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Friday, March 26, 2010

I am looking for a problem to solve, a company to build..and to keep in the good books with the bank and money lenders :) at the same time

"I am looking for a problem to solve a company to build..and to keep in the good books with the bank and money lenders :) at the same time"

I would like to enlist the help of my readers in my search for a new position, I have started to look for a new role, so if you have a challenge in your business or need some help and think I can be off assistance please feel free to get in touch, or if you know someone else who could use my help then by all means let them know as well. The other thing would be if you are looking yourself for a new role then please feel free to get in touch or maybe if you are local we can meet up and maybe we can help each other out at the same time. I have inserted a personal summary and a brief synopsis of the last three years work in the Solar Industry as a starter. I hope you all have a good weekend and keep the faith.

LinkedIn Profile : http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gordonwhyte

Summary Gordon Whyte ( Cert Mgmt (Open) )

Entrepreneurial senior operations executive, who has managed multi-disciplined teams delivering complex projects worldwide in high technology based businesses, including Multinational and start up businesses. Has selected and managed sub-contract manufacturing businesses, utilizing low cost countries and mainland European organizations, (including semiconductor foundries, PCB board manufacturing, discrete active components and sub assemblies), has introduced new products from feasibility study through to commercialization with supporting cost reduction and product reliability programs in place, within an aggressive time to market and budgetary framework. I have managed multi site operations and where necessary rationalized operations to meet the businesses strategic short term and long term objectives. I have raised over $200m in investment through Venture Capital,Government funding. Areas of technology worked in, Semiconductors, Cleantech, Display, Electronics, bio-technology,Telecom
  • Feasibility study of Solar Technologies as they are applied in the field, understanding the ultimate cost of energy for a variety of technologies.
  • In depth review of the concentrated solar industry to pin point the competitive technologies and develop a wining strategy for the LGBC technology.
  • Feasibility study of setting up a low to medium concentrator manufacturing facility in the UK, Spain and Asia.
  • Developed financial models for all the above scenarios, modeling cost of product , cash flow, capital expenditure and running costs.
  • Worked with the turnkey suppliers of solar cell manufacturing lines to develop project plans for the deployment of 20/40MW manufacturing lines, these are companies like Centrotherm, Rena, Oerlikon.
  • Led the acquisition of an existing solar cell manufacturing line in central Europe, and developed a plan to run in-situ at its present location.
  • Led on the acquisition of the equipment only of the above solar cell manufacturing line, while finding a location in the UK to support the operation.
  • Developed the supply chain for the operation, working with chemical and wafer suppliers, contract negotiated with the major wafer suppliers, like REC, LDK, NORSUN and other Asian suppliers.
  • Led Business development and helped secure with the team over 20 new customers.
  • Developed business plans and engaged with the Investment community to raise funding
  • Promoted the business at trade shows and conferences around the world
  • Managed the research and manufacturing business unit that would have been the technology provider.


Some links to help with your jobsearch:
LinkedIn http://tinyurl.com/329oyh>

The second site I'll recommend is
Recruiters OnLine Network, an online network of professional recruiters. You can freely search through posted jobs and find recruiters based on their focus or what they recruit for.

Recruiters OnLine Networkhttp://tinyurl.com/32km45>

Next is career resource site that offers tools, tips and more to help you manage your career. Its name is
JibberJobber and it allows you to keep track of all of the information that you collect during a job search.

JibberJobber - <>http://tinyurl.com/2svuef>

The fourth, and last web site, is
SimplyHired. They are what is called an aggregator. They comb, search and gather job postings from hundreds of site and it is freely available and searchable at their site.

SimplyHired - http://tinyurl.com/drtz5

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alternatives to Redundancy

As I am now in the process of working out my redundancy notice, served to me at the end of the last Whitestar Solar board meeting (Incubated @ www.narec.co.uk ), I thought this article was very timely "alternatives to redundancy". I don't have a problem with the guys taking a cost cutting option to pull the plug on the project, they are funded by One NorthEast (www.onenortheast.co.uk ) and they need to please there masters and as the route to whitehall and the purse strings is focused on renew-ables with propellers (see the narec website for the multi-million pound government funding received £50m+) therefore the fastest growing renewable sector worldwide Solar PV does not warrant anymore support and leaves at risk the jobs of the UK's only independent Solar Research facility,they are trying a last minute attempt to recover the situation and save some of the jobs.

Alternatives to redundancy

Redundancies may not suit your needs

Letting good people go should always be a last resort. Emma Wood, a personal consultant at NorthgateArinso Employer Services, considers measures companies can take before filling out the P45s.

Temporary options

• Stopping overtime
Most employees when paid overtime are paid at an advanced rate. Look at employing basic rate employees to cover this overtime.

• Reducing hours
Talk to your employees about temporarily reducing their hours to a four or three-day week. Also, look at shift patterns – can these be reduced or alternated? You may also want to negotiate a temporary change in rate of pay.

• Re-training
Look at widening the skills of your staff so they can be redeployed into different departments within the business.

• Sabbaticals

Many members of staff may be looking to take time off to travel the world or even spend time at home with families. Sabbaticals are a great option to consider as they are always unpaid.

• Layoffs
These are often used as a short-term alternative to redundancy. This allows you to send people home on limited pay or unpaid for a specific amount of time.

Permanent options

• Natural wastage
During difficult times some of your employees may wish to resign. Also, if you have employees currently going through dismissal processes, make sure you keep on top of these.

• Early retirement

Some of your staff may wish to take early retirement.

• End all temporary contracts

Although these have a fixed termination date, you do have the flexibility to end them sooner.

• Introduce specific purpose contracts

If you are employing new staff for a defined period, there is no need to give them full-term contracts.

