Dr John Chidlow

BSc Chemistry, 1965; PhD Chemistry 1969
Director, Science Compliance Ltd

A fortunate opportunity for early retirement (aged 60) gave me the chance to set up my own company and explore working in those areas which most attracted me. Science Compliance Ltd is a contract service provider company which I set up and own in order to provide Technical Writing and Quality Systems Auditing services to Pharmaceutical and In-Vitro Diagnostic Systems companies.

This role provides me with opportunity to pass on my knowledge and experience gained in more than 50 years working at most levels of my client companies, and is for me a vehicle to re-pay all the support, care, training and knowledge I have been fortunate to receive in my professional life - including very much so the teaching I received at Birmingham University and at my school, Wellington Grammar School in Shropshire.

How has your career developed over the years?

Immediately after PhD graduation I obtained a two year Research Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada, then a three year Fellowship at Bristol University School of Veterinary Medicine. The team I worked in developed a vaccine against enteric disease in pigs and cattle which was bought by Unilever Research. I was then invited to join their Technology Transfer team at their Animal Health Laboratory. Ten years’ experience gained there led to my recruitment into Serono Pharma, next to Ciba-Geigy Switzerland, and later Parexcel Contracting and BTG plc. 

John Chidlow

What motivates you?

My motivations are my family (care and feeding of!), challenge, achievement, intellectual interest, success, money, security, health, happiness, love, friendship, personal fulfilment. Not necessarily in That Order – except the first item of course!

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

Because the Birmingham School of Chemistry is the best in the World. It was then and still is so today, and Professor Stacey was an international star of chemistry research and training! Also at that time (1962) Birmingham was a major centre of Manufacturing industry, including chemicals and metals.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

Friends, lab work, teaching excellence, the Student Union bar, etc. I also met my wife there and together we birthed and raised three fab children, who between them have given us seven grandchildren!

Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?

Plenty! Wayfarers walking and mountaineering club, rugby, the Guild Theatre Group, Chemistry Department Carnival Club - I was Chairman the year we won the Float competition with float titled 'A Kitchen Sink Drama'; our slogan/chant was ‘Filth is eternal, you cannot conquer dirt’!

We Are (Third Width)

How did your time at University help you start your career?

At Uni I learned how to work hard and also play hard, that is to enjoy my life both at work and at leisure. In this respect it was the dedication and commitment of the teaching staff which provided example and inspiration. Also the dedication, hard work and commitment of my fellow students was an inspiration. I learned to enjoy my successes and to learn from my 'challenges', although not knowing it at the time I learned to follow Churchill's motto ‘Never give up, Never give up, Never give up!’

What advice would you give to current students?

As I did: work hard and also play hard, that is enjoy your life both at work and at leisure. Learn from your teachers and from your fellow students. Enjoy your successes and learn from your 'challenges'. Make friends. ‘Never give up, Never give up, Never give up!’. And always remember ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch’.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes, a quotation from a US country music folk song superficially about poker: ‘you got to know when to hold, know when to fold, know when to walk away - and when to run!’