Entrepreneur

How and Why I lecture people

I lecture people in university… which is hilarious, given that my own experience of school was a tad….rocky. Hehe.

BNU Business and Law School focus on business and law related teaching, research and professional programmes for students and industry

BNU Business and Law School focus on business and law related teaching, research and professional programmes for students and industry. I have been a guest lecturer for the last 3 years, and I love seeing the students “wake up” from when they first slouch in, slump down and lean back with crossed arms….. to in the end when they are engaged, asking LOADS of questions , smiling and nodding.

I tell them that from now on, they are on their own. They ALONE are responsible for what happens to them. They are IN CHARGE of where they are going from here, and nobody will spoon feed them anything anymore. Gone are the days of “group assignments” and “class tests”.

“From now on….you are flying solo.”

Some of them love it. Some look concerned. Some terrified. But ALL of them think about what I said.

And I LOVE watching the growing realisation of being in charge of your own future.

What awards mean to me

Awards mean nothing if you have to celebrate alone

Allergan Award For Excellence….
(BUT I am most proud of the team I inherited and built, since I was told to I should fire half but instead we grew it into an envied and effective unit, build on individual strengths and cohesive collaboration.)

AMS Award….
(But I am most proud of how the team managed to take our Women’s Health portfolio to market leadership in all the major markets, and how well we worked together with the countries and our customers to lead during challenging times)

Best New Business Award 2015…
(But I am most proud of how we have managed to keep our staff healthy and happy, and how we have managed to serve our customers globally during the pandemic.)

UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2017….
(But I am most proud of how my team has trusted me, in crisis after crisis, to keep us safe, do the right thing, steer us through the unchartered waters and come out as winners on the other side.)

UK CEO of the Year 2021….
(But I am most proud of the comment I got from a customer in the UK, a surgeons whom I have known for a long time who said “your personal trademark is ‘ethical success”. Best compliment ever from a surgeon to someone in industry.)

The Queens Award for Enterprise: INNOVATION 2021….
(but I am most proud of how I, an immigrant, have been able to show my children that no matter where you come from and what background you have, good things come to those who stay focused, work hard and stick to what they are good at.)

My Dream-Me is pretty harsh…

Angela Spang

I have embarked on the daunting journey of writing a book….or three, more accurately. Apparently I have a lot to say (who knew)…

I have always been a fan of objective viewing of self, as we tend to be either overly critical or alternatively not clear on our strengths and how we should manage them in relation to other people (and their potential shortcomings in the same area), but I have to say that I am taking it to a new level now!

The other day I woke up in the middle of a dream, and clearly the book writing challenge has made quite an impact — I am obviously pretty occupied with the idea since I was actually DREAMING about it. This is slightly concerning since I haven’t actually written a SINGLE word yet! I am worried what is to come.

Stick to Twitter

Dream-Me

I woke up offended.

My Dream-Me was telling my real me to “stick to Twitter”. Ouch. I am all for straight communication, but that is HARSH feedback to someone who hasn’t even started writing yet! Clearly Dream-Me is not wasting any time! She isn’t wrong though: I have said for years that I like Twitter — the limitation of characters is a challenge and a blessing — better be succinct and not waffle. I have seen the same tendencies in myself when it comes to writing: I struggle with filling in long blank spaces in applications for funding or similar (maybe that’s why I never applied for anything apart from an epic double failure in a Horizon2020 application a couple of years back where the second attempt was actually scored WORSE than the FIRST one. I gave up after that.).

Realise when you are not the best person for the job

One of my strengths as a leader is to put the right person in the right place. I match make well between people and roles, and sometimes I see futures for people that they may have not realised themselves. This strength is useful here….I have absolutely no plans to become a writer. Just because I have STORIES to tell doesn’t make me a writer…those are different things. People who believe that authors should only write their own stories or you aren’t a real author if you don’t do the actual writing yourself haven’t thought long enough about it, imho.

After all, Authors have editors, illustrators, designers….and they use computers 😉

I will have a writing partner

She will take the jumbled words, the blurry memories, the ugly and unsaid, the beauty and the magic…and she will use her skill and talent to turn my secrets and my scars into something that we can all learn from. I will have to trust her; I know it will require me to be brave. I will tell her things I have never told anyone, and I am already scared.

Maybe that is why my Dream-Me is saying stick to Twitter. She is not wrong.

Will you read my books?

10 Things To DO for Entrepreneurs while in LockDown

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mr Benji Dhillon, Cosmetic Surgeon and successful clinic owner in Beaconsfield, England. It was the first time I had done an Insta Live interview, and it was both simple and fun.

