Traditional career pathways often imply a singular route, for example from undergraduate, to PhD/post-doctoral researcher and ultimately to academic positions. Yet, a range of career options exist, with opportunities to move between roles, in academia, industry, startups and policy, underpinned by transferrable skills.

The concept of building a career portfolio instead of a career path emphasises diversifying professional experiences and skills rather than following a more linear career trajectory. This approach involves accumulating a broad range of experiences, skills, and achievements that collectively showcase your capabilities and adaptability. It’s about being agile in a changing job market, continuously learning, and being open to various opportunities. This strategy aims to create a robust professional profile that can adapt to changing industry trends and personal interests, offering more career flexibility and resilience.

Examples of members of the UK battery research community with a diverse career portfolio:

Emma Kendrick’s career journey was featured in Masterclass 27: Career stories from the battery sector (from 16:10). Emma is now Professor of Energy Materials at the University of Birmingham, but she spent nearly 10 years in industry roles after holding a number of post-doc positions. She moved back to academia in 2016. She is also co-founder of a battery spin-out company About:Energy. She was named as Researcher Development Champion in the 2021 Faraday Institution Community Awards.

Melanie Loveridge, Associate Professor, WMG, has spent equal parts of her career in academia, industry and a spin-out company. After completing her BSc in biochemistry, she moved to industry for 6 years, before returning to academia to complete a PhD. After a stint as a Research Officer at a university, she moved to the battery start-up Nexeon for 5 years, where she held technical specialist and leadership roles. She moved back to academia in 2014.

Jennifer Channell completed a PhD in biosciences before working for five years for research councils (EPSRC and Innovate UK), where she held various roles overseeing a range of research projects at universities and research organisations such as the Faraday Institution. She made the move to industry in 2023, and is now Commercial and Partnership Lead at UK battery SME Anaphite. She has shared her career journey with Faraday Institution PhD researchers on a number of occasions.

Mark Buckwell completed his PhD in electrical engineering, before taking a role as a Clinical Research Techician and Clinical Equipment Specialist for Hammersmith Medicines Research. His first experience on working on batteries came when he moved to UCL as a research associate, including working on the SafeBatt project. He is now the Senior Lab Manager of the new Advanced Propulsion Laboratory at UCL East – a permanent position at UCL on a non-academic track.