How did you get your job at the Intellectual Property Office?
A marvelous act of serendipity. I was post-docing in Canada at the time and preparing to move back to the U.K. – I randomly ended up on the Io’s Twitter® feed and they were advertising for people with chemistry backgrounds. I applied through Civil Service Jobs in the normal way. I was able to attend my interview in person, but the office is happy to arrange interviews over Skype® for people that are living abroad, so don’t let your geographical location put you off applying.
What is your weekly schedule generally like?
Unpredictable. You can schedule a quiet morning (no meetings, no technical training, no project work) to get some casework done and then out of the blue you might get a phone call from an attorney who wants to ask a question about office practice or discuss your examination report on a case that is approaching its compliance date. Complex issues can take most of the day to resolve and before you know it you have to re-prioritise tomorrow’s workload. Managing your work flow can be stressful, especially when unexpected issues arise during a prosecution, but I have a supportive line manager and the collegiate nature of the office means that there is always someone around to ask for help or bounce ideas off (patent examiners are never short of an opinion).
What’s it like working at the Intellectual Property Office?
Brilliant. Patent examining requires attention to detail for prolonged periods, so small changes in your environment make a big difference to your job satisfaction. We have a wellbeing suite with a full-sized snooker table, pool table, dart board, PS4®, Xbox One® etc to help us make the most of our downtime. The office also has a private entrance to Tredegar House (a National Trust managed property with vast gardens), so if you are finding a case particularly torturous you can go and stretch your legs in a green space.
We also frequently get visits from high-profile business leaders. Joe Fairley for example (the co-founder of Green and Blacks®) came to give a talk recently about the importance of IP and everyone got a free bar of chocolate!
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to work at the Intellectual Property Office
You need a sturdy mug (you will get through a lot of hot drinks) and an open mind.