Happy days! We have added to our number at The Fusion Works and are delighted to welcome Dr Philippa Muston to the team. Philippa is a web developer with more teenage goth credentials that we could have ever wished for. But as we soon discovered, there’s more to her than meets the eye.

If you have read our earlier blog posts, you’ll see that we have hinted a few times about how busy we are, and how we needed to find interesting, talented people to join us. We didn’t want to make the mistake of recruiting in precisely our own image (have you met our directors?) but we did want someone would be hardworking, creative, imaginative, methodical, thorough, interesting and bringing new solutions to the table.

It’s hardly an easy list of qualities to find in candidates through a typical recruitment exercise, is it?

So David did what any self respecting director does when they have a challenging problem to solve. He went to the bakery and pretty much bought one of everything*.

This is the sort of behaviour that gets the attention of bakery staff. You don’t get much chit chat when asking for a single donut. But if you are getting into cream cake and multiple bag territory, anything could happen.

Like discovering that you are being served by a genetic scientist who is looking for a career change as a web developer.

But before we examine David’s recruitment strategy, let’s just consider Philippa’s choice of stop gap employment. It turns out that a bakery is a comforting place to be for a scientist. You don’t believe me? Here’s the evidence:

Best things about genetic lab work*:

the satisfying viscosity of 50% PEG solution

the smell of vanillin

having your mutant yeast strains thrive despite having some very messed up chromosomes.


Perfect consistencies + vanilla + yeast = bakery. I rest my case. Added to that, Philippa looks pretty wistful when musing on memories of fresh cream éclairs and “super-boozy” brandy mince pies.

But, of course, she couldn’t stay:

My company did have an annoying tendency of discontinuing my favourite sandwich fillings…my heart still weeps for the chicken Caesar or salmon ones we used to do.

Well, you don’t need to have a degree from the University of Sheffield and a PhD from the University of Nottingham to see her point, do you?**

So – back to David’s recruitment strategy: talk to everyone and listen to what they say.

Before the next customer had ordered a white bloomer (with poppy seeds, and sliced please) David had discovered that Philippa had found more satisfaction in putting her programming skills to work on data mining and data analysis for genetic sequencing projects, than managing the repetitive aspects of lab work.

Or as Philippa describes it,

We got talking about coding as I was cramming perl to try and land a position as a bioinformatician (which didn’t happen) – happily things turned out even better!

Can you imagine how chuffed David is to have discover a candidate who comes from outside of the traditional web developer world, has worked with legacy databases, who is super intelligent, keen to learn and has an interest in visual design, coding and programming?***

*the world according to Dr Philippa Muston.

**but it helps.

***very.  He’s being a bit braggy about it, but dammit, he’s right.