Prof Steven Senior
Honorary Professor & Entreprenuer in Residence for the Royal Society
I am currently a Director at SIgnbox Ltd, based in London
Im also an Entreprenuer in Residence (EiR) at The Royal Society, based at The University of Exeter within the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
I have also been appointed as Honorary Professor for the College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences.
My Fellowship at the University is called "Engineering Coming Alive". A dynamic process of vision and strategy and how to lead the team to deliver.
Graduating From the University of Plymouth with a BEng (Hons) in Manufacturing Systems I worked for the same University for a further 3 years on the KTP program within a company that I later came to be Managing Director. Whilst completing this project I graduated with a MSc in Management of Technology as well as helping to double the size of the business.
I gained Chartered Engineer status at just 26 as I had been Director Designate for 3 years at an American owned manufacturing facility that employed over 150 people. Managing operations for a high tech high volume facility involved me in people management, complex systems and complex bill of materials, manufacturing technology and ERP manufacturing systems.
In my career I have worked for Rolls Royce Aerospace Plc twice covering gas turbine manufacture through to nuclear propulsion. Working on surface ships, submarines and later on aerospace engines I rapidly got promoted to company senior staff managing a Rolls Royce Aerospace facility at just 30 years of age. I became the youngest member of company senior staff working for the Plc board of directors.
Entreprenurial Record :
I chose to step out of my career path and buy a business that had lost its direction, with the will and belief that I could turn it around quickly and apply a lot of drive and skill in managing this business with a very rigid strategy. The team I managed evolved this business from £300k to £7m in just 15 years and became a group of companies. I grew this group of companies with 4 separate locations and each starting as an entrepreneurial adventure of its own. One of these secondary businesses I grew to £1.5m in just 5 years and another grew to £800k inside of just 2 years. I proved that I could replicate success in entrepreneurial adventures more than once and this has given me a great understanding of what constitutes success. For example I developed a business strategy that became a formula for recycling every idea and design that most companies would waste, This strategy developed into a thriving new products process that most businesses lack. Also developing a business model that allows client projects to evolve into products and in reverse products leading to client projects. We believed this reciprocal strategy that wastes no ideas became the formula for growth and we could clearly see that most of our competitors lacked these elements.
I believe strongly in reinvesting profits into growing companies and teams and have a good understanding of how to raise funds to lay foundations for growth, more importantly I understand the process of balancing risk against the return on investment and how this is controlled and measured.
I have been engaging for the last 6 months on several joint projects at Exeter University through their Set Squared Partnership organisation. I have benefited these projects by giving business advice to these organisations on a range of topics including IP, Design, Funding, Business strategy and development.
Technical Skill :
I am a Chartered Engineer that has developed from being an apprentice through to management in a Blue Chip organisation ( Rolls Royce Aerospace Plc ) and then on to be a successful entrepreneur. I have been integral part of the development of two businesses that have grown significantly as well as creating four businesses that have flourished to multi millions in turnover in a short amount of time.
In addition to mentoring I look forward to introducing to students a skill set beneficial for an entrepreneur. A large part of my role as EiR will be teaching and exploring what makes entrepreneurs and ensuring they understand the energy and drive that is required to make dreams come true. I have over 20 years experience with these methodologies that has been a continual journey of innovation leading to many exciting breakthroughs (and some setbacks). Learning from the setbacks is critical to any development of success,
I have energy, drive and have a personality that naturally promotes enthusiasm. People always comment on my enthusiastic nature and this is infectious for anyone I work with.
I believe I have an insight into how universities can integrate entrepreneurship into an academic course with great benefit to the students future.
I have an exceptional understanding of the development of E Commerce Marketing and Digital Strategies, these skills are essential for any developing business model in todays world. I have developed in my career at least ten websites that have underpinned growth and lead generation that makes up a strong element of the marketing of any business. I understand the requirements of web design, SEO, PPC and content.
Business Role Model :
I have valuable lessons I have learnt in the last 30 years of work. I strongly believe that for engineers to beentrepreneurial they must have commercial skills and understand the cost, sales process and commercial benefits of everything they do. I have a strong set of skills that I can use to demonstrate how return on investment works and how to value stream every activity. For engineers in smaller businesses to be entrepreneurial they need to be able to sell to clients, this will involve creative design to enable them to sell their ideas to their stakeholders. I strongly believe that without a creative process at the front end of the development processes with clients it is possible to miss valuable ideas and steer the correct direction for a project. Too many people are guided by the information presented and can not think out of the box. I would therefore like to talk to young engineers about their ability to sketch and explore creativity in addition to helping them develop commercial thinking and understand the finance and return on investment required.
I encourage failure to be discussed and not hidden away. It is too easy for everyone to move on from failure and pretend it did not happen. Analysis of the failure is an iterative process to making gains and so important for businesses and individuals to develop themselves.
I am passionate about encouraging young people to develop their skills and ideas and get great satisfaction from igniting the spark that could lead them to starting their own businesses. I make a point of always being available to unconditionally give some time to anyone from schools or colleges in need of career advice. I have coached swimming for many years and the satisfaction that can be gained from seeing results from your effort is extremely rewarding.
I have some simple rules and ideas on what creates success in creating growth and I enjoy sharing them with people that are keen to pursue an adventurous career.
A valuable network :
I believe strongly in nurturing and have created a network of contacts from all walks of life and industry. This would be one of the strong benefits I can bring to the role of EiR for introductions to technology providers and companies. Having worked as an Managing Director and always majoring in sales and marketing for so many years as part of my growth journey in several businesses, I have a natural skill set to grow a network and win over partners for the university.
I have the benefit of experience of two very large organisations and six SME’s that I have been a part of leading and growing. There is a recipe of success in my DNA and part of this two year tenure at Exeter University will be in exploring how to formalise this recipe into a package that can be taught.