• Compromise agreements
These are useful if you have no other alternatives. You will need to remember that the employee will need to seek advice to ensure this is a correct legal document. You should seek legal advice as well.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

VC partner to start-up CEO-Gamekeeper turned poacher

Gamekeeper turned poacher

I read this article on a recruitment website I frequent...more so of late as redundancy looms...it caught my eye because I know the guy who had written it Mike Zimmerman, he was a contact I had developed in Australia as part of my "find a job in OZ" campaine, I did have a few interviews even offered a job ( www.digislide.com.au), but that is another story. I digress, Mike was a partner for technology venture partners (www.TVP.com.au) who are an austrailian VC that invests in ICM start ups (gamekeeper) who has started (poacher) his own company BuildingIQ (www.buildingIQ.COM).

In the article he reflects on the change andMike has some salient points to make on being a CEO of a start-up.

From VC partner to start-up CEO - a different view

By Mike Zimmerman

Ex TVP Partner Mike Zimmerman contemplates the view from the other side post his latest transition to CEO of start-up BuildingIQ.

How life has changed.

Late in 2008, I left my position as a partner at Technology Venture Partners, one of a very few technology venture capital firms in Australia. My time at TVP had been both enjoyable and challenging, as I spent almost 8 years investing in Australian start ups trying to make it big overseas. I learned a great deal from my partners, and even more from the experiences of sitting on boards and working closely with a number of entrepreneurs as they went through the ups and downs of their early stage companies.

I’m now on the “other” side. In October 2009, I started a software company called BuildingIQ which helps reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings. I’m the CEO and have a small but very capable team of 4 people working in operations and engineering. The foundation of our technology is based on work done by scientists at CSIRO’s energy research centre, who still actively collaborate with us. To get the company off the ground, I worked closely with Exto Partners, a small investment firm with a lot of experience in early stage commercialisation. I’ve raised a small amount of capital and we’ve been fortunate to be generating revenue almost since the day we launched.

As I reflect on what it’s been like to have moved across the table from investor to entrepreneur, the obvious things to flag are the differences. It’s very different, to be sure, but how specifically? Here are some of the bigger things:

1. Details matter: as an investor, I tended to focus on the big picture – was the investee company going after the right market opportunity, did they have the right people on the team, would they hit their numbers? As an entrepreneur, these things still matter, but they only happen if you can deliver on the details that make it so. “Going after the right market opportunity” requires you to spend lots of time with customers and others in the market, read and learn everything you can about your competitors, and deliver the right product with the right pricing and distribution strategy at the right time. Much easier said than done. “The right people” means writing a good job spec, talking to everyone you know for references, and interviewing then reference checking furiously. “Hitting your numbers” means generating and following up leads, making pitches, negotiating and closing contracts, installing product and then launching with customers without overspending. Lots of little steps to get to the big ones.

2. Going deep: Before I left TVP, my portfolio companies were in sectors as wide ranging as optical networking, mobile social media, internet fraud and voIP software. By definition Australia as an investment market is very wide and not very deep, so I was never focused very narrowly or going become an expert in any single field. Now as an entrepreneur, I need to be an evangelist for our sector as well as our specific company’s offering. I also am selling to people with 20-30 years experience in a sector, and trying to be convincing about why our stuff is as great as sliced bread and can’t be gotten anywhere else. In short, I have to be an expert in my field to be successful.

3. Ability to make it happen: Early in my career I had a great few years consulting with Bain & Company. Ultimately I left the sector because I couldn’t handle working up the strategy and recommendations but not being responsible for delivering results. I then got a taste of execution in a start up in Silicon Valley for 4-5 years during the web 1.0 days. As a VC you’re closer to the grindstone than in consulting, but it’s still not the same. You can be involved in strategy decisions, in hiring and in funding, but there’s a lot you’re not involved in, and you’re certainly not on the line for delivering. As the CEO, the buck stops with you, and that means you have to do anything that needs to be done, from ordering the business cards to closing sales to keep the door open.

So there are lots of differences, but I still find myself very thankful for my time as a venture capitalist. It’s helped to remind me of a few things I think are critical in a company at early stages. These include:

1. People, people, people: Being an investor and board member, I saw time and time again how important it was to have the right people involved in a company, and how costly it was when someone wasn’t a good fit, especially if they stayed around too long. So I’m trying now to be very thoughtful and picky about people, and encouraging my execs to do the same. So far I feel we’ve done a great job and I can already see the benefits even though it is early days.

2. Have a board and leverage it: Even though we’re still a very young company, we have an active board of 3 directors, with formal meetings and papers. As an investor, I always felt that there was benefit -- even for an early stage company -- to stepping back from the day to day and reflecting on progress, raising big issues and making strategic decisions on a regular basis. Moreover, I’ve formed an advisory board with people who can be very helpful on specific things but are not possible or practical to have working with us full time.

3. Alignment with investors: As a VC, I don’t think I spent enough time with my CEOs understanding what their motivations and goals were, and then being honest about whether those goals fit with what we as investors needed. Poor alignment between founders and management can really screw up a company and usually becomes most evident at the critical junctures in the company’s life: fundraisings and exit. One thing Exto and I did – and this was Exto’s idea – was draft up a letter agreeing how the company would be run, our initial thoughts on strategy, fundraising and exit and what would happen if we ran into conflict. It forced us to get everything out upfront, and ensure there was alignment from day one. I would recommend this approach to anyone starting a company with co-founder or taking on investors.

So life has changed, definitely. I’m having a great time as an entrepreneur and my world is very different. But having spent a number of years working as an investor has been invaluable and will serve me well in my start up. Next up: retirement!