WID Podcast Series | Andy Wynn interview
This month we talk to Andy Wynn. Andy is a University of Warwick alumnus (BSc Chemistry, PhD Chemistry) and CEO at TTIP Global – a global organisation that advises tech, sustainability and social enterprise start-ups and researchers on how best to commercialise their ideas.
We asked Andy, what does it take to succeed in business?
Read the interview here…
Hello my name is Jason Hier from Warwick Innovation District – we help drive innovation and support the development of new businesses.
On this podcast my guest is Andy Wynn. Andy is a Warwick alumnus, BSc Chemistry, PhD Chemistry, he’s also the CEO of TTIP Global, a global organisation that advises tech sustainability and social enterprise start-ups and researchers on how to best commercialise their ideas. He’s currently residing in Marbella in Spain, Andy thank you so much for your time today. Let’s just start with an intro, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Andy: So my name’s Andy Wynn, I’ve had 30, I think 35 year career now in Industry. I started out as a a Warwick graduate, a degree a PhD in Chemistry, many many decades ago. That clearly set me up for what I’m doing today.
I did 30 years in a business called Morgan Advanced Materials, which is a global multinational UK based public limited company. I started out as a Technologist, I went out into business management. So I’ve had a career of either creating or delivering new technology solutions to the market. That took me into many many industrial sectors, Automotive, Aerospace, heavy industry, semi-con, medical devices, you name it. You know when you’re working in Advanced Materials, they’re the building blocks of industry really, so it takes you everywhere which is pretty stimulating.
I think it kept me interested for 30 years, eventually it took me to China – I spent the last six years of my corporate existence in China, where I was building factories, setting up joint ventures, transferring technologies from the West to the East, had a great time – it was an eye-opening place, it changed me as a person, and as a business person.
After 30 years, I did 30 years as a corporate slave and I decided enough was enough, I was recalled back to the mothership and I decided that wasn’t for me. I thought it was time for me to follow my passion, which is commercialisation of new technology. So I set up what has become TTIP Global, it’s a global team of ex-corporate executives, like myself, people who have had a long history in one multinational and another. I finished as Chief Technology Officer in my business, so that took me into the commercialisation aspect.
So we have TTIP Global, with boots on the ground in 13 out of the top 15 global economies now and we help companies to launch their technologies in the market. So we work with start-ups, work with established companies, we work with multinationals, and knocking down the barriers to technology commercialisation.
Jason: So what would you say are the key skills and values required to be successful in your field of work?
Andy: You know I said our business is based on technology and technology commercialisation, and of course there’s a lot of tactical and technical skills required as a given to do that, but actually, looking back, what have I learned over the last few decades about commercialising technology – Essentially it’s a people-driven thing, you have to build relationships, the barriers are mostly influencing people.
So the key skills I slowly learned, it took a long time but, you know, these are things I have to do in spades now. Number one is networking, you have to reach out to meet people, and not always with a purpose. You know I’m not I’m no great socialite, but I do love meeting new and interesting people, and you’ve got to want to have to do that, because it’s those key relationships which make things happen in any business and technology commercialisation is no different.
The other thing, if you’re in technology, particularly in coming from a manufacturing business, manufacturing background, so largely we work in what’s called Deep Tech these days. Hard Tech, people who make things but not in the physical world. So, what are the things about delivering new technologies to the market? Many many barriers, so you have to have a lot of persistence, you have to have a lot of patience and you have to have grit and determination, because it will take several years sometimes.
The other key skills, values required, in certainly where we work, you’re always pushing yourself, you’re always learning something new. You’ve got to be. If you’re not feeling uncomfortable then there’s something wrong, you’ve got to push yourself, you can’t be scared by what you don’t know, there’s always someone out there who can support you.
Jason: Have you got any advice on how we encourage more young people into the entrepreneurial space?
Andy: One of the things, looking back, reflecting on a corporate career, certainly I think it was very valuable to have learned some hard skills. I know there’s a lot of interest in entrepreneurialism these days, and starting your own thing, but that requires a very generalist approach and you have to have a broad knowledge of how business works. One great way of getting that is to go and work in a business, particularly a mid-sized business.
I think one of the things I discovered, as I got into larger and larger companies, actually your job tends to get narrower and narrower. So if you start in a small to medium company, you get to wear a lot of hats and you get to build, you get this broad knowledge of how a business works, but alongside of that you need to build some practical skills. So go and learn to be a salesperson, go and learn to be a marketing person, or go and learn to be a technical R&D person – that gives you a solid background, you know. Something to build off, and then, if you want to go into commercialisation and building businesses you’ve got something to build, and then you can add to that.
I think you have to be willing to learn, you have to be interested, you know. There’s nothing wrong with being a specialist and carrying that on for your career, but that is not going to get you into what we do – commercialising technology. You have to have a business hat, and a technology hat on as well.
Jason: So looking back at the growth of your current business, is there any big moment where you thought wow I think we’re on the right track here?
