Peter Whawell – Little Big Vets Podcast – Series 1

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From serving 12 years in the Royal Naval Reserve as a Lieutenant to a subsequent 19 years within the UK Government as Deputy Director for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, our guest on this episode, Peter Whawell, is no stranger to serving his country.

building a serious app usually takes like 10 months we built this thing it’s

10 and a half weeks there there was there was some real difficulties with some of the engineering you’re trying to

drive bits of phones in ways they weren’t intended to be driven and at the same time Apple were offering an

alternative approach to that so it’s a really difficult decision to be made time went by and you can see the the

Apple thing didn’t perform as well as the original one on the Isle of Wight and as that became visible over the next

year a few of us thought you know what actually that’s quite an important thing because it’s not just covered this is a

technique that would work for any pathogen so what you’re actually talking about here is imagining a world that

could be largely free of communicable disease I’m Nick Haley founder of Little Big

Tech after more than a decade in the Army I left and joined civilian life in this podcast series I’ll be speaking to

entrepreneurs who left military service and started the next exciting chapter in their lives we’ll hear how these

inspiring individuals transitioned from active service to the world of business how did they take the first step on the

road to becoming an entrepreneur we’ll find out welcome to little big vets the

veteran entrepreneurs podcast [Music]

[Music] from 7 12 years in the Royal Navy Reserve as a lieutenant to a subsequent

19 years within the UK government as deputy director for the foreign and Commonwealth office my guest on today’s

podcast Peter werewolf is no stranger to serving his country today we’ll sit down

with Peter and learn how the skills and experience he learned during his time such as courage leadership and

attentiveness have influenced him throughout his life and directly guided his career Journey from protecting our

nation’s interests to protecting against disease using a digital solution for infection prevention and control we’ll

cover how Peter has since co-founded his own company proximos where he holds the position of Chief Executive Officer

Peter thanks for joining us it’s a pleasure to have you here today and I’m sure our listeners are eager to hear

your story so can you tell me a little bit about your experience in the Royal Navy Reserve

yeah certainly I joined sort of soon after I’d left University and joined HMS president which is a sort

of the London unit and at the time the role of the reserves was focused on sort of Niche professions

as it were in in the Royal Navy so for me that meant sort of Mind Warfare

operations and I had a very enjoyable I think it was 12

years with royal naval Reserve basically training and keeping ready for the role

of a sort of Mine Warfare Ops officer should we ever have to mount a a large-scale mind Warfare operation

obviously a reservist Journeys a little bit a little bit different to my own Journey as a regular so what what else

were you doing with with your life at the time being is that probably wasn’t a full-time commitment sure so yeah

actually when I started I was actually living in Coventry as a engineer for jankar cars designing engines but during

my time there I moved to London into the Consulting industry management consulting which meant working with all sorts of

companies on on typically things were either going wrong they wanted help but things right or things were going very

well and they wanted help to know where to spend their money um so those are the two sorts of

assignments that journey into the Royal naval reserves was was quite interesting back then because there there wasn’t a

sort of direct office or entry so actually I went through HMS rally which is the junior rights training place down

in Plymouth and spent two or three years actually what was then called the lower

deck I’m not quite sure if it’s called that now but I’m learning to splice and uh all that sort of stuff

um sort of uh able Seaman as it were before before going doing fleetboard and

and becoming a sort of a operations officer

oh wow yeah that’s quite uh an interesting uh route when you’re having

to go through that um non-direct officer entry route for yeah to go to a role that’s a typical

it’s great it was great fun I mean there were folk in the unit who were sort of able Seaman at their weekends and

barristers in the week you know it’s quite fun oh wow yeah yeah that’s good

that’s going to be quite a mix of people were there any particular things within your time with the Navy Reserves that

that really stood out as um where you where you really learned something or or something that

influenced your life in particular the typical routine would be to go away for perhaps say a couple of weeks but part

of the training I was supposed to do is really understand what it meant to drive a ship around as officer the watch so I

had an opportunity to sort of go off with a ship and and spend several months as proper Partnerships company and we’ve

got my office watch ticket um but but during that time I think it

helped me see the power of teams in in the services but also the need for sort

of self-discipline and self-reliance and you know even today I sort of

credit that experience to some of the perspectives you you bring to say running your own company yeah they’re