Dr Benji Dhillon

We spoke about my current work to source PPE for healthcare workers, the work I have been doing to help build ventilators in the UK, as well as some practical things that entrepreneurs and business owners CAN do during this difficult time for companies.

During the Live Streaming, there were many requests for me to repeat the list, so instead of going back, we agreed that I would write them down and share them, which we did.

Here they are for you as well, should you wish to spend some time using this period to get some of that stuff done that we never ever seem to get around to!

If you have other suggestions, please share in the comments — I am almost done with the list (Including the last one, believe it or not!) so need some ideas!

  1. Rearrange Dropbox/SharePoint/computer folders
  2. Cleaning up Customer lists
  3. Preparing new launch plans
  4. Write Blog posts for the rest of the year
  5. Clean up Social Media history
  6. …..

Here is the whole list from 1 to 10 of practical things you can do from the sofa in your house to make sure your business comes back better and stronger when this whole things blows over: LockDown TO DO for Busy Entrepreneurs

Stay Safe,  

Summarize me and JUNE: Attempt 1

I have tried to summarize me in a few words for the Goldman Sachs 10k I am just about to embark on. How do you think I did?

Here is what I wrote:

Making healthcare better for the women and girls you love.

Multi award-winning innovator and serial entrepreneur. (thats from LinkedIn, true but braggy sounding on here.)

I don’t like Brexit

I am Swedish, living in the UK since 12 years, still struggling to not translate and try to explain swedish expressions (eg “There is no danger on the roof”) during business conversations.

Useless education

Trained ballerina, rocks parallel parking but can’t cook. Once burnt boiling eggs.

It’s complicated

Like talking strategy, change and people. Enthusiastic introvert who has to do the hakka before networking. Residential will take all my energy, but I am really looking forward to learning from everyone on the programme.

JUNE Medical

June was a code name from the beginning, but it got stuck so I kept it. We focus on surgical women’s health, anything that is in the operating theatre and give women the opportunity to get back on their feet faster, back to the life they want to live. We distribute medical devices for some of the largest companies in healthcare, as well as making our own solutions when we don’t find good products (Galaxy II is such a project).
I have been supporting The Fistula Foundation with surgical equipment for many years, and my GalaxyII project is an important cornerstone in that goal.
I am on the programme to ensure I make the best choices and optimise where and how we can contribute to improving healthcare for women and girls.

brexit crap

I’ve had enough. This craziness has been going on for too long, and nobody seem to have a clear idea of where we are heading. Nothing decided, so nothing to plan for. Like running a company (or four, in my case) isn’t difficult enough AS IT IS.

So I made a statement, and on twitter my followers increased with 500 people in 24 hours, absolutely crazy. I have made it my business to share real, actual, true and current examples from my daily working life on what brexit already means for us.

I want to provide a balanced voice and hope that I can help people see what we are facing, and that leaving the union has a huge impact on little and big things. It is an enormous threat, and now, we all need to raise our concerns for a future that looks bleaker and bleaker every day.

 

Actually, customers DO know what they want.

…We might just have a lot of reasons to disagree with them and hide behind the words from Steve Jobs: “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

In a large corporation any new product innovation or potential addition to the product portfolio requires a lot of people. People who need to have opinions, people who need to challenge, people who need to know, people who need to execute, people who need to update systems, people who need to be trained. The political game is played, and internal forces fight for resources. The success of a new product is largely dependant on the skills and connections of the internal people representing it.

SMEs live a different life. We obviously don’t have the reach of a large corporation, but we DO have the capability to just listen, act and implement.

We can just give the customers what they say they need.

Sometimes this means making a new product, and sometimes it just means going through our contacts and connections to find what we are looking for.

Making a new product

Yesterday we spent time with one of our suppliers and discussed how we can best make a new set of accessories for GALAXY surgical retractor. We discuss everything from design, materials most suitable, the environmental impact, recycling, packaging, weight, shipping….during the meeting I sent 3 quick WhatsApp messages to surgeons to ask for input, and thanks to the great relationships we have built, I got replies within 20 minutes: information that goes straight into the decision making process there and then. THAT is how product innovation should happen.

Design and prototyping

Next we will produce some drawings and some prototypes, and we will put them in hands of surgeons and nurses to get their view. It is important to remember that we will never treat a single patient, so no matter what WE may think, it needs to be tested and verified by the actual end user. There is so much writing and discussion about this, but I wonder how often it actually happens. It is so easy to go to people who will tell you what you want to hear and then everyone is happy, right?

Not for an SME.

