Ploughshare Innovations Ltd
Chief Executive Officer, Ploughshare Innovations Ltd
Our team was retained in early 2014 for Ploughshare Innovations Ltd, the wholly owned subsidiary of UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) research and development division. Ploughshare Innovations is a technology transfer company that manages the commercial licensing of intellectual property developed by Dstl headquartered at Porton Down. While Dstl’s responsibility is to bring the best science and technology innovations into the UK’s defence capability, Ploughshare’s brief is precisely the reverse i.e. to commercialise the MoD’s research into non-military markets. A successful appointment was made in April 2014; our client was Piers White, Chairman, Ploughshare Innovations Ltd. Piers spent 25 years in Financial Services with Barclays, Flemings and most recently Bank Insinger de Beaufort NV where he was UK Chief Executive until the sale to BNP Paribas in 2008.
Our challenge was to identify candidates with successful leadership experience gained at a senior level (ideally as a Chief Executive) in a commercial environment. Our success was dependent on candidates who could proactively build and leverage relationships with key stakeholders, including Ploughshare’s Board, Dstl scientific research community, commercial customers, funding partners and other government organisations to support the commercialisation of novel ideas.
The calibre and diversity of candidates’ experience on the search-led shortlist included:
Managing risk and challenge
Sourcing and candidate screening
The successful candidate was James Kirby who brought credible leadership profile as the Director and Chief Technology Officer at Aurix Limited. His strategic commercial leadership was all about merging creativity with numbers. His commercial acumen illustrated his ability to make right investment choices which also requires backing the right technology. He had a clear understanding of the gap between an early-stage technology invention and its commercial viability and had demonstrated his ability to bridge this gap by using a disciplined de-risking strategy often transforming the early-stage discovery into a validated, robust commercial package whilst consolidating intellectual property simultaneously.
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