• Google Places - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle

CAROL BALFOUR

Design director & co-founder, Neucin Design Ltd

 

And - Former lecturer, Product Design, Glasgow Caledonian University

Ask questions and have an opinion. Not everybody is going to like you, but that's ok, be true to yourself.

What do you do?

I am a co-founder of a small, driven company which designs and develops medical device products primarily in inhalation, from initial concepts through to industrialised commercially available products. 

I take a multidisciplinary approach in the design, development and realisation of medical device products. Essentially, I am responsible for generating ideas from a sketch, a brief, client input etc. and from this develop a product that meets the clients/users’ needs and expectations, resulting in a commercialised product from a scale of tens to millions.

My job consists of problem solving, whether that be through the application of brainstorming, sketching, prototyping, device characterisation etc. to further developing the product making it more robust and suitable for market. 

Why did you choose this field?

When I was at school, I wanted to be an architect as I used to see all the models they made. I always loved drawing and in particular making things -  clothes, models, toys, cards. 

I enjoyed technical and more practical subjects, like technical drawing, craft and design and maths. I was the only girl in my technical drawing class, but that never worried me, I just saw it as a challenge and made sure I was better than the boys. Although I was a good student and got good results, I went through a period when my parents split which caused me to concentrate less on my studies and career goals. I ended up leaving school at 16, with very few qualifications.

In order to make money and help support my mother I took a job until I was 20. I always felt that I could do more and still loved drawing, art and making things, so an opportunity arose where I could still work part time, and go and study at college. I started off doing a national certificate in Product Design in Glasgow. 

 

I went on to do my degree in Integrated Product Design and never really looked back. I have worked for many different companies and roles and even spent time as a lecturer teaching Product Design back at my old university. I have designed everything from a rawlplugs, an incinerator for a Hawaiian air force base to endovascular implantable’s and inhalation devices. I have been lucky to work on a variety of products through a wide range of industries and it has given me the knowledge and experience to overcome any challenges I may face. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"I tend to apply myself in the moment and am forward looking."

I don’t think I would have preferred to do anything differently based on what I know now. I don’t regret leaving school early with no qualifications because the life experience I had before I went to study was invaluable to help me concentrate and made me aspire for more. 

I’ve enjoyed success and many achievements throughout my career, my lasting memory is when being in a DIY store and seeing one of the products I had designed and developed on the shelf for the first time which made all the hard work seem worth it.

Why do you love working in STEM?

"I'm at my happiest when I'm cutting up bits of paper and making models."

Every day is different, I am always solving problems, I can get to be practical and work with my hands, whether that be making models prototypes, or using 3D CAD Software to create and mock of my ideas.

 

I love to be able to create my ideas in software one day and the next day 3D print my designs and have quick, direct feedback. It's a process I really enjoy and feeds my passion for being hands on.

 

I still am not very good at English and don’t like writing reports, however I have to and you shouldn’t let this kind of thing deter you or discourage you.

Best advice for the next generation

You don’t have to be amazing at all subjects at school, you don’t have to go to university - you just need to have determination, drive and passion.

Don’t let people tell you can’t do it and never give up. It’s not about where you live or where you were educated it’s about you as an individual and believing in your own ability. 

Be strong and stick up for yourself, don’t be scared to make mistakes, you’ll learn and grow more from the mistakes you make.

Ask questions and have an opinion. Not everybody is going to like you, but that’s ok, be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid of more experienced people, learn from them and suck every bit of information out of them that you can! Don’t feel discouraged - there are only challenges to overcome."Don't worry about getting everything perfect straight away."

Role model 

My friend Adrian probably doesn’t know this, nor does his mum but I most admire his mother. She was from Glasgow and in the 1970’s immigrated to South Africa to become a Crane driver. That story fills me with such admiration and determination at how brave she was at that time, to give up her life in Glasgow and move across to become a Crane Driver.