really important so uh though those were great those were great experiences early

relatively early in my my career yeah from what I’ve looked at I haven’t started my own company I really tried to

create the environment where people that work in my company build relationships like people in the services build

relationships with each other because they’re incredibly sticky powerful relationships that that last for a

lifetime it’s it’s pretty hard to do but uh if you can if you can make that work then you’re on to onto something really

powerful so you were working for as a Management Consultant nine to five and then uh weekends and a

few holidays you were off being a naval officer yeah yeah that that’s essentially it

um the time was split perhaps between sort of two core activities one one would be

um actually time at Sea um and and you’d be um you know standing watches but

essentially you know sort of trying training on the bridge and and learning sort of Mind Warfare and you know I was

going to say in the field but I’m actually in the sea um and then um and then the other half of the time

is is sort of more sort of book bookish learning as it were off on training courses and

um and drill drill nights where you’re you’re you’re actually sort of just learning the academic side of it so so

it was it was a really nice mix of stuff and um as any military unit it had bits

of adventurous training and other other things going on as well absolutely Cooperative 80 that you want to talk

about thing now I think I I got as far as crowborough but I think some people got

down to Antarctica my favorite one was I had I had a week

on a liverboard yacht in the Red Sea uh doing scuba diving yeah that’s nice that was what what I did manage because I was

doing Office of the watch once I’ve Got My Ticket okay um so if you phone a ship up and go

might I come and join you for a couple of weeks oh by the way I got off the watch ticket what that means is everyone

in the ward room is who’s currently standing watches gets more time in their rack more time in bed because yeah so

you were it was a welcome call yeah exactly so and often ships that were steaming to or from a deployment would

be a bit short short-handed because some people were flown out or floating flying in so so so I did pick up a once at

Plymouth and and go to the Caribbean that was heading to be West Indies guard chip and again joined a ship um in

Singapore coming back from the Hong Kong Handover and steamed all the way back from from there so so so uh yeah I managed it

wasn’t formally adventurous training but I managed some pretty good some pretty good trips yeah and so what made you

want to leave the um that’s interesting I didn’t want to leave actually I was I really enjoyed it in fact

it it fundamentally influenced how how I thought about what I did next I suppose

um I think I got to a point in I was 30 years old where I noticed I didn’t much enjoy my day job I was good at it but I

didn’t much enjoy it yeah but I really enjoyed what I did with the with the Navy and I think it was something about

that higher purpose um in the Navy so I I sort of looked around at what

else I might do as my day job um and that led me to sort of a career

in the Civil Service um and uh and and so I joined the foreign

office um but I was sort of serving around uh sort of National Security agenda stuff

and and actually under the legislation um the foreign foreign office has the

right not to release you um on the reserve surface so although although so the government

stops you helping the government well the the government’s very supportive actually and and would support you being

in the reserve forces but sort of I I knew that there actually only I think six of us trained to do the role that I

would do and it didn’t seem right to be sitting on one of those seats so so I I I I I left but I’ve stayed

very much in touch with the the unit and all my friends there and we still see a lot of each other and and

um that’s nice yeah it’s nice actually to hear that you get the similar thing from the reserves as you’re doing the regulars that you know you form that

group of friends and then you can’t bloody get rid of them I know and it’s so fabulous it’s just fabulous you’re always helping each other out and you

know there’s always someone in the network who knows something about your problem you’ve got yeah yeah oh

fantastic so then um the job in the foreign office did that did that bear much semblance to uh

to anything you’ve done in in the military or was that a completely new challenge it’s a new challenge but I

think some of those skills and things you pick up in the military are very applicable wherever you go so

um you know sort of the the teamwork and self-discipline and communication skills and all that sort of stuff is directly

transferable so and It ultimately is also public service so so a lot was quite familiar yeah yeah

um they uh they weren’t quite the sort of drafting officer in terms of what job you did next but it wasn’t far from it

so yeah he understood how things worked that when we first met and we’re having

a beer you uh you told me a story about uh when the pandemic had kicked off oh

yes um and having an idea so yeah you wouldn’t mind uh retelling that story that would be quite cool

sure okay yeah so I mean this this is how I sort of came to leave leave the foreign office and end up being a med

tech entrepreneur um which was not part of my plan I I was I was really enjoying what I did it was

