What do You Currently Do?
I am CEO of BioCity based in Nottingham’s Creative Quarter. I have an extremely varied job leading a team of very talented and highly motivated people who create and develop new life science companies, provide them with investment and then provide these growing businesses with the laboratories and other services they need in an overall environment that maximises their chances of success. The Creative Quarter has been a fantastic place to make this happen and we now also have sites in Cheshire and Scotland.
What is your inspiration in business?
I am driven by the desire to create and build things and to make them better. At BioCity we want to be the very best in the world at doing what we do. There is an immense satisfaction from sitting down with an entrepreneur and talking through his or her idea and then seeing them set up at BioCity and grow into a successful business. Equally, I am constantly inspired by the dedication and commitment of the BioCity team across the UK. It has been fantastic to see the company grow to the point where we now employ over 50 people, and within that to see the people in the business grow and take on new challenges and responsibility.
Who Do You Admire?
I admire anyone who has had the guts to step into the unknown to try and build a new business and then, with blood, sweat and tears manages to achieve success. We have an awful lot of those people based at BioCity and I admire all of them.
Looking Back, Would You Have Done Things Differently?
Having great people in the business is the most important thing. You have to get the right person with the right skills and cultural fit in the right role- if any of those things aren’t there you have a recipe for trouble. Where I’ve made mistakes in the past is in not listening to my instincts when recruiting, knowing deep down that the person isn’t right but convincing myself it would be OK. Invariably I have lived to regret that decision and we have had to go through the painful process of moving the individual on. When you do realise you’ve got it wrong you have to move quickly, otherwise there is a knock on effect on others in the business. Everyone is prone to making recruitment mistakes but I think a lot of organisations don’t bite the bullet and rectify the problem.
What Defines Your Way of Doing Business?
I have a clear vision of where BioCity is going and a plan of how to get there. I really appreciate having a strong executive team and I think we all work well together in a collegiate fashion. I operate with an odd combination of instinctiveness and analysis: ideas and opportunities are seized or rejected in a first pass triage because of an instinctive feeling, however once triaged I like to understand exactly what the implications are both financially and operationally before making a final decision. I have no time for proposals that are presented by the team without any clear analysis and support for assumptions being made.
I think success in negotiation comes from understanding where the person you are negotiating with is coming from and trying to give them what they need without losing the essence of what you need. For a lot of people in business it comes down to ego, which never gets the best results.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something and to ask for advice. The most successful entrepreneurs at BioCity are those who speak to people and are humble – the ones who feel they have to pretend they know it all inevitably fair less well.