Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Dr. Laura Bond

  • Name: Dr. Laura Bond

    Role: Chair, The Change VC Fund

    Biography:

    Laura graduated from Warwick University with a BSc in Chemistry and worked in R&D functions within a big pharma company. Her final year project was within manufacturing engineering, looking at how to recycle vehicles at the end of their lives.  She then worked for a spin-out company as an Electrochemist in Vienna, Austria before returning to the UK to do a PhD at Nottingham in the area of Biophysics and Surface Science.  She then spent 8 years at IP Group plc, looking at inventions from Universities, turning them into spin-out companies and growing them with investment, business building and then exiting them. She subsequently went to Walgreens Boots Alliance to work on Open Innovation and partnerships with innovative STEM companies. 

    What does your typical day look like?

    Pretty normal in some ways and special in others: Most days I make breakfast for the kids, get them ready for school and drop them off. If I'm working from home, I go to my office and switch on. I go to London at least once a week, so then I'll get the early train. Typically my day involves dealing with formal documents and being a sounding board for people, discussing data, looking at protocols, compliance etc. All my work involves some kind of technical challenge so I'm always learning something new. 

    What are you currently working on?

    I have a portfolio role. I'm as NonExecutive Chairman of Goodbox; a philanthropic payments business which you may have seen collecting contactless donations in Armagh for example.I'm also the Marketing Director of Future Family which involves building global insurance products around conception, stem cell treatment and conditions around pregnancy. I'm also a board advisor to Mimmo Organics in India who are bringing organic, nutritious food to young children. I've been working with The Change VC for a few months now, looking at STEM companies in NI and how to accelerate their growth for global impact. 

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    The Change is (by its nature) trying to do something very different. At the early stage of a tech business, it's not just about the investment; it's also about the rate of learning, the growth of the team and managing what can be stellar growth. The others in the team have real life experience of doing this multiple times and understand the mentoring and connections required.  It's very interesting to bring the financial aspect of investment with the human development requirements of business building, the latter increasing in importance with complexity of technology. 

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    It never really occurred to me that there was any other industry until I went to Boots! But what I would say is that tech is permeating all areas of work; advertising, creative, sales, logistics, ops, legal...I'm not sure you can escape from tech even if you wanted to. 

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I'm always delighted by the creativity of people in the tech industry. Tech is an enabler for so much and I love meeting people, seeing the prototypes, having a go and watching how customers use the products/services.  The annual reviews are always a joy; the capacity for tech to improve lives is enormous. 

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry (tech)?

    It's always interesting so be open to continuous learning.  Be open to developing communication skills at a faster rate than your tech skills - unless you can explain your ideas and get people bought into them, it's going to be tough. 

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?

    As I said before, I don't think any area will be untouched by technology so it will transform how we do everything. I do think though, the human side will become more important - creativity, empathy and communication. 

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    Probably my Dad who let me break stuff at home and then explained to me how to put it together again. He is a mathematician and taught me the power of patiently working it out and showing my working; then making links back again to get me a unified understanding.  I did my GCSE/A'Levels at a girls' school so I never had the concept that STEM was for boys as there weren't any boys! Both gave me a growth mindset to give things a go. 

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    The internet has transformed our lives beyond recognition. I'm excited to see more women in the STEM space; as yet most tech has been developed by men and I know that women would bring a very different perspective. I want tech to be useful for everyone.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    Sounds very cliche but my smartphone. 

     

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