Meet the Team: Q&A with Chris Arthurs (VP of Innovation)
What is your role at Hadean? What does an average week look like for you?
I’m Hadean’s VP of Innovation, which means that I’m responsible for the Innovation department. As a team, our job is to explore, test, and prove out novel business models which make use of Hadean’s technology. We evaluate business ideas from three perspectives: product desirability, technical feasibility, and economic viability. Practically, this means that I spend my weeks – together with the team – gathering ideas from inside and outside the company (lots of talking, and lots of reading!), turning the more promising ones into prototypes, demos, and decks (research, design and engineering work), and running tests on the market to gather evidence on whether there’s real value in our ideas.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s difficult to choose just one thing. The most obvious is the people. There’s such a diversity of knowledge and experience at Hadean; everyone knows something deep that you don’t, and is happy to share that with you. And conversely, they know when to reach out to you for help. It’s a very open and collaborative culture, and a great place to grow. It’s a real privilege to be part of the wider team.
A second thing would be the variety in the work. Recently, I’ve had weeks when I’m deep in code for every day, creating a prototype; weeks when I’ve been in front of investors presenting our latest developments, attending workshops, and speaking with scientific collaborators on some of our ongoing biomedical projects; and weeks when I’ve had space for focused deep-dives into emerging technologies. At times, I’ve even found a role as a voiceover artist for demo videos.
What led you to the role of VP of Innovation at Hadean?
That’s a great question. It’s been something of a natural evolution – I joined Hadean as a Research Engineer in the Innovation department, with a view to focus on possible biomedical applications of our technology. This felt like a natural fit, having spent much of the past decade as a researcher working in the field of computational haemodynamics – that’s the application of high-performance computing to simulate and study blood flow in people’s arteries. Where better to build on that, than at a company boasting the technology to bring the huge computing power of the cloud to bear on some of the biggest challenges facing us today?
At Hadean, I quickly became excited by the many possible applications for our technology beyond the biomedical field, and by the innovation process itself. It was an easy decision when I was presented with the opportunity to guide the direction of exploration as VP of Innovation, whilst learning from the talented leadership team at Hadean.
What top three skills or trails do you think someone needs to pursue a role as a VP of Innovation?
First – to listen more than you speak. By definition, research is about gathering and structuring information – whether you’re talking to a potential customer or to an engineering expert. Ask the right questions, then pay attention. Second – focus. New ideas are ten-a-penny, and so there’s a big risk of becoming distracted by something new and exciting before finishing exploring older avenues. Third – the ability to be comfortable in uncertainty. If we have certainty about where we are going, then it’s not innovation at all.
What are some of the most exciting challenges you face day-to-day and how do you overcome them?
There are so many different ways of testing and validating innovative ideas that you never know what skill you’ll need next. Will it be deep research into a new vertical; helping the team overcome a blocker; communicating Innovation’s latest work to outsiders; engineering; or even audio editing? Often you find yourself a little outside of your comfort zone, but that’s the exciting part: there’s no better state for learning.
How would you describe Hadean’s culture?
Open, collaborative, driven, inquisitive, professional.
What would you say is the most fulfilling part of your role at Hadean?
Again – it’s difficult to choose! I’d have to say it’s the sense of growth and development, not just for the individual, but for the company as a whole. We’re all here because we want to build something important, and that sense of everyone pulling in the same direction is wonderful.