fascinating I kind of imagined I’d do it till I retire um but then um pandemic came along and essentially

at the time the pandemic was brewing sort of it was still a sort of really in China maybe in North Italy a little bit

uh uh I I was in a I was in a role which meant I I knew knew a bit about the

legislation around tracking and stuff like that and it led me to have sort of the idea that you might be able to track

the virus down with phones and I’m not the only person to have had this idea but I suppose I was a senior civil

servant at this point so he was actually able to reach people who mattered and said that there may be something possible here

um when we kicked that around for a small number of days and then um realized actually that this was a

credible way of potentially tracking down the virus and and that became what we call digital contact racing

um and uh so I was seconded at very short notice over to the Department of Health

um teamed up with a fabulous Public Health Doctor um and and then I found myself working

uh sort of to build the NHS covid-19 app um and that’s what that’s what I spent

the first half of 20 uh 2020 wasn’t it so I was doing first half of 2020.

and and so in a matter of days gone from having an idea that you you mentioned to

some of the right people to being seconded to the Department of Health

yeah be careful what I do as you mentioned

quit creating something uh an Innovative brand new yeah so that that was but I in

a way actually there was some military crossover here actually because you know it’s sort of Public Health is

not really like a military campaign but if you imagine with a pandemic bearing down on you

um you you know you’ve got to move really fast and mobilize really quickly and and sort of on the day that we

decided that this was probably a good idea to try and build something like this there was nothing

you know there was no team there was no nowhere to work there was none so so so

that process of mobilizing um you know it’s you know I found myself leaning back on some of those some of

those military skills and indeed as we came to deploy the app I found myself doing the same again in fact actually

went out and found some folk from the logistics Corps to help us because we needed to run what was essentially an

Ops room if you imagine you know we’re launching a novel technology on an unsuspecting population in in in very

uncertain sets of circumstances so so you can we had this big old space in the

NHS headquarters which was you know some of it was the app some of it was cool center someone was press and

media some of it was sort of policy some of it was Logistics you know and you can imagine with almost little Flags

sticking up above each team so that everyone who who was doing what it was quite fun but that was all put together

by my folk from uh from the military who stepped in to help and you were leading

that I was cold I was the I was the deputy um this is a civil service speak but

senior responsible owner right so so the the public health doctor was

the the the senior responsible owner and I was his step two and we did it

together and so then going through that process

uh LED you then to yeah to to your entrepreneurial moments

yeah so um building a serious app usually takes like 10 months minimum

um we we built this thing from that first meeting um it’s ten and a half weeks

um and we put it it went live on the Isle of Wight on May the 5th 2020.

um and and we were really pleased with what happened the the disease on the

Isle of Wight covid um almost disappeared over the next three weeks

um and that that was that was quite a result because the product was very much so still prototype

um so so we were really pleased with that um there there was there was some real

difficulties with some of the engineering you’re trying you’re trying to drive bits of phones in ways they

weren’t intended to be driven um and at the same time uh Apple were offering an alternative uh approach to

that so it’s a really difficult decision to be made um and the decision was to go with the the Apple stuff

um in uh you know as the time went by and you can see the the Apple thing didn’t

perform as well as the the original one on the Isle of Wight um and as that became visible over the

next year a few of us thought you know what actually that’s quite an important thing um because it’s not just covered you

know this this is a technique that would work for any pathogen um so what you’re actually talking about

here is imagining a world that could be largely free of communicable disease which is quite a big thing to say that

yeah um and we thought we might have accidentally tripped over something that could do that

in those crazy 10 and a half weeks yeah uh so so maybe we should go back and and

have a proper go at that so so a group of us quit our safe jobs and decided to

go go and do that that was quite a good conversation with my wife that one yeah yeah I’m sure she was over the moon

um so let’s talk about the the Journey of that so um so it was a few other people that

were involved in the uh the original project yes yes there’s a few of us who

want to take it forwards and um and we had quietly worked to to

resolve some of the engineering challenges in in the intervening year um so so we knew that some of the things

that um looked looked like challenging problems were now solved

um uh so I I was the one who decided to sort of um I suppose start the mobilization

put in my notice office was very supportive of that

um you could see what I wanted to go and do even if it was a bit of a surprise and off I went and started it and then and

then the first job as a Founder I think is probably to put a really good team around you because it’s you know it’s

pretty challenging yep but if you if you’ve got a vision you really believe in and you’ve got a great team around

you um actually it makes the journey a lot easier so so I sort of set about finding people who could help me on that

um and and I’d left to start a technical a tech startup but without a tech person

