Meet the MD: Chris Roche of Aridhia

Meet the MD: Chris Roche of Aridhia

As CEO of Aridhia Chris Roche's job can vary on a day-to-day basis, from managing short-term tasks to looking ahead and planning for the future. He caught up with BQ to tell us a little more.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

Varied. As with the CEO role of any SME business I have to balance the short-term operational general manager and sales activities with the longer term “where are we going” activity ensuring we have a sustainable business model. I’d also describe my role as “enjoyable”.


What is it the company does?

We deliver a cloud-based data and analytics platform service called AnalytiXagility. Our service helps to accelerate the data innovation process for healthcare, research and precision medicine.

Our clients are challenged in delivering data-driven innovation because of the silo-based information systems built over the last 30 years. Collecting, cleansing, linking, analysing and transforming multiple data types at scale and to a defined service level and cost is challenging when you also have to adhere to the highest levels of information governance and reproducibility.

AnalytiXagility gives collaborative research and healthcare teams access to secure, auditable pre-configured workspaces and analytics services. Users can rapidly assemble data assets by deploying the inbuilt workspace functionality such as the collaborative analytic workbench, de-identification and ontology services. The rapid prototyping environment allows clients to build and release analytic models in a fraction of the time.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I think of my career starting when I decided to go to university at the age of 28 to study computing and information technology. Leaving university I was fortunate to get a role in the CEO’s office at ICL. I stayed there for 3 years and it gave me a great understanding of how a business operates and how it needs to change at the strategic level in order to grow and develop. I only left when Fujitsu, the then owner, decided not to float the company.

Through a business contact I then took a role in EMC where I spent 15 happy years. A company that makes 120+ acquisitions and has double digit quarterly growth for the majority of the time I was there is going to offer some outstanding opportunities. From running a £150m business to building two businesses almost from scratch, it was just a great place to be. You had a new opportunity every 18-24 months. Having led business transformation within a large corporate environment the SME world was the next natural step. Aridhia also offered me the place to bring all my experience together across third generation technology and business transformation and apply them to industries - research and healthcare - that desperately need to adapt a platform approach both both business and technology execution. 


What do you believe makes a great leader?

By definition a leader needs followers. Giving people the confidence to achieve more than they would expect of themselves is vital.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Moving through the process of business transformation fast enough. You need to get segmentation, alignment and scale all working at the same time


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I wouldn’t say I am a particularly stressful person. There’s been a lot of research lately that says spending time with animals is a significant way to cope with stress. If that’s the case I’m in good order as I enjoy horse riding and compete regularly. I also train one of my dogs in agility. In addition, I support the Riding for the Disabled Association and when you are exposed to some of the challenges our riders have, and are overcoming, you realise pretty quickly that you have a relatively stress-free life. RDA’s motto is “It’s what you can do that counts.”


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

To be frank I never gave it much thought. I was too busy enjoying being a kid.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

As an SME we need our people to be flexible and willing to pitch in, so I’m always encouraging people to get stuck in and learn new skills that might not sit within their traditional role. 


Where do you see the company in five years time?

In many respects totally different from today, as the scale of what we do and whom we serve will explode as the world of research and healthcare embrace platform business models. I see our core differentiators of collaboration and trust only becoming more relevant. Our market at the moment is a B2B offering, but over time this will move to include a B2P element as the patient is given more direct control over access to and dynamic consent for use of their own data.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

You’re unlikely to look back and say “I wish I went slower or went to more meetings.” Sometimes you just need alignment to what you are doing and not consensus.