Please welcome Dr. Calvin Emanuel to our blog! Today we are highlighting his career as a Physical Organic Chemist in honor of National Chemistry Week. In addition to his role at Shell Chemical, Dr. Emanuel serves on the Board of Trustees for the Chemical Educational Foundation. We are grateful for his service and for taking the time to share more about his fascinating job in the chemical industry.

Why did you pursue a career in chemistry?

While I was in high school, I had a chemistry teacher, Mr. Fletcher Williams, who taught me what chemistry was and how chemistry was a part of everything we did and an integral part of our lives. I have always loved learning how thing work and how they can be modified. Chemistry to me was exciting, and it opened a new world for me coming from a small school in South Carolina. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a Chemist or Chemical Engineer. Ultimately, I earned a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry.

What does your job entail?

Currently, I work for Shell Chemical and I am the Commercial Manager for Solvents in the Americas. My primary responsibility is for the profit and loss for the solvents business in the Americas. I manage the commercial team and set the direction for the business.

What aspect of your job do you find most interesting?

The part of my job I find most interesting and challenging is leading my team. Unlike molecules in a flask for which you have known kinetics, thermodynamic properties, and Safety Data Sheets, you can’t always get people to perform to the level that you want.

What does a typical day look like for you?

The fun part of my role is there is not a typical day. Some days are customer focused and other days are spent looking internally to address our opportunities. Most mornings, I start around 7:00 a.m. and read and respond to emails. Then, I like to check in with the commercial team. The rest of day will typically involve working on projects or large opportunities. I try to leave by 5 most days to get home to my family.

Tell us about a cool project on which you’re working.

One of the most exciting projects that I am working on is the growth of GTL (Gas To Liquids) Solvents. GTL Solvents have been developed to deliver the following performance characteristics – reduced environmental impact, high purity, and low odor. Finding applications where these products deliver benefits to our customers over existing products is the cool part and involves chemistry and application knowledge.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is interacting with our customers. I love to learn how our customers are using our products to address problems and create value.

How does your career allow you to give back to your community and society?

Working for Shell has given me the chance to be a part of company that is aiming to meet the energy needs of society in ways that are economically, socially, and environmentally viable, now and in the future. My business plays a part in this overall goal. I feel as though if I am successful in business, we are making the world a better place.

What would you say to a student considering a career path in chemistry?

Chemistry is the catalyst to your future. It opens doors from education, manufacturing, and R&D to business. The career paths are only limited by your interest and drive.