I mean I’m an engineer but I’m not a digital Tech person yeah so that was the

first order of the day was to go and find go and find uh someone who could be my co-founder yeah which I’ve you know I

spoke to a lot of people and I found I found someone who who shared the vision and and had the sort of the same well I

had the technical capability to to bring that to reality so that was how the sort of the team started

and we grew from there and then uh so you’ve just been through your first round of funding

yeah it took us a while because we um we took a time to work out which Market to get into so and then and then you can’t

really raise funding unless you’ve got a clear plan so there’s quite a bit of time you need to put aside to get a plan

together yeah and then once we got the plan we sort of went looking for funding for it um and so now we’ve it’s a modest

funding round but it will get us through the next year um and you know what we’re doing with

that money is basically taking our prototype which we’ve built um turning it into a proper product and then taking

that to um Manchester in chess Trust and gonna try out in in one of their departments

there and so uh what what would that what will that trial look like you’ll be trying to

um we’ll put the uh so if paint a picture for people um what we’re essentially doing is

putting a very accurate tracker on people in hospitals so if you’re a staff member

um what we do is we put a little bit of extra electronics in the back of the pass carrier yeah the thing you have around your neck yeah and if you’re a

patient you you have that little like plastic band goes around your wrist yeah and we’ve got a little tag that goes on

on that and essentially what that means is is we we can keep track of all the opportunities that pathogens might have

to jump between us in all the ways they do that yeah all of the time for everybody we don’t look at

that we just file it but then when you do have someone who falls ill

um you can put their name in the the web app if you like put it in the name in the top of the screen

and and then the system instantly goes and looks at who else might have picked it up

um throws out a list and throws out a list which is tell these people not to yeah not to go near anyone it is it’s

what hospitals try and do anyway you know but they do it manually and you can see the problem with that you know

you’re hugely busy people you’re trying to remember where you were two days ago and who you saw

um yeah it’s yeah yeah it’s it’s just a bit of a difficult thing so yeah so

that’s you know that’s what it would look like is as a department with people actually carrying the kit and trying it

out and so then that that is that like the the first phase of it that it will

become a within hospitals yeah I mean I mean the idea is if if it works as we

expect it’ll work you’d want it across the whole Hospital yeah we would we could dive into some of the interesting

Science and Tech but one of the things is we don’t actually know that much about how pathogens spread

um and and the reason is it’s very hard to measure in the wild you know without a technology like the thing we’ve built

which is the first yeah you can’t measure it in the wild and and measuring it in controlled circumstances is really

difficult because the definition of a pathogen is it’s harmful to humans so you can imagine the conversation you

know Nick I’d like to infect you with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and

see how long it takes for you to become contagious

so oddly enough you don’t see many you don’t see many many experiments there

was one on covid actually but it took two years it took two years to plan it and that’s so in the face of a Major

World Health Emergency to touch on the slow side yeah it’s touched touch slow um but but the tech we’re building would

would measure that pretty instantly and so then would you take the data that you gather and uh allow people to conduct

studies on that sort of anonymized data yeah yeah you you

um yeah you can pseudo anonymize or fully anonymize it

um and and you can conduct all I mean it will open up a huge number of research avenues that are unavailable at the

moment um plus solve I mean this is a big problem in the NHS 20 of beds in the NHS

are occupied by people who should have gone home but have caught uh Hospital acquired infection

wow that’s not saying 20 of people catch it but if you do catch one of these you tend to overstay by quite a long time

right that’s quite a high number that’s a much higher number than I would have ever seen so so in terms of the you know

when it’s very topical with waiting lists and all the rest of it if we can make a dent in this problem we can we

can really do something important there yeah so then the investment in the technology then pays back many times if

every NHS trust is then reducing the amount of time that any patients stay yeah and and you imagine you you know

the hospital also has the direct costs if someone if someone Falls ill you then got to treat them so you’re putting

expensive drugs and drips and PPE and all that stuff is being spent

you know not to replace the hip but now to try and cure them with the the bug so if we stop that happening the hospital

