EPP Quarterly Newsletter Issue 2: A focus on talent
Nurturing talent is the theme of our two leading articles in this issue, outlining the continued progress we are making developing talent across the business with Rosalind Stuart, Head of Human Resource, Education and Training describing the benefits of a strategic approach to HR. We have considered the impact of BREXIT and James Stuart, Managing Director, explores these more fully. And finally, bringing your attention to the news that the European Food Safety Agency has identified three relevant impurities: please get in touch if you are working with Mesotrione and we can guide you as our article explains.
Talent and skills – bringing professionalism to life
Hand in hand with our ongoing phase of expansion at EPP comes a focus on identifying and developing talent to maximise existing skills and strengthen the team. This takes many forms from developing closer links with the Royal Society of Chemistry to establishing a new Development Team in the business. The collective aim being to bring a truly strategic approach to life in our working practices, culture and values.
Access to external expertise is a vital component of our skills development strategy and a key contributor is the Royal Society of Chemistry, with whom we are continually strengthening our relationship. Abbie Smith, the successful candidate for a one-year undergraduate industrial placement sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, has now joined EPP and expands our Analytical Chemistry team.
The recent launch of our Development Team demonstrates the commitment we have to nurture talent and to allow those who are in our business with an entrepreneurial mindset to have a means to explore their ideas more fully. It is, as they say, a win-win moving our business forward and allow them a chance to flourish.
2016 has seen the introduction of in-house leadership training for all our Study Directors, the objective being to develop well-rounded individuals who are not only technically excellent but with influence and authority to handle projects and teams in a professional manner. This commitment to their development strengthens their commitment to the business, resulting in increased loyalty and a better experience for clients.
Strategically we have developed a new business development role having identified client relationships as a vital reason for clients’ repeatedly working with EPP year after year. Sarah Farr, currently an Analytical Chemist at EPP is transitioning into this role to become full time in October. Her scientific background ensures Sarah has the knowledge and insight to understand what is important to clients and critical projects. Sarah attended Chemistry Means Business last month as a first step and will be hosting our exhibition stand at Specialty & Agro Chemicals America 2016 in September in Charleston, USA and at CPhI Worldwide in October in Barcelona, Spain.
Driving our commitment to talent
For a company of our size it is unusual to have a dedicated Head of Human Resource, Education and Training. It is this particular emphasis that has driven the recruitment, expansion and focus on talent development over the last year. Rosalind Stuart has been in this post for almost a year and reflects on the significant benefits, both short and long term, that have been gained:
“EPP has been through a significant period of change and growth over the last year; our turnover has increased by nearly 50% and our staff body has increased by the same margin. For an SME this sort of growth pattern can often make or break a company. In those companies which break the fault lines are often found in poorly resourced HR practices, badly planned staff training, the neglect of staff retention policies and an introspective approach overall. At EPP our working practices, culture and values sit at the heart of everything we do. In the context of HR, Education and Training we have considered this very carefully to ensure we deliver and support motivated and well trained staff. Ultimately it is this flourishing talent which will attain EPP’s long term aims.”
“Whilst the benefits of good quality staff training are often rather obvious it can be more difficult to identify the benefits of well-planned and resourced HR processes. I consider this element to be absolutely fundamental to the success of SME’s going through a period of growth. The work over the last 12 months has been split fairly evenly between the fundamentals of implementing HR practice and developing structures to ensure quality in the future.”
“For many SME’s the understanding and enactment of HR polices and employment law is a serious cause of stress for both the employer and employee. We have moved to harmonised contractual terms for all staff members and are working to achieve the same with staff job descriptions. Our employee handbook has been rewritten, we have restructured our pay and leave conditions, rolled out new timesheets and working practices and implemented a new benefits scheme. All of which allows us to look to the future in a truly strategic way, applying a ‘little and often’ approach to the maintenance and continuous review of our systems and practices, with the firm assurance that our policies and practices are providing staff with a fair and transparent deal which allows them to progress.”
“Review and discussion is crucial to ensuring that quality is maintained. To encourage continual progression we have established a staff consultation group to identify and solve issues effecting the staff body and seek ideas for improvement. Review of our staff appraisal process has allowed for a broader process focused on staff development. Plans are in progress to apply a similar approach to the quality of our training and development; notably we are seeking full accreditation with the Royal Society of Chemistry to further develop the careers of our bench chemists. Careful monitoring will ensure this groundwork is built upon and our staff feel truly valued.”
“There are innumerable schemes and opportunities available for businesses of our size to help with recruitment and staff development. EPP has embraced many of these in the last 12 months and they have all been really formative for us as a business. We are Living Wage employers and operate a flexible working policy. Such policies and practices require consideration around their implementation in the first instance but they have allowed us a great deal of flexibility and freedom ever since. I would implore all SME’s to consider carefully the resource deployed in this crucial area of work. Done well, good HR is a key plank in the launch platform for a thriving SME.”
British exit from European Union (BREXIT)
As the dust begins to settle on the UK referendum on European Union (EU) membership James Stuart, Managing Director of EPP Ltd shares some thoughts on the implications of a British exit from the EU.
“The first point to make is that, for the time being, nothing has changed and all of the systems of the UK and the EU continue to function as usual. That will be the case for at least another two years.”
“That will remain to be the case at the macro level for the entire period of informal negotiation prior to triggering the departure and the formal negotiations afterwards. The environment around each of the systems and relationships will however gradually change to account for the new paradigm. In practical terms that means investment, market confidence, interest rates and a long list of other elements surrounding the system will change as the shape of the new relationships becomes clear.”
“In the short term the most notable effect will be on Sterling and it is likely that it, and to a lesser extent, the Euro will weaken and fall against other currencies especially the traditional refuges for investors including the US dollar. This has no downside for EPP as our supply chains are short and mostly in the UK and our clients are overwhelmingly international. Indeed for most of our clients it will make our services less expensive.”
“The other point worth drawing attention to is the nature of OECD GLP and the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) arrangements that form the standards behind our GLP activity. Both of these are independent of the EU but have been adopted by the EU to underpin the quality and validity of data generated in the testing of chemicals. Or put another way, the UK leaving the EU does not undermine the UK’s adherence to and participation in OECD and MAD agreements.”
“My final point is that EPP has successfully operated in support of heavily regulated activity for more than two decades and we have deliberately developed our business to be dynamic and responsive to these changes; indeed there are changes to this environment almost monthly. Whilst the possible changes that could result from Brexit may be bigger in scale and will certainly be covered to a much greater extent in the newspapers they are in essence no different to the changes we have routinely adapted to over all these years. In fact we are quicker to adapt than most and so feel very confident that we’ll be able to make the most of this bold new Europe.”
European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) identify new Relevant Impurity in Mesotrione
A recent report published in March of this year by the European Food Safety Agency has identified three relevant impurities: 1,2-dichloroethane that is classified inter alia as Carc 1B (harmonised classification according to CLP Regulation ), R287431 and R287432. The third of these impurities has, to date, not been identified as relevant and therefore not included as part of 5 Batch Analysis studies.The recently identified additional relevant impurity – EPP’s team can provide a certified reference standard.
In light of this study analysis of Mesotrione will need to account for this additional relevant impurity as part of any regulatory submission.
What it means to you
If you are in the process of working with Mesotrione you will need to consider the implications of this published relevant impurity you may need to conduct additional analysis and are likely to need an impurity reference standard. If you think you do need support get in touch with us and speak to an expert. Here at EPP we have extensive experience of Mesotrione and can provide guidance on the analysis necessary and have an excellent synthesis team who can provide certified reference standards of all of the Mesotrione impurities including R287432.