September 25, 2017

The Future of STEM Careers

 

Susan Kelliher, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for The Chemours Company, looks at how the chemical industry nurtures talent—from STEM studies to continuing education.



A headshot of Susan Kelliher, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, at The Chemours Company.

 

In the chemical industry, next to molecules, our greatest resource is a smart, educated workforce. STEM curriculums around the world help fill our talent pool. But it’s up to us to keep developing our people.



We start before we even recruit. While the STEM curriculum itself is good, keeping students interested is where we’re a little more challenged. There’s an opportunity for companies like Chemours to get students engaged in math and science education at an early stage, keeping them in the game.

One way to do this: We can take more of a university-relations than a university-recruiting approach. At Chemours, we send highly accomplished technical fellows to universities to teach and do original research while on sabbatical. This gives us the opportunity to interact early with students interested in chemistry.

Education doesn’t end with a university diploma. Most chemical companies, ours included, offer continuing education programs. Our technical people receive credit for participating in professional organizations, and we offer tuition reimbursement. We even offer in-house learning opportunities.

Chemours depends on a diverse workforce, and we take steps to attract talent of all sorts. And we develop that talent too. Chemours has a women’s network, which brings together women around the globe to create mentoring opportunities, share experiences, and come up with ideas to make Chemours a great place for women to work.

The pitch for joining the chemical industry is as compelling as it has ever been: Science, math, and engineering are terrific places to be. These are fields where things happen. If you are educated in STEM, you will have lots of opportunities. You can be creative; you can experience the satisfaction of making things better, of making something work, of building things, and of creating solutions that unlock the power of chemistry.

Preparing for a STEM career, a female chemistry student conducts research in a lab.

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This content was featured in the Chemical & Engineering News 9/25/17 issue.