Senior Chemist / Lab Manager

Senior Chemist / Lab Manager

Job Description

This is a senior role for all areas of the Chemistry Laboratory, covering in-depth chemical analysis to meet customer delivery and quality expectations whilst maximising and continuously improving production efficiencies and minimising costs.  Develop, motivate and lead the Chemistry Laboratory team.

Responsible for

Chemistry Laboratory Team

Reporting to

Technical Services Director

Key responsibilities and accountabilities

  • To plan and maintain work systems, equipment, procedures and policies that enable and encourage the optimum performance of people and resources.
  • To plan, direct and oversee the operation and fiscal health of the department.
  • Provide oversight and direction to staff in accordance with the company’s policies and procedures.
  • Review performance data that includes financial, sales and activity reports to monitor and measure departmental productivity.
  • Use of classical wet chemistry and modern instrumental techniques for the analysis of a wide range of metal alloys and related materials.
  • Carry out research, development and validation in existing and new methods / instrumentation and deliver relevant training.
  • Perform investigation type work using consultative chemical and metallurgical knowledge and issue technical reports.
  • Work under pressure, with a hands-on and flexible approach, to achieve deadlines.
  • Liaise effectively with customers to understand and meet their demands from initial enquiry, through sampling requirements to certification and relevance of results.
  • Ensure the Chemistry Laboratory team delivers a high standard of customer service whilst maintaining commercial viability.
  • Any other work of a similar level allocated by the Technical Services Director but not fully outlined within this job description.

Essential Technical Knowledge

  • In-depth chemical analysis capability: Glow Discharge Spectroscopy, Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES), elemental analysis for carbon, sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen, classical Gravimetric and Volumetric “Wet” methods, Qualitative Depth Profile Analysis to identify material coatings, metallurgical treatments, Component Cleanliness checks, debris investigation.
  • Detailed Process and Methodology control and efficiency.
  • Full Commercial understanding of an independent laboratory testing facility.
  • Quality Management capabilities and control which meet the requirements of internal and external approvals / accreditations. Knowledge of UKAS or Nadcap accreditations.
  • Leadership skills including workload management, people management (coaching, mentoring and empowering staff), resource management.

Person Specification

  • Forward thinking, able to develop the laboratory and its people including delivery of multi-skills training to the Chemistry Laboratory team.
  • Able to demonstrate Continuous Improvement skills.
  • Customer oriented approach to providing high quality analysis on time.
  • A team-player.
  • A strong communicator.
  • A commercially focussed scientist able to develop the laboratory in line with business goals.

Qualifications and Experience

  • Appropriate qualifications in Chemistry.
  • Relevant experience in the field of metallurgical chemistry is essential.
  • Experience in leadership and management in a commercial environment preferred.


  • Negotiable subject to experience.

Closing date

  • Applications to be received by 12 noon on 20 February 2014


There are no glass ceilings in manufacturing






Debbie Mellor


Debbie has been with Keighley Laboratories for her whole career, starting as an office junior in the Accounts Department, when she left school.  She spent her early years developing and progressing in the finance function, which eventually led to her controlling the department.  By 1997 she was Company Secretary.

Although Debbie had ambitions to become a Director at the company, her move into the role of acting Managing Director in 2007, was unexpected.  She stepped in and took on the reigns when the former Managing Director became ill.  She took the permanent role of leading the company the following year and has now been Managing Director for over five years.  She told EEF, that having a financial background is beneficial when running the business, but it did not prepare her for the level of interaction with customers and external bodies, when she became the face of the company.

Having taken on the role by circumstance rather than design, she has relished the challenges and rewards the job has brought, saying “it’s a very demanding role, but I wouldn’t change it.”  However, one thing she would alter is the opportunity to have a mentor.  Having a mentor would have helped her make the transition from finance to Managing Director, allowing her to seek advice on wider business decisions.  In fact, her belief in mentoring to grow and develop employees has led her to act as an informal mentor for her senior management team.  She explained to EEF “I am there as an advisor, a mentor and a confident.”

Optimism, drive, persistence and compassion are the attributes Debbie believes she brings to the role of Managing Director.  Confidence is another of her strengths, something she feels is essential in senior roles, but which can be developed throughout your career and with mentoring.  Contrary to popular belief, she is not convinced that women lack confidence over men and furthermore she does not believe that this is the main barrier to either gender progressing in their careers.  Instead, she believes it has more to do with whether they have the willingness to learn and develop.  Additionally, in her experience “the opportunities are there to be had,” but the awareness of these chances may be lacking.

Development of staff is a high priority at Keighley Laboratories.  They not only assist employees that request further development, but also proactively identify aspiring individuals and encourage them to take on additional skills and qualifications, so that they can progress within the company.  Her only restriction in developing employees, can be finding suitable external training, such as relevant apprenticeship programmes.

