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Following 20 years of management expertise at businesses including Sigma-Aldrich and Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dr Michael Edwards became president of Ocean Insight in July. Here he shares his thoughts on topics from embracing the company mission to understanding customer needs.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on Michael Edwards, view the press announcement of his hiring.
Q: After many years of success with science and technology businesses, you joined Ocean Insight. What is it about the opportunity that appealed to you?
ME: I came to Ocean primarily because of the vision that Halma [parent company of Ocean Insight] has. Halma’s vision is to make the world safer, cleaner and healthier for everyone. And that really speaks to me. It sounds altruistic, but if you think about the impact that a mission and vision like that have, it’s very powerful for sure.
Q: In fact, in just a few months at Ocean, you’ve already seen examples of “safer, cleaner, healthier” with some customers.
ME: The customers that we serve across multiple segments. We have customers that are in the healthcare environment. We have customers that are in the safety and security segment. We have customers that are in recycling, for instance. And so, when you think about the vision of safer, cleaner and healthier, Ocean plays in all those segments with the products that we offer. I think we’re firmly embedded in making society better for people — making it safer, making it cleaner, and making it healthier.
Q: Aside from your academic background in chemical engineering and corporate experience at leading companies, what should people know about Michael Edwards?
ME: I have an inherent passion for math and for science, and for business and leadership as well. And for me, I think of passion as being an innate, internal quality that drives you. It drives your thinking, it drives your being, it drives your actions, it drives your morals. If you feel that passion for something, it is the thing that grounds you and it drives you. And so, for me, particularly as a child, math was that for me. I was driven by solving mathematical problems. It’s a good fit [here] because Ocean Insight solves customer problems and we’re using elements of math and science and physics to do so.
Q: With Covid-19 and other circumstances, the last year has been very difficult for many. What have those challenges meant for businesses and their customers?
ME: These are uncharted waters that we’re in. We’ve never been, at least in my lifetime, in a global pandemic. So, we’re all learning how to do this for the first time. I think what customers are looking for from suppliers at this point is a couple of things: one, they’re looking for stability. They want to know that our manufacturing is stable, particularly if we’re going to be supplying them. And I think they’re looking for flexibility.
Q: Why should customers choose Ocean Insight as their supplier?
ME: One, we’re very good at what we do. We are the pioneers of miniature spectrometers. And so, we’ve [nearly] perfected that science. As we look to grow the company, we are also going to become even more customer-centric because customers are the lifeblood of the business.
Q: What energises you as we look ahead in 2020 and beyond?
ME: The thing that excites me most about the future of Ocean is being able to work with this team, all our wonderful employees, and to forge a path to growing this organisation and having it realise its potential.
It’s not going to be an easy job, certainly, and it’s not anything that I’m going to do alone. It will be a long, hard journey with lots of obstacles and barriers, but we’re going to get through them, we’re going to get over them, we will go around them and under them if we need to.
But as I think about that journey with the folks that we have within the business, I get excited. Because there’s a lot of work to do, and we’re going to be successful at doing that work. I’m looking forward to leading this organisation to its goals.
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