Rachael Matthews graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a doctoral degree in chemistry, which she considers her greatest achievement. She started in technical services at Morristown, Tenn.-based color and additive concentrate supplier Colortech Inc. for a year and a half before moving into a sales role.
"As a recent Ph.D. graduate from Case Western Reserve University, I was immediately drawn to [the] industry because I realized plastics will always be essential. I had an interest in product development and learning the components that make up a product," she said. "Colortech is a company that values its employee growth and development, which is why I joined a strong team that innovates enduring solutions for customer problems."
As a sales representative for Colortech, Matthews grows relationships with customers and makes sure their voices are heard: "My goal is to reach sales targets each month and contribute to risk mitigation through prospecting customers."
When she was on the technical side, Matthews was the "go-to person" for all things post-consumer recycled materials, "and I still get questions even though I have moved into sales." She also wrote sustainability blog posts for the website to educate Colortech's audience.
Matthews volunteers for her alma mater, Morgan State University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry.
"I have contributed to recording videos of my statement in support the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program for continued NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding. I was on a panel for a Women's History Month event to discuss my perspective on the challenges I faced as a minority and a woman in science," she said. "Also, I recorded a video session for their Resilient Scientist video series, which is an NIH-funded project to support the resilience of college students of color in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."
In the future, Matthews sees herself following a career path toward sustainability in plastics and "would like to help be part of the solution to the current issues plastics is facing today."
"I am just a person like everyone else paving my own path. I know women have come before me and have had many struggles, and if it was not for them, my journey may have not been so easy. I am still inventing myself. So far, I have stepped out of the world of research and into industry and then moved into sales. Most people ask why and is it a waste of my degree, but I have always wanted to explore the commercial side of business and expand my skill set."