The same people who wanted the product since a customer asked for it, will be the ones who roll it out to the market. If you get it wrong, there is nobody to blame but yourself. And of course, sometimes a great IDEA won’t actually make a good commercial product, for several reasons. But that is a story for another day.

 

GALAXY wasn’t a coincidence

My eldest daughter is 10. For her, the environmental impact of plastic is horrifying, to the point that it makes her cry when she sees the impact as she researches plastic pollution online. Many times I have found her in her room wiping tears off her face as she shows me turtles trapped in plastic bags, mountains of garbage on the sea bed and the comparisons of how much plastic there is versus animals in the ocean.

Her school has implemented plastic free lunches, and her class won by a mile, fuelled no doubt by her and her friends, driving the message home. My normally quiet little girl admitted with an embarrassed smile that she “screamed and hugged Matilda” when they won the lunch challenge.

They have written to the local supermarkets, challenging them to create a plastic free isle, and the other day when I came home, the entire sidewalk outside our house was covered in chalk drawings: they had created a 15 meter long masterpiece with images of fish, oceans and wildlife, with one clear message…..”reduce plastic waste!!!”.

As you can see, the guiding principle for making our new GALAXY II a better designed product for surgical retractor (for ENT, Orthopaedics, Gynae and urology) with 10% less plastic to reduce waste and environmental impact WASN’T A COINCIDENCE.

NHS in England has bought more than half a billion disposable cups over the last five years. This is a great area where simple innovations can make a big difference. The NHS in England spent £87 million on waste in 2014/15 – we are talking a huge part of the funding for our NHS going to waste management. ‘The management of healthcare waste is an essential part of ensuring that healthcare activities do not pose a risk or potential risk of infection and are securely managed.’ This responsibility is borne out in the breadth of regulations that healthcare providers must follow when managing waste including Controlled Waste Regulations, the Hazardous Waste Directive, and Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations. Important work, and we need to get it right.

As an example; waste for HTI (High Temperature Incineration) collected at Guy’s in London is burnt at Augean’s plant in Kent, the only facility in the UK capable of recovering energy from the process. (Waste is burnt at 1,100 degrees centigrade to guarantee the destruction of any hazardous properties.) St Thomas’s HTI waste is taken to Tradebe’s incinerator in Surrey, which doesn’t recover energy.

The future of our planet is something that concerns all of us. Nobody can change the world single- handily, but we can all be making smarter choices in the little things in life, and if we all pitch in, the results will make a difference.

My contribution this time is 10% less plastic in 10 000 surgical retractors in the UK annually.

Pressrelease from Buckinghamshire New University: Angela Spang

Award-winning businesswoman Angela Spang says she is ‘hugely excited’ by the potential for her companies to grow after relocating her offices from Marlow to Buckinghamshire New University’s campus in High Wycombe.

Angela, who oversees four companies, has taken up space on two floors at the University, in Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe, and says she is making use of a range of its other facilities too, as well as calling on the assistance, knowhow and expertise of employees.

She said: “The companies have grown from four people in 2015 to 20 today and so we needed somewhere that fitted us better. Bucks New University had space to rent and we thought it was the perfect location for us.

“We have been able to utilise the technicians on-site to make items for us and we would like to link up with students who may be able to…..

Read more here

Banner image: Angela Spang with Mary Simpson, Principal Lecturer in Bucks Business School.

 

 

Why simplicity is important in innovation

It is so easy to fall into the trap of ego. You know you have a great idea, and you want to show the world how clever it is…well, it is easy to also want to show the world how proud you are of having thought of it!

And being proud is a good thing.

…Just not so proud that it derails your innovation. Let me give you a good example, witnessed often in previous roles in large corporations:

Clever person solves a problem. Clever person then tries to share solution with other clever people, but makes the pitch lopsided, and the OTHER clever people end up offering to help with THEIR solutions to the problem. Clever person leaves feeling devalued, demotivated and misunderstood.

So what went wrong?

The mistake was made to make the PROBLEM bigger than the SOLUTION. (We tend to do this when we want to build suspense, to really milk out the praise we think we deserve for our brilliant solution.) It then back fires, because we focus too much on the stage before the solution, and once everyone’s brain is in help and solution mode, it is very challenging to present a solution. Intelligent creative people love problem solving and are so eager to help, they can’t stop!

Try this next time

Instead of building up the problem too big and subsequently losing your moment to shine, try summarizing the discussion you want to have up front. Try starting with saying something along the lines of : “You know that x we have been mulling over? I have a solution I want to share with you today, and I am really proud of it!”

Be honest, know yourself and use your strengths. Innovation is only beautiful when it is simple, and everyone gets it.

(Just like a good joke is only funny if you don’t have to explain it.)