I started my career as a life scientist, but have since diversified into very different fields. My personal role model is Jacob Bronowski. What impresses me about him is that he bridged the worlds of art and science; of free expression and scholarship and enjoyed communicating this to the widest possible audience through the media available to him at the time.
Bronowski maintained that technical people should spend time away from their convergent studies and get involved in business, literature, drama and art. At the time Bronowski was active, this idea seemed heretical, since the scientific establishment was focused upon the glittering prizes of scientific success which, they believed, came only from a monastic devotion to fundamental research. Even lecturing graduate students was considered by many to be an unwelcome distraction!
Of course, things have moved on since that time and technologists have become better communicators. This has been stimulated by incursions of the mass media into research labs and the rise of venture capital. Techologists can now find fame and fortune through start-up companies, television and in print. Some very effective communicators have emerged from academia and this trend is surely set to continue.
I gained my first public experiences in communication by addressing specialist audiences and as a result was invited to commentate on " life, the universe and everything " in the News and Views column of Macmillan's flagship journal Nature , where I was also fortunate enough on a number of occasions to publish the results of my own original research. I was also a contributor to a widely-read Reed-Elsevier publication called Biotechnology
I eventually left academia and joined a fledgling biotechnology company and was suddenly immersed in the world of commerce - bridging science, not with art in this case, but with profit. My company was successful and was as a consequence it was soon sold to a much bigger one - but only after we had spent more than a year marketing the business to visiting senior management teams from phamaceutical companies, using carefully crafted audio-visual presentations and smoked salmon lunches.
AT that time of uncertain career direction, I decided then to opt for private enterprise and have worked as a freelance since 1990 in various fields involving communication. I started a limited company to provide technical marketing consultancy and over the years have consulted for both public and private sectors.. I have been involved in extensive editorial work, given lectures on behalf of clients and written about their products and services in the press. As a spin-off from a long contract with the public sector I developed an annual conference and annual exhibition which "went international" in 1996 to southern France. Publishing the results of these conferences led me directly into book production and the new media of the World Wide Web and Digital Discs.
Following the disposal of this scientific and technical business, I entered a partnership with a graphic designer under the business name "Medi@ctiv" - a Web and print design enterprise. Working to get our clients' businesses or other organisations online, we were dealing with topics ranging from railways to reiki. We had our share of high profile clients too including Langley Industries plc, The Human Genome Organisation, Sturmey Archer cycle gears and Brooks Saddles!. At present I am lecturing, writing and publishing online both in my own right and for clients. My early mentors might not have approved this career passage, but I'm sure Jacob Bronowski would have understood!