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Ray Li, Associate Director at Morgan Philips Group, argues that employees and jobseekers need to embrace change to make the most of their career opportunities.

In an ever-changing, volatile business world, it’s no surprise that the chemicals industry, both up- and downstream, has gone through dramatic change in the last few years.

The oil price fall in 2013 and 2014 has left a lasting impact on the industry.  The reaction of major players was to embark upon major change programmes including M&A, reorganisations and/or significant layoffs of staff.  For example, the merger of Dow Chemicals with DuPont in 2017 resulted in a significant restructuring and downsizing of many departments.

One of the major impacts of this period of change is that in many mid to large chemicals companies senior management positions are now held by generation Y employees (those born in the 1980s and 1990s).  With them they have brought new attitudes, viewpoints and approaches.

Meanwhile, while the Chinese market has seen a fall-off in in-bound investment, Chinese companies are seizing the opportunity to acquire international businesses to fuel aggressive global expansion.

Alongside this, chemicals companies are finally embracing the digital age by deploying artificial intelligence (AI), big data and online marketing.

Be prepared for yet more change.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to employees and job seekers in the chemicals industry is to be prepared to adapt to ongoing change.

Alongside this, take a proactive approach to keeping pace with those changes:

  1. Understand the market precisely. Consider what value you can bring to a prospective employer and explain it clearly.  This is particularly important in an environment where you may not be offered a salary increase when moving jobs.  Look at this as a short term obstacle and weigh it against the longer term opportunities you may have to progress.
  2. Understand what the market needs and keep pace as it evolves. Make sure you understand what your optimal role will demand of you.  Be honest with yourself about your short comings.  Understand what “good” looks like and how you might improve to be “the best” for the role.  Consider what new skills you will need to acquire.  Stretch yourself.
  3. Be open-minded. Sometimes you’ll hit a brick wall and it may seem that your options have run out.  The answer here is to be open-minded and think outside the box.  If finding a job is proving to be difficult, consider creating one.  Start a new business.  Become an entrepreneur.  Or consider how you might adapt to better fit the opportunities that do exist.

While the chemicals industry may be in a state of flux, opportunities still remain for agile candidates and those willing to adapt and change with the industry.  Make the best of the opportunities that exist to create a win-win situation for you and your employer.

Writer: Andy Powell

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