Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals that are active in SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40. For our next FLiP File, we spoke to Ghislaine (Gigi) Bailey, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, Product Regulations at NOVA Chemicals Corporation
-Where do you work and what’s your title?
I work at NOVA Chemicals as a member of our product integrity regulatory compliance team.
-Tell us a little about what your company does.
NOVA Chemicals is a multibillion-dollar company that produces plastics and chemicals, including resins for food packaging, automotive applications, caps and closures and many other everyday items.
-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?
It was a chance encounter at a party. I am an organic chemist and studied polymers for my doctoral thesis. When my husband and I moved to Calgary in Alberta, Canada I knew virtually no one but met someone at a party who introduced me to NOVA Chemicals. I’ve had roles in R&D, product development and new business development, all of which led to my current role in product integrity.
-Has anyone in the industry mentored you?
I have been very fortunate to have some key people help and mentor me, both unofficially and officially. Their advice and guidance has helped me to understand the industry and how NOVA Chemicals, the business, is run, which in turn has impacted how I approached my career at NOVA Chemicals.
-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.
On a typical day I work on a broad range of tasks: respond to customer regulatory requests, track imports, monitor and respond to developing global regulations and provide our R&D teams with regulatory support for the latest technology or products they have developed.
-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?
That it is both flexible and multi-layered.
What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?
I have a much greater appreciation for the broad and varied uses of plastics, and how integral they are to our quality of life.
-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?
I am fortunate to live in a very “green” city, which means that I am often educating those around me on the value of plastics. The ramifications of abandoning plastics have generally not been carefully thought out, nor have the alternatives, which are not necessarily “greener.” The plastics industry needs to educate the general population on how environmentally friendly plastics can be and stress responsible end-of-life disposal. We hear a lot of news about the negatives of plastics and not enough about the positive impacts that plastics have on our lives, such as food preservation, food transportation, promoting good hygiene, etc. The plastics industry needs to highlight all the great and positive aspects of plastics.
-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?
A career in plastics is an excellent choice. I would take that even further and encourage people to consider a career in regulatory compliance for the plastics industry. Without regulatory approval, plastic products cannot be sold. Given the speed at which governments are adopting and updating laws pertaining to transportation, manufacture, importation, exportation, food contact, etc., regulatory expertise within plastics companies is essential. In addition, there is always something new to learn, and just like the products we cover, this career is extremely flexible. It is satisfying to know that we are doing our part to keep plastics safe and contributing to an improved quality of life for those around us.
-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?
Plastic wrap and freezer bags. With two young kids, I don’t know how I would function without them.