Bar Manager, Radio DJ; Electronics Design Engineer, Project Manager, Business Developing Manager, Founder & MD.
Managing Director and tea boy.
Oxford Space Systems
‘Managing Director (and office assistant!). Although I’m “the boss” in a start-up everyone pulls together and mucks in, so I’m treated pretty much equally by everyone else. I certainly don’t have my own office!
As the founder of a technology business, it’s unusual to have the luxury of being able to concentrate on a single task or area of the business for more than half an hour in a typical day. I need to be able to switch between a diverse range of tasks really quickly and be ‘in the zone’ with whoever I’m talking to on a particular subject. This can range from a detailed discussion on a printed circuit board layout with one of my electronics engineers (my Degree is in Electronics) in one moment to answering a call on my mobile from the British Embassy in Japan needing an immediate quote for a press release.
I generally describe my job as being the glue between the various elements in the business. There’s a lot that needs to be place to ensure we’re on course to grow and develop against our business plan.
One of the elements I particularly enjoy is the ‘front of shop’ activity: meeting with customers and collaborators to explore ideas and the art of the possible. I enjoy presenting and getting people exciting about the novel technologies we’re developing at Oxford Space Systems.
I also enjoy outreach activities with local schools and colleges. We recently completed a great project with Didcot Sixth Form project that one the school team a prize . You can read about this here: http://tinyurl.com/pepyj9y
I’m also particularity proud of the great team we’re building – the dynamic and interaction between a young and very smart technology based team is electric and really motivating. Throw in the diverse mix of the team: Indian, Mexican, Polish, Greek, Japanese, French and British and you’ve got some really interesting viewpoints. Makes going for a meal together after work a bot of challenge sometimes!
My Typical Day
Often controlled chaos with a veneer of a professional & friendly calm to the outside world…
It’s hard to define a typical day as I’m often pulled in multiple directions. To give a flavour of the many things a founder & Managing Director gets called on to do, here’s some of the activities I’ve got up to the last month:
Been to Tokyo and California on UK Space Trade missions to profile the exciting technology we’re developing
Taken part in detailed technical design reviews with the European Space Agency and a lead customer
Proposed a technical solution to an internal problem on one of designs
Interviewed a potential employee
Negotiated the technical & commercial details of a contract with Kazakhstan
Presented to a number of potential ‘Dragon’ investors and venture capitalists
Presented to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London
Coached a session at an Engineering YES event
What I'd do with the money
Donate to Engineering YES
I’m a keen supporter of Engineering YES, a residential training experience for research & engineering students that introduces the vital elements of business and entrepreneurial thinking. In the UK, we’re great at coming up with world-beating ideas & technologies but often fail to reap the rewards. Engineering YES introduces the vital component needed for the success to a killer technology – critical business thinking.
I really enjoy working with smart and enthusiastic students to shape their ideas to be more commercial viable and attractive. This gives them increased confidence and puts them in a much better position to see the rewards for their ideas. To help shape the thinking of a possible future successful entrepreneur gives me a real buzz. Ultimately, we need to develop new & exciting companies in the UK to create employment & value for the UK. I think Engineering YES and the time donated freely by all involved for the benefit of students is a really valuable part of this process.
Engineering YES relies on donations and this year the number of events that could be organised was reduced due to lack of funds.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and open-minded (is that four?)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Currently listening to a lot of ‘old school’ rock when driving – AC/DC at the moment. Ambient Trance (via YouTube) when working
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I can’t reveal that as its too rude! But whitewater rafting in the Nappa Valley, California was a brilliant few days of scary fun.
What did you want to be after you left school?
A radio DJ (and was for a while)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, repeatedly. Often for bunking of sports and PE.
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Winning the Green Entrepreneur of the Year Award for India in 2009.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Radio DJ – or way more unpopular – a politician!
Tell us a joke.
Two antennas got married. The wedding was terrible but the reception was fantastic.
A quick shot across the office from my camera phone:
At the British Ambassador’s House in Tokyo (he’s 3rd from left in the front row, I’m 4th from left in the back row). Note the OSS boom in the background!:
Dr. Juan Revels, OSS Technical Director (left) and Vincent Fraux, OSS Lead Mechanical Design Engineer looking very tired after a long night of vibration testing of a boom system to simulate the shaking our technology will experience from a rocket on its way into orbit: