Video: An Interview with Emily Peck, Laboratory Manager
Emily Peck at the MicroCare lab.
You might recognize Emily Peck from this year’s 40 Under 40 list. We chose an image of her smiling in a lab coat to open the article because she seems to embody what the 40 Under 40 program is all about — talent, enthusiasm and an eagerness to excel. At that time, she was a senior chemist leading MicroCare laboratory research and development on new, safer industrial cleaning fluids. She still works on those kinds of projects, but she’s already moved up into a laboratory manager position at the MicroCare critical cleaning lab.
I was lucky enough to sit down with her recently. She discussed what she loves about working in the lab, gave some great advice to young finishers and discussed her personal accomplishments (did you know she runs a home bakery too?).
Products Finishing: Hi, Emily, thanks for talking to us today! You are in the in Products Finishing’s 2020 class of 40 under 40. We thought it would be good to get some more insight from you about what it's like to be a young person in the finishing industry and how you got to be where you are. So thanks for taking the time!
Emily Peck: Thank you!
PF: Of course. Can you tell us how you got involved in the cleaning/finishing industry?
Emily Peck: Yes! In graduate school, I worked in a surface science lab. I got my master's degree in physical chemistry. That actually has some similar aspects to cleaning and finishing but on a much smaller scale — almost a theoretical scale. So when I finished graduate school, the prospect of working for a small company in a more practical, hands-on lab role is what initially really attracted me to work at MicroCare.
PF: Awesome. So tell us a little bit about what your role is with MicroCare.
Emily Peck: I recently took on the role of lab manager. Under this role, I oversee projects that come into the lab and coordinate research and new product development efforts to meet our customers’ needs and our business needs. Part of that role also includes some quality and regulatory responsibilities. The MicroCare critical cleaning lab takes on projects that really run the gamut and no two days are ever the same, which makes it a really great place to work and a really exciting work environment. I work with a really amazing group of chemists in the critical cleaning lab. MicroCare considers this to be our center of excellence. And so we all really strive to live up to that every day.
PF: Very cool. So what is your favorite part of your job?
Emily Peck: My favorite part, aside from having ever-changing challenges, is is being challenged in general — with the development program or a new problem in the industry that needs to be solved with a creative solution. And I think that in a lab job, a lot of people don't realize there is a lot of creative work that goes into research and development and coming up with new solutions to a problem that doesn't have a solution. That's why we do research and development.
At a small company like MicroCare, I'm really able to apply my creative thinking and critical thinking skills to come up with those types of solutions, and take that from development through the process of implementation and even maintenance, once it's developed. And I would also add that, when a new product is developed and finished, it's really rewarding to see things go from the infancy of development and research into a finished product that you can be really proud of.
PF: Yeah, that's really cool that you can see your idea move from conception to being out there in the world with people using it. What career milestones would you say helped you get where you are?
Emily Peck: This isn't necessarily a milestone, but I think just hard work. Consistent attention to detail is something that's really helped me along the way. And also having a good attitude. You know, I wake up every day with the attitude that I'm ready to work and I want to do the best job that I can. And so I think that's really helped me get to where I am.
PF: Very cool. What would you say is your proudest accomplishment? This can be work related or not work related.
Emily Peck: My proudest accomplishment is more of a personal endeavor of mine and it's a home bakery that I launched a couple years ago. It started as a hobby, and I've worked hard on my nights and weekends to grow it into something that I really love to do.
PF: That's amazing and really shows off what a hard, dedicated worker you are. I like to think baking is a little bit chemistry. What advice do you have for other young people who are either looking to go into the industry, trying to find their place or trying to move their way up in their companies?
Emily Peck: I would say, it’s ok to make mistakes. So one piece of advice is, when you make a mistake, because everyone makes mistakes, to keep your head up and to learn from it, and to move forward from that mistake. As a young professional, there are a lot of experts in our industries and mentors who want to help. So I think it's also important to listen to those people and learn from them. But ultimately be able to make your own decision based on what they've taught you and the information that you've acquired from them.
So I think that's really important.
PF: Yeah, that's great advice. And finally, what are you excited about doing in the future? What are your goals for what comes next?
Emily Peck: My goals are just to continue to grow. I'm continuing to learn, I know that I have so much more to learn in my career and I’m looking forward to being able to tap into more of my potential as my career goes on.
PF: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Those are all my questions. Do you have anything else that you want to say?
Emily Peck: Thank you for including me in the 40 under 40 list. It's really an honor to be included and it's great to talk to you. Thank you!