keen to help and give something back to the University, but with a busy career and family life, finding time to spare is a struggle. Understanding the ever-increasing importance of employability in modern student life, an invitation to speak at a careers event about his work in the biotechnology industry gave Chris the right opportunity. One year on, as we launch a new series of Spotlight events aimed at careers in science, we meet Chris to talk about demystifying life in industry…

A world beyond academia

“I’ve worked in the biotechnology industry in Nottingham for over 20 years. It’s an incredibly fascinating industry with an exciting future. Technology has developed so quickly and is continuing to do so at a rapid pace – there’s amazing science taking place, and it’s very inspiring. But I don’t think students can get a good idea about what life is like in industry without speaking to someone working within it.

Often it's as simple as just demystifying what's out there. And being able to answer questions that course tutors weren't in the best position to help with.  

“There’s nothing quite like having a discussion with a student, where you can fill them in on the background and explain the organisation of the industry. When you look at a biotechnology company, there won’t just be people working in labs. They could be in research, regulatory affairs, patent departments, business development, production… There’s a whole range of areas that students might be interested in knowing more about. 

Making a difference 

“I think it’s important for students to be well-informed so they can make the right choices. An open and friendly discussion can build confidence in students – and the extended network of industry contacts that you can help them access can be invaluable. When I was starting out, I got an industrial placement in antibiotic research which really helped me when I decided to do my PhD at The University of Nottingham. Now I’m in a position where I can give something back, I think it’s an important tradition to continue. 

Finding the time is the most difficult part. I know lots of people want to get involved but are struggling for time. But opening a dialogue between industry and universities is hugely beneficial. 

“The company I work for now is small, but through my involvement with Nottingham, we’re exploring the idea of running placements which could lead to employment, because the calibre of students at the University is so high.    

“Volunteering for the University has been hugely satisfying, and a lot easier than I first thought. One of the students I spoke to at an event recently got in touch to tell me she’d secured a position at a company I put her contact with. It was great to hear that it had worked out for her. That’s why I do it – it’s rewarding to make a difference.”  

Join us – Spotlight opportunities 

We’re launching our next series of Spotlight careers events – could you be one of our speakers? 

Where are they now? Chemical Engineering 

When: 9 February, evening 

Who: Chemical engineering alumni who have graduated in the last five years 

The details: Role profile

Take part

Science in Engineering

When: 13 February, 5.30–8 pm 

Who: Alumni from the Faculty of Science working in an engineering role or within an engineering company 

The details: Role profile

Take part

Spotlight on Construction

When: 14 February, evening 

Who: Alumni from all faculties who work in the construction industry at a mid-senior career level 

The details: Role profile

Take part




Spotlight on Aerospace

When: 21 February, evening 

Who: Alumni who work in the aerospace industry at all levels

The details: Role profile

Take part


Spotlight on Nutrition

When: 23 February, 6-8pm 

Who: Alumni from nutrition and food science courses

The details: Role profile

Take part


Science in Finance

When: 1 March, 5.30–8 pm 

Who: Alumni from the Faculty of Science working in the finance sector

The details: Role profile

Take part




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