Andy: There’s probably a few big moments leading up to that. We as a team had a feeling that there was something missing out in the marketplace, particularly in the UK. The UK government is pushing a kind of science-based superpower mantra and it’s putting more and more money into universities creating new technology, new science and that’s great, and that’s fantastic BUT what we see is a gap, because that approach is fine at filling the funnel. More and more technologies, more and more spin-offs from universities and there’s a lot of good, a good support to kick-start new companies, and then support for entrepreneurs and particularly universities spin-outs.
Practically there’s a lot of that going on, a lot of training, a lot of support, grants out there, fantastic BUT the problem that we see is, that just creates a log jam, a block down the funnel. I see the government expecting industry to come along and pick all these new things up, but believe me, businesses are pretty busy doing their own thing. They’re busy in this difficult world with their supply chains, with their quality, with trying to make a profit, hiring and firing, all this kind of stuff, the stuff of doing your business.
So I see a gap and that’s where TTIP Global came along – we are people who have delivered, and I mean what is the gap between new technology? In the Hard Tech world – it’s manufacturing, you’ve got to build something, people have to scale up, you need pilot plans, you need a first factory, you need a second factory. These are the skills that aren’t taught, you know.
You’ve got to make it real and so I think some of the pivotal moments for us as a business were when we start engaging with the big boys of the world. So yes we work with start-ups, it’s not too difficult to work with a start-ups because what do they want? They want money, they want advice, they want an investor. There’s lots of people who need that support.
When we started engaging with the DuPonts of this world, the 3Ms of this world, you know, these are huge giants. We run a lot of online networking forums, training sessions and when we start having board members of DuPont, 3M, Johnson Matthey on our calls, those are moments that you think – oh this means something, these people want to spend time with us.
Jason: Looking back then, going back to the days at Warwick, how did your time at Warwick aid your personal and professional development?
Andy: Well of course there’s a great education, I guess. Like most young people I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do with my life – I’m still trying to find that out really, but it is for sure – three years degree, three years PhD Chemistry, then in Organic Chemistry – I did that because, I’m not sure I had a great passion for it at the time, but I seem to be pretty good at it. So that’s the path I took and honestly, one of the other things that drove me to stay at Warwick is, what I learned a lot of, is I was having a lot of fun.
Warwick was a great place that taught me the value of camaraderie and building relationships, and taught me that life shouldn’t be travelled solo. Yes it’s fun to have friends, but it’s only later in life you realise the value of these people in these relationships, that can support you through the ups and downs of life, and business, because you’ll have both and so I think that’s the most valuable lesson it taught me, my time at Warwick.
Jason: Who has been your biggest influences on your career so far?
Andy: Interesting, well I think it’s an another thing, when you’re at the end of your corporate career, you look back. I talked about this with colleagues a few times recently – if you look back at all the bosses you’ve had, and sometimes you think, yeah some you had are better relationship than others, that’s just natural, but actually when you look back there’s something to be learned from every boss you’ve ever had. Not just bosses, but senior people, people that take you under their wing and I think there were three key people in my corporate career that were the biggest influences.
I think early on there was a guy called Martin Moore, he was a very senior figure in Modern Advanced Materials and he kind of took me under his wing. I didn’t actually report to him, but I worked with him quite often and what did he taught me? In an international business he taught me the ways of international travel and doing business. He was the first guy that took me on long-haul plane trips, and took me to restaurants, showed me how it all worked really, and I think that was tremendously valuable – a kind of life lesson, as well as business lesson.
The second guy was a guy called Phil Wright. He was president in a global division. I worked directly for him for many years, very professional, a lot of discipline, a real stickler but passionate about what he did and he taught me that kind of professionalism aspect of it.
Then the third person that was a huge influence was my last official boss. I worked for this guy for many years, a guy called Ian Rob, based in Singapore, when I was in Asia. Ian’s skill was the human side of business, the relationship side of business. He was a fun guy, he was a charismatic leader, and he took me to my first karaoke bar and I just kind of fell in love with that kind of Asian side of, friends and family part of business – that is, I think, missing in the West. So these three guys were the most influential people for me in my career.
Jason: Final question then Andy, What does the future hold for you?
Andy: So, I’m focusing in the short to medium term – I’m promoting my new book, which is called Building an Innovation Powerhouse – which is about the people aspects of innovation, how to build a culture of innovation, how individuals can contribute, how you get teams working together, these kind of aspects. So I’m spending this year delivering more speaking engagements on that, on building our workshop content around that.
So I’ll be busy growing TTIP Global – like many we’re starting to travel more. I’m always open and looking for new opportunities, in fact I have another business called Pure Emissions, which is pollution capture technology for the shipping industry, which I’m busy promoting.
In terms of the future future we’re about to launch a third business, which will be my first fully digital business called Block Capital, which is a unique blockchain based investment platform for crypto assets. So watch this space, big announcement coming soon.
Jason: Well Andy, thank you so much for your time today. What we’ll do is post links to the business and and how you can get start-up support from the University of Warwick below the podcast. Andy I wish you best of luck and enjoy the weather in Marbella.
Andy: Thank you Jason, good to chat, take care.
More about TTIP Global click here: https://www.ttipglobal.com/
If you need business support visit our website and click on Focus Sectors in the menu: https://warwickinnovationdistrict.com/