To mark International Women’s Day, we announced a series of features celebrating the many talented women working at Lucite International (LI). In the first of this series we speak to Helen Harte, research scientist at our Newton Aycliffe site in the UK, about her career so far.

Woodham Academy

Pictured: Helen demonstrates metallographic encapsulation to students of Woodham Academy.


When did you join LI?

HH: I joined what was originally ICI in April 1988 and have continued my career here through a few company name changes ever since – Zeneca, Ineos and now currently Lucite International.


How long have you been in your current role?

HH: I have been working in acrylics for 17 years as a research scientist.


Are you happy with your career progress since joining LI?

HH: I feel that research jobs are very flexible and your career is more self-driven than some areas. There have always been opportunities but I reached a point where I was enjoying what I was doing and happy not progress into management.


What do you enjoy most about your work?

HH: The team work side of it is outstanding. The R&D team work together on projects and we are all multi-skilled. I never worry if I’m away from work on holiday as somebody else will pick up urgent work such as plant trials.

The work is so varied and every day is different; you may be in the lab all day one day, on the plant another, or a mixture of both environments depending on what’s needed. You get to manage your own projects and there’s a lot of flexibility with working on your own projects and working together as a team on shared ones.

If you develop a product, you follow that from invention through to commercialization of the grade. It is very rewarding work in that respect.


What advice would you give to women aspiring to work in the chemicals industry?

HH: Science is an excellent subject to study as it is quite a niche area; research jobs are particularly attractive because of their flexible and varied nature.

Being involved in research on a plant-based site is, to me, much more rewarding than working in a dedicated laboratory and offers opportunities to get involved across teams such as production, warehouse, sales, engineering, even maintenance.