November 5, 2021
Driven by Mission. Setting the Tone from the Top - Gary Hughes
CEO & Co-FounderTeckro
A company is only as good as its people. Mission, values and motivation all start from the top, inspiring confidence with employees and creating a strong sense of purpose.
Teckro CEO Gary Hughes is our guest on the podcast today to discuss operating for the greater good and what it means to be a mission-driven company in the 21st Century. We also cover keeping distributed teams connected and engaged, why no one should do a job they don’t enjoy, and top tips from Gary on staying focused.
This episode coincides with the launch of the Totally Clinical: Trial Triumphs & Rad Trends podcast available on Spotify, Apple, and Google.
“To support bringing new medicines to parts of the world where research wouldn’t traditionally be conducted is hugely rewarding in itself.”
Hello and welcome to the Totally Clinical podcast brought to you by tech guru, Totally Clinical is a deep dive into the freshest trends, big time challenges and most excellent triumphs of clinical trials. I'm Hannah, your host. Join me as I chat with industry experts, trailblazers, thought leaders and, most importantly, the people benefiting from clinical research. So tune in, settle back and don't touch that dial.
It's time to get Totally Clinical. At the core of every successful company is a motivated CEO who can equally motivate others today on totally clinicals, very special launch day. We have a very special guest. Yes, it's Gary Hughes, tech guru CEO, who joins me to talk about the importance of rock solid values at a mission driven company like tomorrow.
Welcome, Gary. Thanks, IRA. It's good to be here. Now, it said that company culture is shaped from the top as tech Growth CEO.
How have you approached building a sense of purpose among team members? I think the nature of clinical trials and the industry we work in makes it somewhat easier. And I often say to people when they're joining Tyco, and it's the way I feel about it myself. There aren't too many industries where you have the opportunity to work on products that are going to impact the lives of millions of people around the world who you will never meet, but also impact them in ways that you just can't possibly imagine.
So if you think about somebody who's unfortunate enough to have a cancer diagnosis or other conditions where there's an unmet medical need to be able to bring or facilitate the development of new medicines or support bringing those medicines to parts of the world where research wouldn't traditionally be conducted. That is hugely rewarding in itself, and I think for anybody joining tetro, we do talk a lot about this. The nature of the industry, the platform we're building, the people we're engaging and the reach that it has and the impact it has on so many people and their families around the world.
So that makes it a little bit easier, I guess, when you start from there. So these days, financial reward isn't enough for many job seekers. They really want to contribute to the greater good as a CEO with years of experience leading teams. Why do you think this is so important to so many in the current era?
Yeah, it's a great question. I think part of it is just to there's so much choice for anybody entering the workforce today or anybody in the workforce today. If you look at whether you're in San Francisco or you're in Dublin or London or Berlin, the number of startups, just the transformation that's happening in industries around the world, the digitalization that's happening, there are so many career opportunities open to people. And so if all you're interested in doing is writing code and we really care about the price you're working on.
Then there's lots of jobs out there. But I think what people are finding more and more when you go work in a large software company as well established or whether you come and join an early stage startup or scaling company, whatever, the thing that really stands out are the companies that are truly trying to make an impact in the world. And by that, I mean really changed the trajectory of an industry. And you can't ignore companies like that.
They always rise up. They always have a profound impact on the industry that they operate in. And you can think about it in terms of look at the shift that's happened in electric vehicles where every major manufacturer now is scrambling to catch up or keep up with what Tesla started many, many years ago. And that's just a simple example I think that everybody gets.
But you know, when you do something completely new to almost go back to first principles to really set out to have a positive impact on the world with the products you're building or the platform you're building that goes beyond just getting a job that pays a salary that pays the rent or whatever the case might be. And I think that's attractive to people and coming back to what we started with. You know, there's just so much choice today. There are so many startups that wasn't the case 20, 30 years ago.
It is today. And I think beyond the job and the challenges of the particular role you're performing, it's knowing you're doing something that's going to have a significant impact on the world and change the course or the future of a particular industry. That's exciting And who wouldn't want to be part of that? So building a brand with strong values isn't just about employees, it's also about partners and investors.
What qualities do you primarily look for when choosing who to work with? Somebody said to me somebody who I really trust and almost look to as a mentor. I made a very good point and said, when you're raising money, people get obsessed about the numbers and the valuations and the amount you're raising and all of these things. And that's not to say they're not important, but really what's more important is when the funding round is complete, when the dust has settled on the legals and all of that has been put to bed, so to speak.
What's really important is who is sitting around the table, you know, who are you going to be building this company with going forward? And you want to have people who aren't going to be rattled at the first bump in the road aren't going to get overly excited. You want to have levelheaded people who know what it takes to build great companies who've seen it done before, who can share that knowledge and that wisdom with you, who know when to give you some sort of encouragement, but also are willing. I know when it is time to give you a.
