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Diogo Baltazar is Course Leader for MSc Cosmetic Science. Before moving to London to lecture at LCF, he studied a MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Lisbon, where he’s from. In this interview he tells us about his passion for lecturing and reveals what makes the course so especial and unique.
Even though Diogo’s initial plan was to work as a clinical pharmacist at the hospital, the opportunity to work in a big project for a cosmetic startup changed his path: “I had to develop from scratch a new line of cosmetic products to be sold in pharmacies and retailers. It was a new company with a completely new brand, and I had a lot of freedom to invent whole new formulations. I was involved in all the different stages of the process: from testing in humans to elaborating the product information files to comply with legal requirements, and I even supervised the first production batches,” tells Diogo.
Despite being a very challenging, time-consuming experience, this opportunity led him to start his expertise in the field of cosmetic science, where he could also put into practice the knowledge acquired during his MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences: “For a pharmacist, cosmetics make things much more fun, because drugs have very strict regulations and cosmetics is a bit different: they are also regulated but there’s more freedom, and there’s also a lot of creativity involved. I’ve always been quite creative, so it’s like cosmetics and I found each other. This is where I can be a technologist but also creative.”
"I’ve always been quite creative, so it’s like cosmetics and I found each other. This is where I can be a technologist but also creative.”
After a few years working independently as a researcher and consultant for different companies in Portugal, his chance to become a lecturer at LCF finally arrived. “I was really lucky”, he mentions, “I never thought I would move away from Portugal, and the only reason why I would do it was to do something that I really wanted to do, and you know what they say… be careful what you wish for because that’s exactly what happened!”
Even though he misses his native city -especially the lifestyle, the culture and the sun-, Diogo feels like being a lecturer at LCF is a lifetime project: “This job is what keeps me here. I started as a lecturer and now I’m a course leader. I love working at this university because it allows me to grow continuously, and I love how this role can be so diverse: when the students are in, I’m teaching; when the students are out, I dedicate more time to do admin or a bit of research.”
From lecturer to course leader
Diogo affirms that going from lecturer to course leader was a very important step for him, and despite the new challenges that came with the new role, he believes that having more responsibility allows him to make this course “even better”. As a lecturer, he uses his expertise in formulations science, teaching students how to make cosmetic products; he confesses to be very incisive about not only the technological aspect, but also the quality aspect: “That’s when I put my pharmacist hat on, because quality is very important.” He also believes that his main strength as a lecturer is the passion that he puts into his sessions: “Thanks to the feedback that I receive every year, I’ve learned that students realise how passionate I am about what I teach. The other thing students really appreciate is how I give them freedom (not in year one, sorry!) to create, to be creative.”
“Thanks to the feedback that I receive every year, I’ve learned that students realise how passionate I am about what I teach."
So, apart from creativity and passion, what else can students expect from his sessions? “Lots of practical work using many different types of products and materials. They can expect a lecturer that is honest, very passionate about what he does, who enjoys challenges and who really likes to tag alongside students. I try to be part of the team and guiding them in their learning.”
According to Diogo, what makes this MSc so unique is the fact that it prepares students very well for the industry, and even the companies who receive students for their placement year acknowledge this: “They always say that having a cosmetic scientist is really positive because they bring a different perspective and also, because our students are exposed to a more creative environment, it makes them have a holistic way of thinking about a product and its process. These inputs are really welcomed by the industry because it's a perspective that the industry is still lacking, which is why all our students end up being employed.”
The fact that this course is taught at Fashion college is a very positive element for Diogo: “That’s one of the reasons why this course will always be the best option in cosmetic science, because we are scientists, pharmacists, chemists and physiologists who love science, but we also have this creativity which we know it’s important in the industry, and this university allows us to do that. If we were in a science focused university perhaps it would be a bit stricter, but here we have the freedom to be creative scientists, which is great! This is what the cosmetic industry really needs.”
"If we were in a science focused university perhaps it would be a bit stricter, but here we have the freedom to be creative scientists, which is great! This is what the cosmetic industry really needs.”