OPI's Women in STEM
My role is to convert the Product Demands and Insights from the Market into Technical Specifications of the product and then to deliver such products with the highest safety standards and regulatory compliance. Apart from developing new, interesting products, designing experiments, setting up standards, and ensuring compliance to desired standards, it is great to work together with different teams within the company.
Something I really like about being a part of OPI R&D is the visibility to business and market while working on technical aspects of a product. The satisfaction of knowing where your product is going and the impact it has on people's lives - makes it a very fulfilling job.
As a kid, I was always interested in making things and seeing how they are made. A lot of credit goes to my parents who always encouraged creativity in everyday life. I had some amazing teachers in school who sparked interest in science and especially chemistry. I was fascinated by organic chemistry in high school and decided to pursue a career in chemistry and ultimately became a part of R&D.
One of the big reasons women are underrepresented in STEM is because of generations of stereotyping these fields as 'men's fields' as well as stereotypes around raising a girl child. To narrow the gender gap in STEM, girls should be exposed to STEM around them at a young age as well as encouraged to showcase their capability in this segment. This will boost their confidence, increase their interest in the field and help them break the stereotypes around being a girl. For young girls who are interested in pursuing STEM careers - follow your passion. Network. Find someone you admire in the field you are interested in and reach out to them. It could be a great asset in your journey.
I am responsible for leading the claim substantiation strategy. Truthful and substantiated advertising is required by law. I make sure that all claims are supported with robust instrumental/consumer data and strong scientific rationale - honest claims are what help us attract and retain a strong and loyal consumer base. I love being a liaison between the research division, multiple cross-functional teams at OPI, and the general public. The journey to transform numbers and charts into positive emotions and feelings is something that I truly enjoy.
Growing up, I always harbored a misconception that hard science and creative fields mix as well as oil and water. I was lucky to discover the cosmetic consumer products industry which allowed me to marry my interests. My background in material science engineering and love for fashion is equally responsible for where I am today. Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields because even in 2022 it can be considered swimming against the tide. There is a multitude of reasons for the same, some perceptive and some objective. Societies all over the world, regardless of "developed" or "developing" tend to have a gendered view of work. In our modern society, women are expected to build careers but the archaic notion of "household chores" and child-rearing is still considered their main responsibility. Conversely, men typically are not burdened with these dual roles and are expected to be providers and not much more. A woman's success and contribution to our modern society are judged based on her ability to excel at creating both material and social wealth. Being less than perfect at either is frowned upon and comes with public stigmatization. The fear of failure and subsequent condemnation drives women away from STEM fields.
Future women in STEM -don't be afraid to take the plunge. Science belongs to everyone regardless of sex, race, or class. Own your right to pursue your passion and do not fear failure or rejection. A long career begins with small steps, be enthusiastic about pursuing internships in the fields and industries of your choice.
OPI is the industry leader in the nail category through the development of ground-breaking innovations spearheaded by the OPI R&D team. As a Principal Analytical Chemist and a member of the instrumental measurements (IM) team, my responsibility is to support R&D in all their analytical testing needs. As the analytical program and capability leader, I anticipate the business needs and priorities which are met by partnering with analytical experts within the IM team and through the use of external testing laboratories. Moreover, as a measurement expert, I generate and execute the test plan for IMP projects. Another key initiative of my role is to extend our current capabilities by keeping a pulse on recent innovations within the industry and the scientific community in order to leverage these new developments to meet the current and future needs of the OPI team.
My role is unique and therefore having the accessibility to my customers by being fully integrated into the R&D team allows me to take part in the cultivation process of new innovative ideas. Further, having the ability to develop a mechanistic understanding of how our technology is working is pivotal in aligning ours in vivo and in vitro data.
One piece of advice I would give to girls who are interested in pursuing a STEM career is to always explore their curiosity and take advantage of every opportunity placed before them. Academic research is very important and therefore once introduced to new instrumentations and tools take the time to truly understand how these devices work as you will likely come across them again.
- My role is to contain our products in the best way possible. This includes upfront research and collaboration to find a package that fits the needs of the product/formula while also considering on-shelf presence, ease-of-use, cost and much more. In R&D Packaging, we have the opportunity to influence the consumer's experience from first impression in-store to use at home. My favorite part is the collaboration within the team. It is so much fun to work with a diverse group of scientists and have so many brains to power each project. I am always learning something new.
I have had an affinity for math and science for as long as I can remember. To me it's like solving a puzzle--putting the pieces together and coming out with a full picture at the end. I love to be hands on, creating and inventing. When I was in school, I was able to shadow a packaging engineer at a large company for one day and it was such an eye-opener to me. It affirmed my passion for the career I wanted to pursue. My favorite thing about R&D is that you get to make something from nothing, and there is no better feeling than seeing other people enjoy the product of your labor.
