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Exploring Roles and Career Paths in the Personal Care Industry

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On April 9, 2019, the MBS Program hosted a career panel discussion for the Personal Care Industry. The panelists were drawn from different specialties, providing some glimpse of the various opportunities within the industry. Having these panelists speak about their roles and reaching their career goals gave the attending students the opportunity to learn about the different careers paths within the Personal Care Industry. 


The Career Panel discussing their roles in the industry

Different Roles in the Personal Care Industry

The most well-known role in the industry is a formulation chemist, or what we sometimes refer to as a bench chemist. Sabina Gosto and Kristina Kannheiser both formulate products for their companies. Sabina Gosto, who works for Kiehl’s (a L’oreal brand), gave insight into working for a global company that sells finished goods, products that you see in the market. She works closely with the Product Development Team when creating a product to match results to expectations. On the other hand, Kristina Kannheiser works on the supplier’s side, where companies sell raw materials (ingredients) to companies that sell finished goods or contract manufacturers. Kristina works closely with the Marketing Team and the Sales Team. She formulates products that include the raw materials that her company is selling to show their customers what type of products they can create using those ingredients. She was recently promoted and will now be assisting customers on technical difficulties to help them learn how to formulate with her company’s ingredients. 


Speaking of suppliers, a related type of company is referred to as a distributer. Distributers are companies that represent multiple suppliers in their portfolio. This helps those suppliers reach out to a greater audience, as distributers have many connections with multiple companies. Andrea Gadford is an Account Manager for IMCD, which is a sales role. She works to create and keep relationships with brands, global companies, and contract manufacturers. She meets with vendors to discuss the different raw materials that her company distributes. In this role, she speaks to formulation chemists and the procurement departments of the companies. This type of role requires enough technical background to explain how the ingredients work as well as an understanding of business transactions. 


A brand or a global company may create their own products in-house, but what happens if they do not have certain manufacturing capabilities needed to produce their products? This is where contract manufacturers come into play. Contract manufacturers are companies that formulate products, but also have the manufacturing capabilities to produce products at a larger scale. Different contract manufacturers have different specialties and offer multiple services. Matthew Brennan, manager of the Business Excellence and Analytics department at Bentley Laboratories (a private contract manufacturer), oversees internal processes to keep the business running efficiently and smoothly. He analyzes data for insights into upper management practices in running departments and their alignment with the company’s business objectives. This role encompasses the basis of the MBS program whereby science is connected with business. 


A well-known department in the industry is a regulatory department. This department covers many aspects of a company: they check compliancy of a product to determine if it can be sold globally or in certain countries; they register products, especially those sold in Europe; and they oversee the verbiage used on the artwork of a brand. Nadine Goldman, a Senior Regulatory Manger at Boots Retail, works in claim substantiation. She determines what claims, which a brand wants to make, can or cannot be used. She verifies that there is data to support a claim, but also determines the acceptability of a claim from a regulatory standpoint. In the Personal Care Industry, verbiage is very important because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the National Advertising Division (NAD) look to make sure that claims that are customer facing are not misleading or contain drug-related verbiage. 


Another type of company in the industry is a third-party testing facility. Such facilities conduct clinical studies, facilitate consumer perception studies, or provide market research consultants. Ron Rentel is the President of Consumer Eyes, a global consumer research company. They work with brands during their development stages by tracking future trends in multiple product categories as well as consulting for companies with marketing needs. This type of company is essential for the industry to better understand consumers and marketing trends. 


Lastly, Amy Wyatt has multiple roles within the industry, representing her company and industry organizations. Amy Wyatt is the Vice President of Research and Development and Regulatory at Chanel and the President of the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). Ever since she joined the industry, she has been involved in industry organizations such as the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC), where she started as a secretary at a local chapter but went on to become President of the national office, and the Personal Care Product’s Council (PCPC), where she served as an executive committee member. These organizations are key to the industry in that they keep scientists abreast of new technologies, new ingredients, and provide insightful seminars to for those who want to learn about the industry or just stay up-to-date. Amy mentioned how important it is to go above and beyond to join these organizations for the networking opportunities. 


The Panelists: (from left to right) Sabina Gosto (Group Leader – L’oreal), Nadine Goldman (Sr. Regulatory Manager – Boots Retail), Amy Wyatt (VP, R&D and Regulatory – Chanel), Kristina Kannheiser (Sr. Formulations Chemist – Presperse), Andrea Gafford (Account Manager – IMCD), Ron Pantel (Presdient – Consumer Eyes) and Matthew Brennan (Manager, Business Excellence & Analytics – Bentley Labs).

The Unknown Leads to Endless Possibilities

A takeaway common to all the panelists is that they did not know about the industry until they were in it. Most, if not all, the panelists graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biology, or Engineering. They were unfamiliar with the Personal Care Industry, in part because ending up in the industry was not a part of their initial plan after college. Students should remember to be open minded and unafraid to pivot career paths. Every experience you have is valuable for future endeavors.  

Always challenge yourself, take risks, and be involved, either in committees at your company or industry organizations. Take advantage of the resources around you and network as much as you can. These tips will help you stand out as a professional, but also show the passion you have for the industry. 

Be on the Lookout

Signup for Supplier’s Day 2019, an industry event hosted by the New York Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. A “you do not want to miss” event. Go and connect with companies and industry professionals. Learn more about the industry and bring your resumes! This can give you an edge if you are looking for internships, job positions, or co-ops. 



Diana M. Gonzalez
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