Ryan is MD of Cramlington-based Avid Technology, whose powertrain and management systems are used by almost every electric and hybrid truck and bus maker in Europe
Q1. What does the company do?
AVID Technology is a North East-based automotive cleantech company specialising in the design and manufacture of electrified powertrain and advanced thermal management systems for the rapidly growing electric and hybrid vehicle market. Almost every truck and bus maker in Europe uses our products. We have a highly skilled engineering team at our base in Cramlington and a number of new patents pending on unique technologies we’ve developed in-house.
Q2. Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I am the founder and MD, providing strategic and technical leadership to our team and overseeing the management of our relationships with customers, suppliers and stakeholders. We have created some great research and development collaborations and strategic partnerships with our customer-base of leading vehicle manufacturers and operators. A couple of fantastic major developments for us this year include a £1 million investment to expand our manufacturing capabilities to help us meet increasing demand in the market and we’ve also secured a multi-million pound deal with GKN Hybrid Power to take over the development, manufacture and sale of the EVO Motor.
Q3. Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I’ve always been passionate about cars and building things! I started my career in the motorsport industry as a junior technician in a racing team building and running cars around the world including the Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours and the FIA GT Championship Series.
After several successful years I became disillusioned with motorsport and tired of being away from home and my family so I decided to retire from the motorsport industry. I returned home and gained a role in a wonderful company that manufactured high precision components for industrial machinery. After a few years there I decided to use my skills and knowledge of high performance engineering and the automotive sector to set up my own business.
I could always see the potential for making vehicles more sustainable and better for the environment and wanted to make a difference. I founded the AVID Technology Group in 2004 with a mission from the outset to develop new technology to improve efficiency and reduce emissions and fuel consumption from vehicles through improved controls and electrification.
Q4. What do you believe makes a great leader?
Passion, resilience, vision and the ability to bring people together to build a strong team and feel they are part of something special. The founding principles of AVID were, and still remain, for us to do good and make a positive impact by helping our customers achieve their goals.
Q5. What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
In the early years it was finding the right blend of talent and personalities that shared my values and ambition to create a winning business. It was also tricky securing conventional finance for things like cars and equipment. I was told by one bank manager that I was too young to take on such an ambitious business plan!
Q6. How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I think it helps if you love what you do! Plus I have a fantastic and very supportive family. Down time is family time. I coach my sons’ rugby team on weekends and go running and swimming whenever I can.
Q7. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, I always wanted to be an engineer! I love creating and building things and both my sons are already showing similar traits.
Q8. Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I’m not a fan of negativity. It’s in my nature to be a problem-solver so I place a lot of stock on helping yourself by being positive. I’m a great believer in the saying: “Every day may not be good...but there's something good in every day”. I actually have this one and a few others on display around AVID HQ.
Q9. Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
By growing our presence in the field of systems electrification our strategy is to increase turnover to £50 million over the next 3-5 years. We want AVID to be the number one specialist supplier of technology for electric vehicles, robotics and industrial electronics.
Q10. What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I think there’s a misconception that being your own boss is easier than being employed. You need to make sure you get into business for the right reasons because you have to work hard at it. It takes a lot of time and commitment to launch and grow a successful company.
Q11. What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Not all advice is good advice, especially when you’re young and starting out. It’s great to have mentors in business but it’s important to find the right ones.
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