There’s no doubt that managing a business has its successes and challenges and who better to talk to about these than the Director of BPES himself, Tom!

Tom discusses how he got into Biopharma, how the pandemic has shifted our daily working routines and how essential it is to motivate and support a team and its customers!

How did you get into the Biotech industry?

Following college, I worked in an industry which was related to Biopharma. First off as a Project Engineer, then a Project Manager for an international company who made a range of liquid and powder filling systems, along with tableting and capping machines.

The company went through some financial difficulties in the late 90s, early 2000s, and I decided to take voluntary redundancy at that point. My dad who had started BPES a few years earlier asked me if I’d like to join him. So, I did and the rest is history

What is your favourite thing about being the Director of BPES?

It’s a challenging position to fulfil because whilst my job is rewarding, it can be a struggle sometimes to feel a sense of achievement with so many tasks on the go. However, and I suppose it might be a bit of a cliche, when the team is happy and we achieve great things together, that’s the best feeling. In turn, this reflects on our customer satisfaction and it’s really important to me that we demonstrate value to our customers. We’re not just an intermediary, we are much more than that. So when people will take the time to give you some feedback, it’s lovely.

If you weren’t the Director of BPES, what would you be doing?

I love woodworking and hand crafting. I’d love to be able to spend a bit more time doing my hobby. So, I’d like to think that I would be able to make it as a carpenter, maybe in retirement, who knows!

What does a typical day at BPES look like for you?

Everyday starts with our team meeting, followed by a routine check of emails and creating a ‘to-do’ list. I find out how I can support any of my colleagues’ needs throughout the day, so I can make sure I’m available for them if they need me. Then I’ll look at our CRM system to make sure that we’re on top of our prospects and that we’re not getting behind – admin and more admin! Ultimately, I don’t have standard days, I have standard moments!

What are the biggest challenges that your customers face at the moment?

Currently, most of our challenges boil down to the pandemic, which affects the supply chain and getting consumables in a timely manner. It’s not so much that there are long lead times, but the unpredictability of it. One day, a supplier will have stock of something, and the next day they’ll be out of stock for months – it’s very unpredictable, but I have to say that our suppliers have been amazing throughout and have done what they can to satisfy our customer’s needs.

There are some elements of our business that have grown significantly as a result of the pandemic because we have been able to provide a better, tailored service to our customers. Beyond that, I think there’s also a real challenge within the very competitive job market in the UK at the moment to get good people into key roles.

How has BPES changed since joining?

It’s changed significantly. Initially, it was just three of us, a very small company that had a couple of products for sale. Now, we’re very much an equipment and solution provider. We were 80% service, 20% product sales, and now we are 80% product sales, 20% service.

I think one thing that’s changed more recently is making sure that we have the expertise, technical and scientific knowledge within the company which affects how we operate and the service that we can provide our customers. As an engineer, I understand how products work, but I don’t necessarily know too much about applications, whereas our sales team and applications specialists are all specialists in their field, they speak the same language as our customers and are able to find the right solutions.

What makes BPES stand out amongst your competitors?

We have an extremely strong product portfolio. What really makes us stand out to our suppliers is the support that we offer too. We’re not a catalogue company with a one size fits all solution; we have the product and applications knowledge so we are always equipped to support our customers.

How do you motivate your team?

I’m probably guilty of not having formal strategies in place. I like to think that I’m very approachable so I would hope to be always available if the team needs me. I hope that I empower people to make their own decisions and to create or mould the role into what they want it to be. Whether you’re in a sales, support or administration role, everyone has their own style and wants to interact with people in the way that fits their personality. I would hope at BPES, our rich team culture would allow people to do that. I would hope that people will feel they can be themselves and still thrive, without having to fit into a formula.

What would you say is your biggest success in your career so far?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a lightbulb moment. I’ve done what I’ve wanted to achieve, but I’ve most certainly had moments when I’ve thought “Wow, we actually have come a long way.” Assembling the team that we have around us at the moment is what I’m most proud of and the fact that we are much more active in our industry. We are definitely being heard now and that’s great.

Has there been any good to come out of the adjustment made around the pandemic?

I think assessing people’s work-life balance and realising you can do a lot remotely and how efficient you can be is something to take away from the pandemic. I really think twice before driving anywhere now and will always try to use the train. Driving up the motorway for four hours, to attend a one hour meeting, just seems crazy now that we can work from home; I can’t quite believe how much time I’ve spent in my car over the years! There is of course no substitute for meeting people face to face, and of course I will always make an effort to see our customers and suppliers, but a lot can be done remotely which is to the benefit of all parties and the environment.

I also believe it’s important that the whole team meet up in person so we try and have regular ‘team days’ which often also involve a social element.