Ryan Maughan, founder and MD at automotive cleantech company, AVID Technology, shares his career advice
How did you land your current job?
I got my first job working on a freelance basis in motorsport at a relatively young age. One day I realised that I wanted to make a more positive difference on the world. I worked at KC Engineering Limited as business development manager responsible for implementing lean manufacturing methods and new processes for four years but realised that I wanted to run my own business so I created AVID Technology, an automotive cleantech business based in the north east of England.
The company specialises in the design and manufacture of electrically powered ancillary systems such as the pumps and fans used in many advanced electric, hybrid and low emission diesel vehicles.
Do you have any tips for people about to embark in your field on how to make a success out of their careers in sustainability?
The world is changing and there is an increasing awareness of sustainability and environmental issues, but most people and companies are only willing to make changes that bring a benefit to their business as well as wider environmental benefits. Look for the win-win solutions and you will be successful. Don't talk too much about wider abstract issues like climate change, as many people find this hard to connect with.
Who have been your role-models/mentors in your career?
I have been interested in reading about and meeting as many successful people as possible, but I think the world has changed. Many folks who are successful today would not be if they had started their business now rather than 30 years ago. There is always a back story and everyone's situation is different. I have learnt to not be in awe of others, learn what I can from their successes and failures but most importantly to trust myself.
What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way?
In this industry, we occasionally encounter markets and customers that do not value technology and innovation and are simply seeking to de-value our value proposition and commoditise. The key is to recognise there will always be problems, some bigger than others. Don't get into a victim mindset about it, take responsibility for your situation and sort it out. On the flip side, I think there is a lot more awareness in the industry now about the business opportunities in clean technology.
What is key to getting the most out of your team/colleagues?
Good communication and a sense of purpose. Make sure people are connected with what they are doing and also realise that not everything will work out. Take action to address these problems quickly and decisively. One of the most undermining things for any team are poorly performing team members that are left to fester.
What have been the ground-breaking instances or milestones in the sustainability field that have really changed the way you have to work? And how did you adapt to these events?
The last two years have seen a huge shift in the automotive industry towards electrification. We were doing this a long time before it was fashionable. A few years ago we were selling the concept whereas now people understand the benefits and are developing our technology into their vehicles.
How have you developed your career?
I have a love for learning and take as many opportunities to read and learn as much as possible to broaden my skills. Take every opportunity you can to learn but don't get hung up on bits of paper.
What does the future have in store for your industry – choppy waters ahead? Or a fruitful and secure future?
There has never been a more exciting time to be in the engineering industry; there is so much change across the board, particularly in our sector where vehicle Powertrain (the main components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface) is changing beyond recognition. Calm waters are not a very interesting place to sail!