Subject: Chemistry

"I left education after sixth form and went straight into work. The company sponsored me to do an applied chemistry degree."

Claire, Flavourist and Innovation Director, Aromco Ltd

What does a flavourist do?

A flavourist’s role is to create, enhance or improve taste, and flavours are applied to a lot of different types of product, to recapture or regain the essence of the original product. Part of my role is to develop new ideas and more compelling opportunities to use flavourings. Often I’m looking at new sources of stimulation, so I crash categories into each other. I’ll take an idea that’s been used in confectionery and apply it in to a biscuit application, or I’ll take an idea that’s been used in a beverage and apply it into a hard-boiled candy.

What is your working environment like?

I could be in the lab one minute, I could be with customers the next; I could be researching another ingredient with a supplier, I could be at the library researching the next big thing in Russia, or I could be at my desk filing enquiries.

How did you get into this role?

After my A levels I wanted to go out and earn some money, so I was actually employed by a company that sponsored me to do further qualifications and my degree.

How do you use chemistry in your job?

I think chemistry as a qualification lends itself to a really wide and diverse range of different jobs. Obviously I’ve started off very heavily involved in the chemistry side of the business, but then actually progressed on to more of a commercial role. I think that having a chemistry qualification, or having any technical qualification – it might be in biochemistry, it might be in chemistry, it might be in physics, it might even be in biology – will lend itself to different roles within an organisation that you may not have expected.

What sort of person do you have to be to do your job?

To do my job, you have to be innately curious, to ask questions all the time. You have to be genuinely interested in food, drink and pharmaceutical. You have to be interested in process, you have to understand how products are produced, what ingredients are used in food substances, how to sell your products, and to be able to talk passionately about what you do and how you do it, and the flavour that you’ve got.

What do you like most about your job?

One of the best parts of my job is actually walking in to a supermarket and seeing people pick a product up off the shelf, which you’ve designed and invented. Your flavours are put into their shopping basket. That’s the best part of my job.

With thanks to The Royal Society of Chemistry

Find out more about chemistry

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