About Me

Dressed for work

Debra Smith

My diary of what’s been happening and other fun things!

A quick introduction to who I am. Having studied Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College (London University) I initially worked for GEC Research in Leicester, the company who had sponsored me throughout my degree. At the time many people said that Research and Development had too narrow a focus and that Engineers generally should ensure that they got a commercial appreciation. Being young & always eager to please, I then changed track and got a job as a Consulting Engineer in the water industry negotiating contracts, going on site to carryout ‘site supervision’ and finally being seconded to Thames Water and visiting sites where telemetry was being setup to monitor the various equipment remotely.

I was always keen on different sports at school and being 6ft 1″ (1.85 m) was often a big advantage in sports like netball, basketball, volleyball but I also was very keen on table tennis, hockey & later football (at work). I continued to play netball for many years after leaving school in Peterborough & London where I was also encouraged to try my hand at basketball (I have to admit that my version of basketball was just modified netball and I was never really very good at dribbling!)

Next came my big career change when I joined the MoD and started my postgraduate qualification as a UK & European Patent Attorney, but my first 5 years were heavily focused towards contract negotiation both with UK industry & overseas governments. I qualified as a UK Patent Attorney whilst at at the MoD and then I changed jobs to start working at a global packaging company where my role was wholly focused on Intellectual Property (IP) and I qualified as a European patent attorney shortly after joining. A couple of years later I was promoted to head of the global in-house IP Department, where I started training both in-house juniors and new starters in the IP profession in Europe initially and later also in the UK.

Whilst my career was progressing very successfully, at about the time of the millennium I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and for about 8 years thereafter I took several Disease Modifying Drugs (DMDs), which slowed the progress of my illness with various levels of success. However, once I was running the in-house IP Department my work gradually became more and more stressful and that was not good for my health.

I was determined not to take medical retirement even after I had started to use a wheelchair, but I did take voluntary redundancy in about 2013 and then setup my own private company still doing the IP work that I enjoyed. Running my own company was a little stressful and unknown at first, but I gradually got into the swing of it and enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that working for myself gave me. I now have Secondary Progressive MS and use a wheelchair all the time when I am out, but that has not stopped me continuing to run my own IP company.

Now it is 2023 and I am determined to keep up a regular blog, after my complete failure in 2022!

First priority (PERSONAL): Keep up a regular account of what’s going on.

Second priority (WORK): I have progressed towards working with another overarching business so that I can get additional assistance and backup for work whilst retaining the flexibility that I have found so useful in my working life.

So here we are at the start of 2023. I hope you can join me on my journey and we can enjoy a bit of fun together along the way.