News Oct 2019

What it’s like working at Innovia within a particular discipline

A behind the scenes glimpse into what it's like working at Innovia...

Stan – Biochemist

I came to Innovia after a short stint at the Ministry of Defence. What really appealed to me was the opportunity Innovia offered to use my Master’s in Biochemistry, while at the same time exposing me to a broad range of business problems. I’m constantly surprised by the new contexts in which I find myself applying and expanding on my knowledge of protein dynamics, epigenetics, and cellular physiology. Since I joined the company in 2018 I’ve worked with P&G, VF Corporation, PepsiCo and a whole host of other exciting companies, helping to tackle a huge range of complex challenges.

A big part of what makes Innovia such a fantastic place to work is the people you’ll be working alongside. Innovia’s holistic approach isn’t just marketing spin ­– on every project you find yourself working with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines, bringing new perspectives and new approaches to problem-solving. I commute from London to Cambridge for work, so I really appreciate Innovia’s commitment to work-life balance. The core hours system means I can fit work around the demands of my commute and life.

Guen – Veterinary surgeon

I’m a veterinary surgeon with a degree in Pharmacology. Before I came to Innovia, I spent years in companion animal veterinary medicine, teaching at a vet school, and working with laboratory animals. When I talk with our clients, they are often surprised that I’m a vet, but they don’t realise how transferrable my skills are. Not only do I have a very broad training in the biology of health and disease, but also I’m a trained consultant. There is a reason that we call a vet’s room a ‘consulting room’. The consultation process is the same, whether a client wants my advice on their dog or their innovation problem.

I love what I do. I enjoy applying skills and knowledge that I gained in my degree and in my previous jobs to completely unforeseen challenges. I relish the variety of work that I get involved in – about half is medical, and usually none is directly veterinary. I like to think from first principles – this helps when I have to think on my feet, and it helps me to operate on and manage projects in many different sectors. I also enjoy selling innovation work – the sales process is shorter than a project and more similar to the veterinary work in which I started!

Callum – Physicist

As a physicist finishing a PhD in Quantum Information, I decided that the long-term perspective of academia wasn’t for me. Instead I wanted to pursue a career where I could have a noticeable impact more immediately. At Innovia, I have the opportunity to apply my analytical mindset and technical knowledge in a range of industries. I have been surprised by how physics can be used to quickly determine whether a new idea could be practical. For example, I’ve used the heat diffusion equation to help innovate in apparel, food, medical devices, cosmetics, shaving, food storage and pillows!

Beyond the projects, Innovia is made special by the people. From day one, everyone has provided the support that I needed to develop in a new career. There are also lots of social opportunities, from summer frisbee to after-work pub trips, which was particularly helpful when settling into a new city. Finally, the range of disciplines at Innovia means I’m always learning new things. I love helping to combine insights from different disciplines to create concepts that none of us could have produced individually.


I joined Innovia after spending a couple of years in strategy consulting. I realised that, while I enjoyed the business aspects and variety, I missed science. Innovia provided the ideal opportunity to use both my business and strategy skills and my technical background, thinking about how companies should use their resources to support current business and future growth.

I’ve now been here nearly 10 years, which is far longer than I would have expected if you’d asked me when I started. I’ve worked on next generation carbon capture technologies, thought really hard about surgical imaging and surgeon behaviour and helped make many kinds of products and packaging more cost effective and more sustainable. Part of what makes this job so fascinating is dealing with technical uncertainty – how do you make long-term decisions when faced with changing technology, regulation and consumers, and yet keep what makes your business great?

I’ve stayed because of these interesting problems, and the chance to have insight into, and influence with, world-class companies. I work with with a great group of people; Innovia supports my professional development, and we have a strong set of values that ensures the work we do is both good for our clients and the world. I’m still looking for a chance to properly apply my astrophysics PhD though…

hannah – product designer

Before Innovia Technology, I attended Nottingham Trent University and graduated with a degree in Product Design. I originally came to Innovia on a 6-month contract, but years later I’m still here!

A typical day at Innovia doesn’t really exist, and that is something I find really exciting about working here. One day I could be in the workshop creating prototypes, the next I could be illustrating new product concepts. I am also actively encouraged to develop new skills. Since being here I have developed new capabilities in animation and project management. For me, the best thing about design at Innovia is working holistically. Often different disciplines approach problems from different angles – this means we come up with unique solutions, grounded in technical understanding.

Finally, my favourite thing about working at Innovia is the people. Innovia is full of bright, enthusiastic, fun people, and this is what makes Innovia special. There are always social activities going on, whether it’s a casual trip to the pub, frisbee after work, or even organised theatre trips, there is something for everyone!

oscar – chemical engineer

I did an internship at Innovia during my Chem Eng degree. This was a great experience and I came straight back after finishing my Master’s. My day-to-day job is varied and interesting: I’ve thought about how factories will look in 2050; analysed existing plants to see what can be improved today; helped clients find sustainable alternatives to plastics; and forecasted the market for sustainable aviation into the far future. When I was studying, I never imagined that I’d be working on such a diverse and holistic set of problems.

I’m quite protective of my spare time, and Innovia supports employees to make sure we’re not working long hours. This means I have time for volunteering and creative hobbies outside work. Most Innovians are similar, which makes the culture lovely – everyone is supportive so you can develop quickly and learn new skills. I’d definitely recommend Innovia to anyone who is curious about new things and wants a good balance between work and personal life.

Lily – chemist

I joined Innovia after completing a PhD in inorganic chemistry. I was looking for a role that allowed me to engage with science and use the knowledge I’d acquired from my studies to solve real-world problems — Innovia was a great fit. The move from academia to consultancy was made so much easier by the supportive and friendly work environment at Innovia. Both the formal training modules and guidance from more experienced consultants helped feel comfortable taking on positions of responsibility and allowed me to develop as a consultant quickly.

Until I started at Innovia, I didn’t have an appreciation of all the ways in which chemistry is relevant to so many different industries. I’ve used my skill set to think about crystallisation kinetics for cosmetics, Schiff-base formation for food, and thermodynamics for coatings. The nature of the problems we work on has also stretched me to learn more about other disciplines. I’ve been able to engage with materials science, soft-matter physics, and even behavioural science.

Interesting project work and professional development are not the only reasons I love working at Innovia. I truly enjoy spending time with the people I work with, both in work and outside of it. Whether it’s a brainstorming session on a project, making tote bags at a craft evening, or a quick pint at the pub on a Friday, it’s a great group of people to be around.

Emma – behavioural scientist

I came to Innovia a bit later in my career than most. Before joining the team in Cambridge, I’d worked for almost a decade in Research & Development in the food sector, gained a PhD in Experimental Psychology and an MSc in Health Psychology. My role at Innovia includes managing projects and providing expert input to teams. Highlights of my experiences include optimising food products, designing a drink driving intervention and helping clients upgrade their behavioural science skills.

I’ve always enjoyed applying psychology to real world problems. At Innovia, there is the opportunity to explore behavioural problems across a range of sectors. This suits me, as I have broad research interests and get to use my research skills regularly. Another advantage is working with (and learning from) colleagues with diverse skills and knowledge. Multi-disciplinary teams are fundamental to our way of working. So, ideation sessions can be hugely satisfying and fun with a chemist, designer and behavioural scientist in the same room!