I think innovation is all about having people who have a passion for challenging the status quo and giving them the space to think and brainstorm new ways to solve customer problems. It’s all about thinking outside of the box.
How long have you been with Benchmark and what made you join?
I joined the Benchmark board in October 2018. I was drawn by Benchmark’s unique position in the aquaculture industry, addressing all of our customers’ needs across the diverse areas of the food value chain such as health, nutrition, genetics etc.
Before joining, I also researched Benchmark on the internet and was attracted to the vision of driving sustainability in food production and evolving the way we use the planet’s resources more efficiently and effectively in the future.
Alex works with Benchmark R&D and innovations teams around the world
What have been your priorities since joining Benchmark?
My highest priority in the first months after joining was getting to know the corporate management teams, the boards, and then of course the R&D and divisional teams. I spent most of this time visiting the R&D sites to understand the teams, the business, the challenges and to get a feel for the culture and people at Benchmark. I always consider this to be very important because this is when you really start to understand how a company operates.
Can you describe your role?
As one of the three executive directors of the Benchmark Board, my key responsibility is to develop and execute our strategy which is set by the Plc Board. My focus is on all aspects of our product pipeline such as innovation and commercialisation efforts. In addition, I’m also on the Operations Board and Divisional Boards with a responsibility to support the board members in reaching their operation goals. Last but not least, I sit on the Sustainability Committee. Here I work with various members of the Group to execute and deliver our vision to be the leading provider of sustainable product solutions to the aquaculture industry.
Alex spent time with our Advanced Nutrition and Animal Health teams on a visit to Thailand in March 2019
Where are you based?
In Switzerland which requires travelling but I try to restrict this as much as possible by using Zoom. When I do travel, it tends to be to London for Board meetings. I also hold regular meeting with the R&D teams at our site in the UK, Belgium and Norway, and our trial sites in Italy, Scotland and Thailand.
Outside work, Alex stays active by skiing, hiking, running and mountain biking
What excites you most about your job and Benchmark’s work?
Being part of a great global team. Working with a team with such a diverse range of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures – all with a common vision to make a substantial impact on how we produce high-value animal protein in a sustainable and profitable way. It really excites me to be part of such a great global team.
Tell us about the people you work with?
My daily interactions are mostly with people who have a scientific background and work in an R&D environment across the divisions. Being a scientist myself I have experience of doing experimental work for more than 10 years, then managing and coaching R&D teams for the last 25 years, I’m very familiar with all aspects of the work our scientists do. I’m also very familiar with their successes, as well as failures and frustrations, which form an inherent part of experimental lab work. This is something I really try to encourage our people to cope with – the failures and frustrations as well as appreciating the hard work they do on a daily basis.
On a recent trip to our Advanced Nutrition R&D team in Italy
What do you think are the key ingredients for an innovative group?
I think innovation is all about having people who have a passion for challenging the status quo and giving them the space to think and brainstorm new ways to solve customer problems. It’s all about thinking outside of the box. I believe it is also vital to understand our customers and what they do on a daily basis. Innovation is not something exclusively done by our scientists, although ultimately our scientists will test new ideas. Anyone is able to come up with new innovations that change the lives and work of our customers and to help find our next innovation.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Anytime I’m not in the office, I like being outdoors. I’m really a person who likes being in nature and being in Switzerland I enjoy walking, running and hiking. Mountain biking is one of my favourite activities in summer time. Ski touring and free riding are definitively favourite activities in winter. And of course, I also love spending time with family – going to the theatre or listening to music. Going to jazz clubs or to see a film at the local picture house with my wife are probably some of my favourite afterhours activities.