saves money instantly so it’s not one of these who invest now when you get it back over the next five

years it’s you you put it in you start it it gets the bottom line straight away it goes straight to the bottom line yeah

that’s incredible yeah well thank you yeah well we’ll tell you if it works

yeah yeah it’s incredible if it works yeah that’s right I mean well it’s one

of the things I don’t know you’re a technical guy in in life you know the science and the engineering what can all

stack up but until you actually try it in the real world yeah you know there’s always there’s

always something you haven’t thought of so so it would be brilliant to try it and so when does that start well we hope

in April yeah there’s quite a lot of paperwork to do before you can muck around in hospital

turns out I mean quite reasonably really and so then how long will you be running

that for oh well we’ll one again because there’s relatively little

knowledge in this area one of one of the challenges is we don’t know how long we’ll need to run it for to see enough

disease to work out whether it works So the plan is we we think it will take a couple of months

um but we’re giving ourselves another another two or three months so it can run on if we don’t see enough

pathogen action in the first couple of months yeah yeah so that sort of times go

yeah wow yeah that’s really interesting yeah so then the the journey approxima so you’re gonna are you gonna share that

publicly anywhere as you go along uh I think yeah I think we will I think we

um you know we got our heads down at the moment um building the product working with some really Diamond folk in the NHS to

try it out but but you know once once we once we’ve tried it and Got Confidence

then yeah of course we’ll want to we’ll want to tell people about it um but it’s been quite an interesting

Journey actually going from from institutionalized foreign office deputy

director to sort of Standalone entrepreneur yeah

um and I mean if I could I could talk a bit about the surprises I’m just thinking of your

your listeners have probably you know coming out of the military going to something else that’s uh you know that

that for me that’s the pivot point in my life was going from this big institution to this I mean definitely stepped out of

your comfort zone yeah it was uh I didn’t realize it quite so much that as I took the step but but I I worked out

quite quickly that I knew I needed to sort of learn if well I needed to learn some new skills

there was a lot of skills that should continue to be applicable but um you know it was just it was just very

striking for example um when you’re in a big organization

quite a lot of your time is actually organized for you yeah you know you know it’s like right you know someone else

has set this program and you’ve got a part to doing it and so you need to turn up and do your bit sort of thing when

you when you sort of step out and try my own company all the time is for you to

work out what to do with it um so I sort of I kind of had to work out how to organize my own

sort of work pattern and and learn some stuff about myself as I did that like I’m really good in the

mornings and I’m really rubbish about four o’clock um

I’ll have another swinger too yeah so um you know so so I now in my diary I

try and do my what I call my focus work yeah you know if I’ve got something I want to spend an hour thinking hard

about I’ll try and I’ll put it in my diary an appointment with myself

I block chunks of time out in my calendar for specific activities yeah

um it’s uh it was it was a weird one when I was starting my own company because I

thought well actually you know it’s new there’ll be no customers once we’ve sort

of set the initial systems up I’d actually have have quite a lot of time and um then the more I learned the more

I realized I didn’t know and that I had to go and learn and then all of a sudden I had no time because I discovered there

were lots and lots and lots of things that I didn’t know uh that all of a sudden I I’d got to go and find out

about um and that there should there were things that I should be doing that I

didn’t know I should be doing because I hadn’t learned the things yet I know what they are you know what you can’t do stuff you don’t know about

um I think that was one of the other things I I found I learned quite quickly

was when you’re in the big organization and you need to work something out there’s usually someone in the

organization who knows something about it you can go and talk to them about it yeah um whereas on you and you’re on your own you have to build that Network

yourself um I mean we met at one of those you know sort of going going to places and

meeting nice people um and you’ve got no idea but you know in eight months time you run snap

banging to some problem and you think oh hang on I met someone who knew something about that and and and and and having

you know you’ve got to build out that Network to help you solve problems basically and um yeah and and and and

that was a good early investment as I started this journey realizing there was a load of stuff I didn’t know anything

about I needed to yeah it’s uh it’s it’s interesting having your eyes opened when

you you didn’t think they were particularly close and um yeah yeah uh I

yeah I never realized there was so much to something that on paper sounds as simple as sales and marketing but

yeah there was a lot for me to learn though that was the big gap for me yeah

I think I I I just I just strongly second that Nick I think I’ve noticed

something else as well which is um in my old world if if there was something I didn’t quite know you sort

