british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Viewpoint from an employee in RD

 
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Sustainability Report 2011
What I really enjoy about my role is being part of this exciting, emerging discipline.Sarah Cooney, Head of Scientific Collaboration and Communication, British American Tobacco Group Research & Development

Growing up, I had little experience of the tobacco industry, but like most people I was familiar with anti-tobacco rhetoric. So I never in a million years thought I would be part of the industry. But it is the best job I’ve ever had.

I trained as a geneticist in Canada and worked in plant biotechnology before moving to London in 1997 to work in science publishing. In late 2010, I gave a presentation to staff in British American Tobacco’s Group Research & Development (GR&D) department on how to get their manuscripts published. It was a real eye-opener: the quality of the work these scientists were doing was really good and they were passionate about it. And I could see why – it was genuinely interesting.

So when a permanent role came up a few months later, I decided to take the leap into working for a tobacco company. I would be using my experience of publishing to help the Group bring their scientific research to a wider public, by improving the impact of published work and helping the scientists to better navigate the publishing landscape. After all, what’s the point of being a science communicator if you can’t jump in at the deep end and work on a big challenge? 

What I really enjoy about my role is being part of this exciting, emerging discipline. It’s one that spans lots of different scientific areas, from traditional analytical chemistry to nanotechnology and aerosol science, taking in computational toxicology and biological models of disease along the way. And I can see the difference I make in this role to our scientists.

Our GR&D labs in Southampton have also become a place to bring visitors – both external stakeholders as well as British American Tobacco employees from around the globe who want to learn more about the science we are doing to support our approach to tobacco harm reduction. We’ve identified some of the top communicators among our scientists and I’m proud that the training I’ve delivered has helped to build their skills and confidence. They’re now more comfortable going out into the world and communicating our science.

Sarah Cooney, Head of Scientific Collaboration and Communication, British American Tobacco Group Research & Development

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