I think the gender gap can start early on in life—it's possible for young girls to feel alienated from activities and play patterns that may seem stereotypically “boy” oriented, and have more of a STEM influence. As mentors, teachers and parents we have the opportunity to nurture interests in those subjects where present. I do see such a different outlook in the upcoming generations-- it's really exciting. Representation in media, schools, and everyday life helps to show the possibilities. Within the industry, too, we can share resources, salary information, and opportunities to lift each other up. Find someone in the field you are interested in and don’t be afraid to reach out.
- My team focus on formula development for professional products. My role is to ensure the team is working towards the overall nail R&D strategy, support OPI product launches, build knowledge in the nail category for my team, and clear any roadblocks so that the team can work more efficiently together. As a chemist, I love working in the lab and working with data.
My favorite part is to be able to link the findings we have in the lab to something that matters to people. A small tweak of viscosity will make a nail pro's application much easier. A change in the mechanical property will make the color last longer on consumers. When we have that link, all of sudden, the data and the lab works become so much more powerful and meaningful to people's life.
My initial interest in science was sparked by my father. I was so amazed as a child to see him build a radio at home. I had doubts multiple times when I chose my major in college and when I came to the US to continue my study after college. There are many people along the way who encouraged me and assured me of the choices I made: my parents, my high school math teacher, my graduate college supervisor, etc. After I graduated, it was natural for me to choose R&D as my career because my initial inspiration in science is to make products - a radio.
To generate rich insights for innovation, stay close to nail pros and consumers, conduct VMD/store visits, and have focus groups. From the technology side, competitor product landscape, IP landscape, and monitoring, scientific papers, tech conferences will also spark a lot of innovative ideas. Big innovation usually happens when a technology breakthrough is able to address a key consumer's unmet need.
Time is abundant when you are young to try. By trying, you will know more about yourself, about your strength, about your true passion. Choose something you are passionate about. Focus on the path you choose and take small achievements as encouragement along the way. Try to get an internship if you are interested in R&D jobs. You can get a feeling about working in R&D and that will also help you build connections to the industry.
- I lead a team of scientists that work on our next Nail Lacquer, Nail treatments & Skincare innovations. Oh and don't forget our gorgeous color collections! My team works to understand how best to optimize the properties of the product to fit the consumer's needs.
Color! I love being a part of bringing the world of color to life. OPI is known for our captivating cult-worthy shades and I love that R&D plays a large part in making sure we deliver on high-quality shades.
My love for science can 100% be attributed to my amazingly passionate high school chemistry teacher. He brought science to life by always finding real-world connections. He also sparked my interest in R&D as he helped me obtain an internship in an R&D lab working on golf balls! I was in awe of the amount of science going into a product so many take for granted every day. We look everywhere. We talk to consumers, follow Instagram trends, research new ingredient technologies, attend tradeshows & conferences. You never know what will spark a new idea!
I think the gender gap can be narrowed by women scientists continuing to share their passions and experiences. We want girls everywhere to know that there is a great deal of science that goes into nail polish. #dreamjob We also need to show women and girls that scientists can look like many things. I know many strong smart scientists who could be mistaken for the latest influencer. #butyoudontlooklikeascientist
Network. Reach out to women in the industry and ask them about their experiences. I personally love connecting with the next generation of scientists and sharing what I've learned.
- R&D is at the intersection of what’s needed and what’s possible. Our job starts with research to uncover consumers’ unmet nail needs. We then develop new technologies that will deliver superior performance, novel effects, and on-trend shades. The claims and science stories we create help the consumer to understand the performance and efficacy of our products.
As the leader of the OPI R&D Organization, my role is to set the innovation strategy and establish a consistent pipeline of innovation. Another key aspect of my role is creating opportunities for the scientists on my team to grow their capabilities and develop deeper scientific expertise.
I love the rush that comes from creating something original that surprises and delights our users. Once you understand their needs, you can start looking for solutions. That’s where the fun kicks in! It’s a race against the competition to get there first, in the most novel way, that also brings the highest value to the consumer. Our work is never done. We are constantly thinking about the next technical challenge, and how we can push ourselves further. It’s exhilarating!
I have a natural curiosity to understand what makes things work and why, which is what has always drawn me to science. I was planning to go into the pharmaceutical industry, but I had the opportunity for an internship in color cosmetics between my junior and senior year of college. I absolutely fell in love with the industry, and the unique opportunity to combine artistic expression, consumer trends, and science.
When you are a scientist and passionate about your field, inspiration for innovation is everywhere! We are well connected with our raw material suppliers, and we keep a pulse of how technologies are emerging in the industry through scientific conferences, papers, and patent reviews. We also have many beauty enthusiasts and avid users on the team who are constantly searching social media, visiting salons, and trying out new products (myself very much included in this group!).
I am thrilled to see so much emphasis placed on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement. When building my OPI R&D organization, having a balance of different cultures, genders, and scientific expertise was really important to me, because different perspectives and experiences foster innovation.
The great thing about the cosmetic industry is that women in science actually have a natural advantage since they are also consumers. Knowing how a product is used, where the frustrations and shortcomings are, and what aspects are most important to the user is critical information for formulators developing new products.