of knew that there was a team around you and someone else probably did it and and whereas now if you notice the moment

when you kind of think I mean it could be something there was one this morning uh an insurance policy and it was a word

in it of long complicated word and I can’t remember what it was now but I don’t know what it means and and you just notice these things and and you

stop yourself at that point and go and look it up because because you just can’t afford to

have that sort of stuff um and it matters more when it’s your organization yeah whereas like working for someone else

you might have been it’s probably okay yeah and but then there’s also there’s a

delightful experience as well which is so you know we have to mount a a clinical trial

um and actually um it’s not a clinical trial because trial is medicine yeah um if you’ve got

a medical device it’s called a clinical investigation so so the fact I’ve been walking around for six months saying I’m

going to do a clinical trial [Laughter] show is a perfect example of you don’t

know what you don’t know yeah so so um we again in this effort to avoid falling off cliffs

um we’ve assembled a a very very cool group of people we call our advisory

committee yeah and their their job is to sort of tell us the cliff is ahead of us and so they listen to our plan and they

say oh if you’re done planning that you might want to think about this yeah so so we saw them three months ago and

um and they said uh yeah you you really don’t need you really don’t know enough enough about uh clinical investigations

and you need to you need to get up that curve so I’ve been hunting for someone who really knows their stuff and and

it’s been sort of a journey but you know there’s this beautiful moment when you find someone who really really knows it

and can help you um even if even if they need to charge you for it but so so I

feel over the last week or two I’ve had sort of what I think of as sort of like Matrix moment you know that bit where they upload so I’ve just been spending

like a day and a half with this person just sucking in the knowledge yeah it’s an

interesting process when you uh you found something that you need to know about that you don’t know about and you

you need to find a person yeah um because yeah then finding the person and then actually trying to validate

or do they really know it or are they just telling me a story

um and that’s uh that that’s a daunting process and um I’m not sure how you went but when

when I’ve done it I’ve I’ve often gone on gut uh all right does this person

like seem genuine and uh do it do I feel comfortable with them uh or do I need to

do further research and um it’s worked both ways uh so I’ve worked I spoke to

someone who seemed very genuine and trustworthy um and they were nowhere near the level

that they claimed which was uncomfortable but then I’ve had the the same experience I’ve had the opposite

experience where I’ve I’ve gone on fans on one to help and they’ve seemed lovely and

um they’ve been brilliant which then leaves me with the fact that well my my

methodology seems a bit like that of a toying class

sort of yeah your gut takes you a long way I I I

think and and you’ve got to learn to listen to that emotion if there’s something bothering you there’s probably

a problem somewhere and you’ve got you know you might not know what the problem is but you need to you need to go digging

um I I guess I I have a more slightly more trust and verify sort of view of the world with

your background it’s kind of to be expected so yeah I’ll I want to go and

take second opinions and take cross bearings on on things I guess you’re talking about things a slightly more a

slightly higher impact rather than you know me talking about a particular

subsection of marketing or SEO well I’m not I mean I think I mean I mean part of

the issue is you know there are there are things out there that can kill a startup

um running out of money yeah well yeah running out of money you know actually kind of mucking mucking a trial up so

you can’t actually get any evidence out of it with you know sort of things like that so so I think those are probably

different for all sorts of startups you know if if if if if you’re a marketing director people marketing is really

important yeah you know yeah yeah yeah for us for us it’s we’re not at that

stage yet um so so I think trying to work out what what are the killer issues and making

you know try and find cross bearings yes but then it’s the the difficult balance between momentum and uh and over

analyzing something and um I I try to go down the

um make the decision quickly um I have some sort of expected outcome

that you can measure it against and if it’s not moving quickly towards that outcome then stop yeah go and look again

yeah so that’s that’s very sensible um yeah I’m quite a believer in trying

to make quicker decisions uh including the decision to say that last decision

was wrong yeah let’s well I think that’s another that’s another that’s another thing that the

military training teaches really well is you know it inaction is usually the not

a good course of action yeah so do do something but be willing to reassess

yeah so what’s the average day like at the moment with uh it can vary hugely so

um uh I’ll I’ll pick out some different days if you like um so there was uh

you know there’s there’s sort of great days when you kind of meet a new Ally I

think you know because you’re going along you’ve got a vision you’re trying to get there and you need all sorts of help and you’re speaking to a lot of