Debbie sees the value in having diversity at board and senior management level, as she thinks this “gives a breadth of experience and opinion.”  Nevertheless, she is adamantly opposed to any form of positive discrimination in favour of women, whether this is quotas for boards or policies within companies to support female progress.  In her view “if somebody has the drive and wants to progress, then it will happen naturally.”

She feels the poor image of the manufacturing industry is its biggest challenge in attracting in the next generation.  Young people in particular, are more drawn towards office based occupations in more glamorous sectors.  She explained to EEF this is why she believes that even though senior women can act as role models, at this time, this will do little to entice women into the industry.

Debbie is also Director on the management committee of the Contract Heat Treatment Association (CHTA), the only woman among 19 officers.

Debbie believes the industry’s unpopularity as a profession is compounded by the structure of the current education system, where there are two main stumbling blocks for driving talent into manufacturing.  Firstly, the lack of promotion of the importance of the STEM subjects to pupils, limiting the career opportunities which are open to them.  Secondly, she considers the way in which schools and colleges are funded is a disadvantage.  They get paid to retain pupils in education through to A-Level, which means they are unlikely to encourage youngsters to consider vocation careers, such as taking up apprenticeships.  She also feels this may have a detrimental effect on the level of interest in manufacturing from local schools.  For example Debbie told EEF she would willingly accept any invitations to talk in schools, however the last visit they undertook was several years ago.

In the past, Keighley Laboratories ran work placements and site visits for schools, but again this has stopped.  The company is still very keen to work with them, but the schools find the paperwork associated with complying with risk assessments for Health & Safety too onerous to make it a viable option.

Regardless of the concerns she has over the wider perceptions of manufacturing, she is keen to point out that women can advance in the sector, as in her experience “there are no glass ceilings anybody can progress.”  Her final suggestion for aspiring women is “Work hard be determined and have faith in your abilities.”

A Full Spectrum Of Metal Analysis Techniques

A Full Spectrum Of Metal Analysis Techniques

The need for material verification is an increasingly important issue across a range chemical analysisof industries like aerospace, energy, rail and general engineering, since meeting the correct specifications can be critical to product performance, even public safety. The chemical analysis of metallic materials is one such procedure and it involves determining the precise elemental constituents of a test piece, to establish that it meets the required specification, to overcheck bought-in stock, to identify unknown material or to provide evidence in a product failure investigation.

The Chemical Analysis department of Keighley Labs offers an independent, bespoke service to aerospace manufacturers, the energy sector, rail industry, foundries, plating companies, galvanisers, component importers and general engineers, providing a fast turnaround and precise material verification. In addition to classic wet chemistry, it employs advanced Inductively Coupled Plasma, Atomic Absorption and Glow Discharge spectroscopy to ensure the optimum method for a particular application,  as well as industry standard techniques for carbon, sulphur, oxygen and nitrogen analysis. Continue reading

Keighley Laboratories Offers Advanced NDT Resources

Keighley Laboratories Offers Advanced NDT ResourcesNon destructive testing

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a highly valued quality assurance and analytical technique that helps safeguard against the potential failure of engineering material, components, fastenings and structures. Since it enables in-depth evaluation of a material without causing damage, NDT often provides the final QA stage before a new product enters service, while in-service NDT can be the last line of defence against component failure in the field.

As part of its broad range of advanced metallurgical solutions, Keighley Laboratories offers a specialised NDT service for clients in the aerospace, automotive, petrochemical, nuclear, defence, mechanical engineering, construction, civil engineering and allied industries, covering both laboratory and site inspection. The company continually invests in staff training and new technology to expand its capabilities. Continue reading

Enlarged Pit Furnace Accommodates Today’s Larger Components

Enlarged Pit Furnace Accommodates Today’s Larger Components

Developments in renewable energy, mining and quarrying, oil exploration, marine andHeat treatment other applications have led to significant increases in the size of power transmission components like gears, shafts, pinions and bearings, to handle greater productivity demands. As these large components are exposed to severe duty cycles, there is renewed emphasis on the heat treating methods needed to enhance their wear resistance and strength properties.

Estimated by industry sources to represent around 10 per cent of component manufacturing costs, heat treatment modifies the microstructure of metallic materials, influencing mechanical characteristics like strength, ductility, toughness, hardness and wear resistance. Thus, it increases the service life and technical performance of metallic parts, which is even more critical for the new generation of larger components that are crucial to mechanical function and usually difficult to replace.

Anticipating growing customer demand for processing larger gears, shafts and other components, sub-contract heat treatment specialist Keighley Laboratories of West Yorkshire has enlarged the size of one of its largest pit furnaces, increasing dimensions to 1110mm working diameter and almost 1800mm maximum length, in the process gaining 30 per cent in overall capacity. Continue reading