Working as a chemist at Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy, Paul Cooper develops analysis methods for the nickel plant laboratory and handles their quality assurance processes.
In addition to actual laboratory work, Paul's job description includes office duties, meetings and networking in conferences and seminars.
Time management is the biggest challenge for a method developer
After chemistry and information technology studies, Paul now works as a chemist at Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy, a producer of nickel and nickel chemicals. His main tasks at the plant laboratory are the development and quality assurance of analysis methods.
"Method development means the planning, implementation and calibration of various analysis equipment and methods. Quality assurance refers to the evaluation of the performance level and suitability required of the methods," Paul describes his job.
"For example, right now I am developing a method that allows a fast analysis of solid deposit samples. This involves measuring the samples by means of x-rays, a technique that is widely used by geologists, for example."
In practice, Paul's work consists of testing, data processing and statistical analysis of results as well as comparison of results between different methods and also those from external laboratories. He also follows the development of new analysis methods and advances in the analysis equipment market. He is thus able to spend some of his work time outside the laboratory and the plant area.
"I often attend conferences, seminars and trade shows. I create contacts and talk to equipment manufacturers, sales representatives and service personnel."
Paul sees the possibility to work independently and to use his own initiative as the best parts of his job. The work offers a good balance between laboratory and office work, with no shortage of challenges or things to do.
"The biggest challenge in this work is time management. The only way to do it well is to establish strict priorities. Especially during hectic times I must be able to evaluate the urgency and priority order of projects."
Paul says that already at the primary and secondary school stages chemistry felt like the easiest and simplest of subjects for him. This is why he started to study chemistry at the University of Jyväskylä after upper secondary school, combining it with information technology studies.
In the course of his studies, Paul found himself interested in geology and decided to develop this area further during an exchange studentship period in Sweden.
"For some reason, stones have always fascinated me. Because it was not possible to study geology in Jyväskylä, I spent eight months studying it in the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and then continued at the University of Turku."
Paul came to Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy when the company was looking for a thesis worker to conduct XRF spectrometry-related research.
"The thesis worker position at Norilsk was a real stroke of luck for me because I had wanted to do just this kind of research," he tells us.
After completing his thesis, Paul was hired as a permanent employee at Norilsk.