Give you a push. And I think that's probably the most important thing I've learned is just, you know, look around the table who's sitting around the table with you and whether it's the management team, whether it's the board, whether it's your investors, not just what. I want to go for a beer with these people, but really, can I build a great company with these people? Lockdowns have proved a challenge for businesses worldwide as teams had to adapt to working offline, seemingly overnight.
How did you build morale and keep a team motivated during the pandemic? And what are your learnings from this? Yeah, I think from the start, I think what was important to us as a management team, the leadership team was really one to just ensure that we were going to maintain full employment, that we were going to continue as much as we could to build a business. We weren't looking to cut 20% of the headcount or cut back on spending so that we would have more money to write out whatever we thought the pandemic might become or however long it would last for.
So that was very important, and I think that set the tone from day one. Look, this company is about people. It's important that we're doing the right thing by everybody in the company, and we continue to build a great company. That was the message we set out pretty much on day one.
After that, it was really about communication, and it was just making sure everybody could adjust to the new normal, you know, getting people set up at home. All of those type of things that just logistical things that had to happen. And then it was really just ramping communications that would typically have happened anyway in our company, but just turning up the dial on that. So we were doing it more frequently, more often.
We're becoming much more transparent in the information we were sharing. Was there anything you specifically did that stands out in your mind in terms of changing the way you operated after moving the team offline? Personally, I took it on to kind of, you know, have AI guess, a company called not so much a town hall, but really a company called at least every two weeks, so usually on a Friday afternoon. And that was really just to give people an update on what we were doing around the pandemic.
You know, just return to work type stuff that might be going on. We had our chief medical officer just kind of update people on vaccines and what was going on. We talked about the business, we talked about customers. We celebrate some successes.
We did lots and lots of things like that. But we really, I guess to sum it up, in one way, we really just turned up the dial on communication and really tried to create those connections that we probably take for granted in an in-person setting or in an office setting. So we continue to grow the business throughout the past 18 months. We scale the business.
We've brought on new customers. We've hired a lot of new people, even I've hired a lot of people onto my team who I've never met in person. It's only ever been over Zoom or over teams and over the telephone. So that's been different and unusual.
But it's worked. I think it's worked because we've been very transparent and open. There's been a lot of debate in the media about the future of remote working. What are your thoughts on this?
For us, it's worked out very well. I think we've seen pretty much all of our teams be successful working remote. And I see no reason why that can't continue. We already have a distributed workforce.
We've got offices in multiple cities in the US and in Europe. So I guess we'd already adjusted to not having everybody in one physical building, but I think I've been really amazed and impressed by the performance of the team, how well people have adapted to remote working. I guess it's probably easier in some ways when everybody's remote, it might be a little bit different. If all of your team are or in the office and you're the only person working from home, you might feel a little bit less connected to what's going on.
But the fact that we're all remote has worked really well for us as a business. We are seeing people come back to work, but again, it's more people are coming in for a couple of days when I think maybe they just need a break from their house or to get away from their domestic life. I get a little bit of your headspace in that regard, but also I think when it makes sense to be in an office, if you do need to interact with a team, you know that's there as well. But I don't see why we can't continue to support remote working.
I think it's proved very successful for us as a business. I don't see why we would change that going forward. I think we will leave it open to our team to decide how often they want to be back in a physical location in one of our offices. But I think you could do both going forward.
So I think it's been one of the great successes. Or, I should say, one of the great outcomes of COVID as being that shift to greater flexibility for people to work where and how it suits them. Definitely and a lot of people seem to really like it as well, or a hybrid way of working as well. So just before we go as tech CEO, you need to stay focused.
Do you have any quick tips on how to keep on track? I think it's important to have things outside of work. I think that's the danger with working at home that you get consumed by the work, the lap. The desktop is always open in front of you, you're always responding to questions or you're always engaged with the work.
So I think it's important to have something that just takes you away, even if it isn't your garden or to the local gym and things like that. And the other thing I'm laughing too myself here, but it's really just drink a lot of water. I think it's important to stay hydrated, to stay refreshed, to stay energized. It's easy to reach for a cup of coffee or whatever.
It's easy to not eat well. It's easy to become the proverbial couch potato sitting in front of your computer. It's for your own sort of being. It's having those moments that just take you away from work when you're at home.
And I think when you do that, that when you do come back to work, you are you are much more focused. And I think it is. It's just a combination of things eat well, drink lots of water, take good breaks and then, you know, this is an obvious thing, but you've got to enjoy what you're doing. You know, if you're not enjoying your job, you may be in the wrong company and you may be doing the wrong thing.
And I think for people, you know, we only get to do so many things in our life. And it's important you pick things that truly engage you, that you get enjoyment out of. And I think that combination of things, that's what gives you focus. That's what gives you energy.
That's what gives you the drive to go on when many times the odds are stacked against you. And that's your dose of Totally Clinical. Thank you, Gary, for chatting with me on our launch day and for all the listeners out there. You can follow her on Twitter.
The handle is tech, her official LinkedIn and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And, of course, download the Totally Clinical podcast on apple, Spotify and Google. See you on your next visit and remember to bring your friends. Thanks for listening!
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