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TAPPI Young Professional Member Spotlight: Sarah Garchinsky

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TAPPI Young Professional Member Spotlight: Sarah Garchinsky

1. What is your current role? Company?
I’m currently in the research and development segment of the industry, working for the specialty chemical supplier Solenis located in Wilmington, Delaware. I work as a research scientist in a laboratory focusing on contaminant control technology. Contaminant control (CC) focuses on controlling surface active materials on the paper machine, such as pitch and stickies.

2. What are your job responsibilities?
I work in the contaminant control division at Solenis, and have worked on product development, product reformulation, business support, and monitoring equipment technology.

3. What led you to where you are now? 
I was hired out of college (Millersville University, Lancaster PA BS Chemistry) by Solenis in 2012, making Spring 2018 my 6-year tenure with Solenis. I was hired as a chemical technician, supporting a PhD Scientist. I have progressed to an individual contributor where I now lead my own projects.  

4. What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
Currently, I am most proud that I have decided to continue my education by pursing my Master’s degree from North Carolina State University in Paper Science and Engineering, while working full time and growing my family. 

5. What is it like being a young professional in this field?
I really like being able to help influence the culture within my organization (better work life balance, accommodating a changing workforce).

6. Who is your mentor? What’s a lesson they’ve taught you that you’d want to pass on to others?
We have a family friend who I have always thought of as a mentor. At a young age, she instilled in me how important it is to always be able to provide for yourself. She taught me that no matter how happily married you are, you should always drive yourself to be able to independently support yourself no matter what. Never feel like you have to depend on someone else. I think this is a great message for not only women, but everyone. My husband and I both live by this philosophy. I know this might not be possible for everyone depending on the situation, but I find this as my driver to keep myself from becoming complacent in my career and working to always strive for more (this philosophy is one of the main reasons that drove me to continue my education).

7. What are your career aspirations?
I try to avoid being super specific here because things always change, but some of my goals are 1.) Experience different parts of the industry (not just stay in the same job function forever) 2.) Learn how to manage people and become a leader 3.) I would like to eventually publish a book or resource article where I talk about challenges of young women in science and how I handled them and use the profits to set up a scholarship fund for women in STEM.

8. What motivates you at work?
Right now, I am pregnant so food. HA HA! But really, I love being given an objective and then the independence to pursue under little supervision, this is how I work best. 

9. If you could give advice to other young professionals in our industry, what would it be?
Ask questions and ask for help. Many times, I was out in the field working on trials and instead of sitting around just watching the trial run, I asked questions and learned more about the process (people are always willing to share what they do and show you around). 

10. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Exercise, play with my dog, travel, and Philadelphia sports!

11. Can you talk a little bit about your role with the Young Professionals Division and what you’re hoping to accomplish this year? 
I’m currently the Young Professionals Division’s Director of Division Relations. My main focus this year is to work on bridging the gap between the young professionals’ network and the technical divisions of TAPPI. I am trying to accomplish this by establishing liaison positions a young professional that communicates back and forth between their assigned division and the YP’s. These liaisons will also serve as a point of contact for YP’s interested in joining that specific technical division.

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