At the end of my Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford, I discovered Exponent at a career fair. I was looking to be client-facing and solve problems on a meaningful time scale but had no idea you could consult on technical matters. After I met the team, I knew immediately that this was the kind of group that I wanted to join.
New Challenges at Every Turn
Working here is like being a volunteer firefighter. You don't know when the call is coming. You don't know what the premise of the call is going to be. And you are armed with your wits and your technical toolbox to solve those problems.
There's so much variety of work. Sometimes the call is helping a healthcare company decide what material to use in a medical device, such as a catheter. Other times I'm trying to solve a manufacturing problem that needed an explanation yesterday, or determining if trade secrets were stolen from a company.
We Make an Impact on a Meaningful Timescale
Our work in chemistry here at Exponent is especially interesting. We're in the position to help clients in development make proactive decisions on materials in an environment, but we also address questions of sustainability, lifecycle, and exposure. One of the coolest projects I've ever worked on at Exponent was an interesting request to assess the risk of having a device in your backpack. We had to produce a way to scientifically assess what is in the bottom of your backpack, purse, or book bag. It came down to our team being clever about assessing backpack dust, to help assess whether that dust could impact a device.
At Exponent, we consider the entire product lifecycle.
The world is getting more complex; devices are trending smaller, they want to be flexible, they're being implanted. At Exponent, we consider the entire product lifecycle. That comes with an increasing level of responsibility for due diligence. Things can go wrong at almost any stage of product development. Design. Manufacturing. In scaling up, implementation, unintended use. Clients must be diligent and have the right technical resources in place.
Whether it's evaluating water quality in a hospital system or a raw material for a medical device implant, our clients bring us questions of urgency and importance. And it's up to us to deliver scientific-based insights as quickly and effectively as we can.
One of Exponent's greatest assets is our ability to collaborate, speaking across engineering disciplines, addressing regulatory problems, and identifying design problems.
We have all of these scientific and engineering consultants in-house. We can build an expert ad hoc team and respond more quickly to client needs. The wealth of knowledge and depth of expertise of my peers continually surprises me. And it's so important, because addressing every problem is a team effort. No single issue falls within one person's purview, and you must be able to collaborate across disciplines, speak different technical languages, and find the right person for the project.
When we're faced with a project challenge, uncovering accurate insights is extremely important. We stick with our toolbox, using the scientific method and relying on an internal peer review process where your colleagues are asking you, did you consider this aspect? Did you double check your math? Did you think about this factor? Our rigorous internal review process helps mitigate errors and ultimately strengthens our insights.
With our international presence, we build trust in the right place, in the right location, to help address the global needs of our clients.
I've found that collaborating with my Exponent colleagues in different time zones, and different offices with different cultures, is a key part of this. We have offices in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. We understand the cultural and business norms. And when a client has multinational manufacturing, that international reach is an important strength we can provide.
You Decide Where Your Career Takes You
We have great resources for mentorship, but simultaneously a lot of flexibility and autonomy. That flexibility and independence is important as you progress in your career here. I still publish papers. I still speak at conferences.
At Exponent, you make your own decisions. You get to decide how and when you're going to do the work.
When I came to Exponent fresh out of grad school, I didn't know what I didn't know. I have learned so much about so many different industries. I would highly recommend anybody coming in to do the same and build your skills. You're going to learn so much, and you're going to realize that there are aspects of product development that you've never even considered. That it's an entire person's job to think about quality. It's about coming in, solving problems, and getting as much as you're giving.
The things that make Exponent unique are a combination of the difficulty of the questions that we're trying to answer, and the quality of the people that you have in your corner. And it's really the combination of those two factors that makes showing up every day meaningful.