people and it could be investors or it could be potential partners for research or it could be someone you know a gap in

your team and and a great day is when you find someone and and there’s that sort of

um that sort of Click you know they they get what you’re trying to achieve and they like it

you know they’re they’re in a place in life where it fits with with with what they what they’re trying to achieve and

and you can see how they fit in so so you kind of get sort of really good days

where you kind of find that that sort of you know a new ally is fantastic

um then you find yourself just doing things you never thought you’d be doing um so there is a there is a there is an

organization called the infection prevention Society of course there is

um it’s a fantastic organization it’s everyone sort of across the NHS who Who’s involved in that are mostly

members so thinking either specialist infection prevention control nurses or general nurses who

have a specialism in infection prevention control um quite a lot of companies who make

detergents or wipes or paper towels or whatever or cleaning robots

um so there’s this there’s this great society and they’re very active but they have their annual conference

and um this the last years was in Bournemouth and they hadn’t had one for three years

because of covid and of course these these are the people who are on the utter Frontline are covered yeah yeah

and they haven’t seen each other for a long time and and we went to Bournemouth

and then there was the gala night dinner so it was just fantastic to sort of just

see this community letting their hair down properly after the awful three years behind us

um but it was amazing yeah just just sort of being in this totally different environment and um hearing all the the

the presentations were sort of complicated science stuff um but meeting meeting the people in

that Community was was very different um I mean investor pitches that’s a funny

thing you’ve done a few yeah and that’s uh

incredibly uncomfortable the first time you you go and effectively say to someone I’ve had an idea would you like

to give me some money to bring it to life I know and you do you end up doing quite a few um so

um so they’re sort of this interesting sort of set piece type almost performance art kind of bit of the bit

of the role um and then and then you have other days which you you know basically it’s you and the cat at home

um you know fighting for the warm spot by the fire um

and and sort of just just doing admin or thinky thinky tasks and pushing them

forward so so I think one of the joys of it actually is it’s really varied so

if you uh to give a piece of advice to someone who was coming to the end of a military career yeah

um and looking to take their next step from that very structured to

well to whatever whatever they choose to do what would that be I think there’s a

couple of things what one would be not to rush things actually

um I think there’s a process you’d need to go on um where as you come out of a sort of

one existence and into another um you kind of need need to you know work work out what you’re really good at

and what you really enjoy who you know how you’re going to present yourself to the world go go and look at the

different opportunities that may be out there you know reflect on that and and I

do see you know I see colleagues coming out of the foreign office and that sort of environment you know who is sort of a

really desperate to get a you know sort of this lack of security I suppose you know sort of I want to get a job you

know and I think trust that you will you’ve got a really good set of skills you know but you know take the time to

make sure you get it right I suppose this would be one one bit of advice you know make sure you you’ve

allowed yourself a bit of decompression time thinking time and then hunting time

um and just recognize as well just talk to a few people ahead of you and recognize that you really do have

seriously marketable skills and that you are going to get a really interesting job at some point

take that as a bit of an Article of Faith go and check with some friends who are ahead of you but that that is that

is that is genuinely true and and and try not to let the anxiety of it

all get get too much to you if anyone who’s listening to or watched this uh today wants to find out more or follow

the the progress of proximos how can they do that cranky uh well we have a website so you can hop on there and um

there’s a little newsletter sign up um uh which which there’s quite a few people on now

um and then and then you’ll get a little update email from me occasionally saying saying how we’re doing

um and and if if the trial goes well hopefully you’ll you’ll see us later this year I’m making a bit of noise

about it fantastic I’d say it sounds really cool and uh thank you very much for your time

today it’s been really good it’s been a real pleasure and uh thank you thanks for the opportunity it’s great thanks very much thanks for listening I sure

will agree the stories from the guests on the show are incredible starting your own company is an incredibly Brave and difficult thing to do and there’s a

theme of resilience through all these stories which is key to success as an entrepreneur if you’re a veteran with a

good story to tell we’d love to have you on if you’re leaving the military and you want to get in touch email podcast if you run a business and you’re looking for an I.T company that’s entrepreneurial and

forward thinking please do get in touch I hope you enjoy the rest of the series

[Music] foreign

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