Building a world class team: What NuNano can learn from Le Tour

As many of you are aware my passion (aside from AFM probes of course!) is cycling.

July is the big month in the professional cycling calendar, as the sports' top athletes take part in the Tour de France.

It's always the wearer of the famous maillot jaune or yellow jersey who grabs the headlines.  As the rider with the lowest cumulative finishing times, they are the overall race winner at the end of the gruelling 2,200 mile mountainous ride.

Team Sky at the Tour de France

Team Sky at the Tour de France

But the yellow jersey winner is heavily dependent on the performances of the other eight people in their team.  Interestingly, each of those team members has a specific role to play in making that win happen - be that as team road captain, sprinter, climber or domestiques (the guys who give up their wheels when team-mates puncture or collect food and bottles to distribute to other team members).

What's fascinating is that each of these riders, generally speaking, have psychological profiles that match the roles they play.  Sprinters and team captains tend to be extroverted, whereas climbers and time-trialists are likely to be more internally driven and introverted.  Sprinters and time-trialists are more motivated by the desire to win, whereas road captains and domestiques are motivated by the effectiveness with which they can support the team.

It's much the same in any team building situation of course.  But maybe I'm more focused on this aspect of Le Tour this year because NuNano is in a state of growth - I'm in the process of building our world-class team!

Our expanding process engineering team

Our expanding process engineering team


It's quite a different challenge for me and for the company as a whole.  We've brought an academic idea out into the world of commerce and in doing so have had to learn an enormous amount about how a business functions.

That's required me to develop 'all-rounder' skills - perhaps the equivalent of being Chris Froome in Team Sky (?!).  But like Chris, I need a team around me.  So now it's all about making sure NuNano is made up of the right mix of roles and personalities, and that I have a good understanding of the difference ways in which each type of person is likely to be motivated.

Process engineers for example are more like the hill climbers.  They need longer extended energy for those mountainous ascents/long periods of time working to develop robust fabrication processes.  Here pacing rather than speed is the key and their ability to internalise their motivation and maintain their patience and dedication right through to the summit/the completed fabrication of a batch of probes is critical.

Conversely, sales managers are more like the sprinters in the team.  They work in short bursts of energy and are hidden away for most of the racing day/probe fabrication process, only really seen at the crucial point where focus is on crossing the finishing line first/winning the business.

Obviously, each person is individual and such generalisations are only useful up to a point.  But what is really exciting however is that we're starting to fill out these desks around me, a process through which I get to learn more about the people, their passions, and the skills they can bring to NuNano, to continue our ongoing success and growth.

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