+ Corporate strategy
+ Global operations
+ Business development
+ Investor relations
+ Commercial sales and marketing
+ Client engagement
+ Team management and support
+ People development
+ Animal welfare
How did you come to lead Envigo?
I joined the company in 2002 as part of the sales team. By virtue of having run my own business prior to Envigo, I was in the habit of creating a detailed business plan and did the same for my new sales territory. My boss at the time was impressed and asked me to present it to the divisional director — who liked it and said I should present it to the CEO. That was kind of frightening. I’d been with the business for less than a year.
The turning point for my career was when I stood up and presented that business plan to the CEO. I pointed out that for some of the product lines I was selling, there wasn’t available information on our competitors and their market strategies. The CEO, Brian Cass, rattled that information off the top of his head. In a moment that could have ended my career at Envigo, I said, “It’s great you know that, but the organization doesn’t.” He said, “Then, how do we do it differently?” I told him we needed a strategic function to put all that information together, mine through it, and distribute it to the rest of the business so we can build corporate knowledge. He thought about it for a second, and then asked if I fancied the job.
In 2008, Brian asked if I would take over global sales, marketing, and strategy. This exposed me to a lot of investor relations work, including helping raise financing for the company. We acquired Harlan Laboratories in 2014 and Brian made me Chief Operating Officer to oversee the integration of this new business. All these roles gave me great opportunities to learn about all aspects of the business - which was Brian's plan all along as he was looking for his successor!
A couple years later, when the integration was finished, Brian decided it was finally time to step back after some 40 years in the industry and asked me to succeed him as CEO. It was a great honor and a real pleasure after putting so many years into the business and loving it with such a passion. I’ve been proud to do it ever since.
What are your responsibilities as CEO of Envigo?
A huge part of my job is making sure my team can get their jobs done. What are they focused on? What are their worries? What are the roadblocks in their way? What can I do to help? I’m also focused on developing them as leaders of this business and areas for improvement around the business. I go around to all of our operations, meet our people, and hear what’s happening on the ground floor. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is holding face to face discussions with people at all levels of the organization and hearing what's going on, what we are doing well, and what we need to do better.
Another large portion of my job is business strategy and analyzing how we’re financially positioned. The structure of our business affords us the opportunity to look at not just how we grow by driving our current business lines, but also researching other lines of business that we should be offering to customers. What are those business lines? What are the characteristics of the kind of the organizations we might want to bring on board and integrate? So, scanning and evaluation of our options is also a good portion of my role.
What are some of the key attributes of being successful in your role?
Number one is listening. Listening up and down the organization. Listening to the people sitting around your table is not enough. And, it’s no good listening if people are afraid to talk. So, number two is creating an atmosphere where people will tell you what’s going on, what’s going right and, most importantly, what’s going wrong. It’s how you learn. Number three is make sure you have fun with your teams. You spend a lot of time working together. You spend a lot of time on tough issues. Building trust amongst the people you work with is essential to be able to build everything else.
Part of Envigo's culture is knowing people are working in the best interest of the organization and not necessarily their self-interest. We build on that culture to ensure clarity across the organization on what we’re trying to achieve, and then hold ourselves accountable for delivering it. That’s what helps move the organization forward. It all starts with being able to build teams of people who trust each other to get things done. Once you have that trust, accountability becomes more about ‘how do we stay on track’ than ‘who do I blame’.
What would you like the world to know about this business, its importance, and essential focus on animal welfare?
If you work in a vivarium or barrier, you have to be an animal lover by nature. It’s a very difficult job. I’ve done the job for short periods of time when I ran my own mouse colonies as an academic. It’s very tiring to do that day in and day out. Our barrier teams shower into the facility in the morning and shower out at night. The rest of the time, they’re in that barrier caring for animals. The vast majority of people I've met do it because they are immensely proud of the contribution they make to improving human and animal health. They are motivated to ensuring our animals have the best quality of life possible while they’re in our care, before they go on to be a part of life saving research to find and develop new medicines.
What are the best parts of your job?
Hands down the best part is interacting with the people who work in our organization. Hearing the phenomenal work they do and sometimes hearing the difficult things. That way, I know we can start to try and do something about their challenges. I hosted my first “Ask Adrian Anything” sessions when we bought Harlan. I toured all the different facilities after we bought the business and encouraged people to say whatever they felt like saying because I can't fix things I don't know about.
What are some of the goals you've set for yourself at Envigo and the company itself?
My goal is to keep the company growing in terms of what we can offer our customers and the amount of value we can create for them as a partner. One critical question I ask myself is how we can be more involved in research and supporting it. There are so many exciting things happening in our industry. Our challenge is to continue growing alongside our customers and become a bigger part of their success.Please contact us if you have a question for Adrian or would like to learn more about Envigo and our services.