Anyone seen my comfort zone?
A quick look at Philip’s professional biography highlights expertise and experience across various industries, countries, studies and careers. A deeper look reveals a quick mind that thrives on new challenges and demanding environments.
While Philip has concentrated largely on the pharmaceutical industry throughout his career, roles have ranged from fermentation technologist and antibiotic production, to large-scale project management and business services, in the UK and the US. There’s also been a foray into R&D tax services. And then there’s the involvement in specialist tours to the Maldives and India. Add to that the six separate degree and certificate courses studied at various universities – ranging from engineering to cell biology & biochemistry, to business management – again in the UK and the US, and a picture of continuous learning and development begins to take shape.
Philip’s current role as a Project Manager on the Business Acceleration for SMEs (BASME) programme with NEPIC caters perfectly to his enjoyment of meeting new challenges head on. BASME is different to most other SME offerings in that it helps companies sell into a specific sector, rather than simply offering them generic help or finance, Philip explains. “SMEs often struggle to sell into large companies, especially in a new sector. They lack contacts, don’t understand the terminology, and can’t get past the gatekeepers. The BASME programme levers the expertise of the NEPIC team and our large pool of members, who are willing to provide mentors to SMEs.
“But I often have to persuade members to help not only using the Corporate Social Responsibility angle, but also by understanding their own interests. Here my wide knowledge of technology helps – I’m a little different in that I’m a chartered engineer with a biology degree. I seem to be good at using my understanding of a large range of companies to match them appropriately, so that everyone benefits.”
Geneuis Labs is one of Philip’s success stories. With its main market being microbial testing within the food industry, Philip helped it understand the complexities of the pharma industry in the north, as well as locate and fund new facilities. As a result, Geneuis Labs was able to diversify its market, cross-sell to new clients, and collaborate with symbiotic companies.
My career highlights are rescuing a failing biopharmaceutical clinical trials project in California and leading the production dept. of a large scale Penicillin production facility. In both cases my education and production management background were key, but the results were mainly obtained by making best use of the talent, often previously not recognized, in the existing teams.
Despite no financial background, when Philip was made redundant from his Business Services Manager role at Cels Business Services (ahead of Cels’ merging with Bionow) he took on two Business Development roles simultaneously, one with Bioinnovel and the other Link Step R&D Tax Services. “I didn’t find the financial products difficult to understand and wasn’t at all daunted by the new field.”
This adaptability and flexibility, combined with an ever-optimistic outlook, has stood him in good stead during his not one but three redundancies.
“It was a sign of the times, but I’m now in the fortunate position to be involved in new and worthwhile challenges. Although I miss the leadership role, an involvement in technology, people and commercial success remain motivating factors.”
Philip’s enjoyment of new challenges is equaled only by his enjoyment of travelling. Both were satisfied simultaneously when, working for Synpac, he was seconded to California to turn around a failing biopharmaceutical project. Operating in a new technology and regulatory environment, within a year it was producing clinical trials material.
It seems that both travelling and hunting out challenging environments are family traits: Matthew, Philip’s eldest son (19), is taking a gap year travelling the world, and currently teaching English and drama in Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia; and Matthew and Chris, Philip’s wife, have volunteered at an orphanage school in Dharavi for a number of years, and recently volunteered at the Mother Teresa hospital in Calcutta. Thomas (17) is a talented footballer playing for Morpeth, and hopes to take Medicine at university.
Brought up in rural Leicestershire, Philip went to school in Market Harborough. While he was interested in biology at school he had no career plan, so his decision to study Biology at York was based purely on it being an attractive city. Since then, his educational development decisions have been far more strategic. “I like to have a thorough understanding of any field I’m involved with, including the academic side of things, which always complements the practical. For example, when I was at Cels I was involved in the commercialisation of the cell therapy field. I asked to go on the American course to make sure I had the latest information.”
No surprise then that Philip is a very competitive person, which comes out in the squash and football he still plays. And big game fishing, going by his LinkedIn photo? “No!”, he laughs, “I don’t really fish. The photo was taken in the Anderman Islands a few years ago. We were stuck there due to the Icelandic volcanic dust cloud, so made the most of the diving and fishing before getting back to mainland India. I just like the photo”, he admits.
As it turns out, the travel company is a sideline for Philip and actually belongs to Chris – he wrote and maintains the website, and is involved in attending trade shows and has the tough job of evaluating new destinations. “No News, No Shoes was created when Chris organised a family holiday to the Maldives and became aware of the lack of help and advice available. She saw a gap in the market and set up the company. We’ve subsequently fallen in love with India and have expanded to offer specific states there. Really, it’s just a good excuse for me to travel!“