Life at The Labs – Insight From Our CEO

Stephen Bates, CEO, RHEON Labs

I’ve always recognised a creative tension between art and science. I had an artist and a colour-blind accountant as parents and the strengths of both are always tussling for control in my thinking. At RHEON LABS we embrace this tension as a critical part of the day-to-day development work and it’s one of the key reasons why I joined the company.

Post-rationalising one’s career is a skill and something anyone who’s been interviewed recently will recognise. When I was contacted about the CEO role at RHEON LABS, the range of roles, experience and interests I had accumulated suddenly made more sense than it ever had. My engineering degree with a bias towards material science; ten postgraduate years in consumer product development; a business degree leading to a period in technology licensing; time living and working in the US; a technology strategy role with a major clothing retailer; an ‘apprenticeship’ as a CEO in several technology based businesses, all combined with a lifelong participation in endurance sport. I felt like I had ‘come home’ when I teamed up with the founder, Dr Dan Plant himself a PhD engineer with a design degree from the Royal College of Art.

Breadth and depth of skills and knowledge are critical for a CEO in a high-growth, high-tech enterprise but so is knowing when to recruit and hand over the reins to a senior specialist.

Running a business as complex as RHEON LABS fundamentally requires, in my view, a pretty detailed understanding of all the roles that we employ. The engineers, the FEA and test technicians, the CAD designers, the production engineers, the material scientists are all making choices and decisions and we need to know what risks these decisions represent if we are to support or challenge their views. This extends to our finance and branding functions and all the other areas of the business. Breadth and depth of skills and knowledge are critical for a CEO in a high-growth, high-tech enterprise but so is knowing when to recruit and hand over the reins to a senior specialist.

Fortunately, we are in the second phase of growth now and downstream of a very successful funding round. Over the last 12 months we have been able to put in place a high-quality management team which is allowing me to increase the level of strategic thinking. As a result, I am focusing on the commercial horizon now and exploring how my vision of creating and owning the ‘Energy Control’ category will play out. The sports-sector partners we already have and those we hope to work with will bring a range of products to their customers that offer benefits not possible before RHEON’s unique technology was available.

Creating the RHEON™ brand, building the company and the proposition and launching the first few ‘ground-breaking’ products has been immensely rewarding. Joining this company was the best decision of my career so far. As we continue to seek out and recruit ‘excellence’ in our new-joiners I look forward to offering them the same excitement that I feel every day.

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