10 years ago, I became the Chief Executive of Inzpire. Its isn’t a role that I wanted! My colleague, friend and co-founder, Mark Boyes, who had done an excellent job in steering Inzpire through its early years, asked me to take over. So, blinking in the sunlight of unexpected stardom, I stepped forward into a new world.
At the time, we were 38 people working out of two drab rooms in a small office in Henley Way, Lincoln. We were founder-owned, we didn’t have to answer to anyone, we had no targets, and we did as we liked. Mark, Ian (the other original founder) and I even held a Board meeting in Las Vegas – just because we felt like it! It was a time of sun-filled days in an infant company, free as a bird.
In the blink of an eye, a decade passed. The infant grew into a young adult. Things became more serious, more business-like and more corporate but, still, we protected our ethos, our values and our sense of purpose. Our growth was dramatic and enabled us to significantly improve the terms and conditions for our employees, whose number grew fast. The original 3 people turned into almost 300 and our revenues rose rapidly!
My time as Inzpire’s CEO has been an adventure and a learning experience. I have loved growing Inzpire, supported by an outstanding team. Along the way, we acquired investors – who came and went, but who helped us along the way - and then our current owners, QinetiQ. Most important of all, we built a luminous team of brilliant individuals, all committed to Inzpire’s vision of becoming the most trusted and respected defence company on Earth.
Stepping back from leading this superb team has been an exceptionally hard decision for me. Inzpire has been my home for half my working life and so many of Inzpire’s people are my close friends! Inzpire has consumed all my energies and taken everything that I have for a very long time. Now, the time has finally come to put myself first. There are so many things that I want to do while I still have the years left to do them.
Thus today, 21 June, I will be standing back, and the immensely capable Bren Nolan will be taking my place. Bren will be an outstanding managing director for Inzpire who will do a truly outstanding job. He is a great person and I look forward to supporting him in my new role as Inzpire’s Chairman. We will be doing everything that we can to make sure that the company continues with its stellar successes and with the values and ethos that have made it so admired. Bren is completely aligned with those values and that ethos, as is our QinetiQ mothership. Inzpire will sail on much as before.
Bren Nolan and Hugh Griffiths at Inzpire's headquarters today, Tue 21 June
My move to the Chairman role is just the next chapter in the long book of Inzpire. It marks a change and is perhaps ‘the end of the beginning’ but what comes next will be better. Inzpire’s history has always been a page-turner and the plot will become ever more exciting as it moves forward. Good times lie ahead as Inzpire realises its vast and untapped potential.
Change is inevitable in any organisation and is often a good thing. Without change there is no progress. Inzpire has reinvented itself so many times in its history that I have lost count. This change will simply be the latest reincarnation of our fast-growing and wonderful business. Inzpire is definitely not about its CEO / managing director, it is about its employees! The company is run by an excellent team of leaders, at all levels, and I am grateful to every single one of these legends. They are Inzpire’s real leadership, not me.
I look back with tremendous pride at what we have all achieved. We have won so many awards, including two Queens Awards for Innovation, and a host of honours for how Inzpire treats its people. Over Inzpire’s lifetime, we have created around 2300 people years of employment for people and their families. We have paid out well over £100 million in salaries, benefitting both the country and our employees. During Covid - the worst financial crisis for 300 years - Inzpire was exemplary in how it looked after everyone. We did that without accepting a single penny of Govt support that could otherwise have gone to the NHS. That is something to be very proud of.
Inzpire is completely different to the norm in defence. We have built a hugely trusted brand and supported the UK military in so many key areas. We are edgy, unorthodox and entrepreneurial. We champion a ‘Revolution in Defence’, underpinned by 5000 years of front-line military experience and 300 wonderful people. We believe that “profit is a by-product of a life well lived”. What other defence company thinks like that?
We are bold, we are hungry, we take risks. We reject the dreary defence monoculture. We reject corporate BS. We reject pomposity and outdated hierarchical attitudes. We focus on people, not on process. We actively do not want Inzpire to be the same as every other Defence Company. We are not afraid of being a little kooky. Metaphorically speaking, we eat the magic mushrooms, we live in the sunshine, we swim in the ocean, and we drink the wild air. We are experimental and we are curious. We take time to explore new ideas and new opportunities. We embrace the wisdom of our amazing Inzpire crowd. None of us knows as much as all of us and not everyone who thinks differently is mad!
To all Inzpire’s amazing employees, I would like to say this: you are the crystal spring from which Inzpire’s success flows, and I can’t find the right words to adequately express how grateful I am to you. I have had the extraordinary honour of working with you and I want to thank you for everything that you have done for me. You have been an inspiration. Serving you as your CEO has been a life-changing and life-defining experience.
I leave the CEO role knowing that Inzpire is an extraordinary company with tremendous prospects and incredible people. Its best days are ahead. The world order is changing and Defence is at an inflection point. I am certain that Inzpire will play a vital role in shaping the future. I am very excited to see where Inzpire goes! I will be cheering it on, always.
To everyone at Inzpire, thank you for making my 10 years as Inzpire’s CEO so very special. Please continue to be ‘Inzpire’. Make people feel good, be kind to people, encourage them, be positive about them and be relentlessly optimistic. You can’t light a fire with a wet match!
Finally, be happy and look forward. Every ending is a beginning; we just don't know it at the time.
Collective Training and Services OBU
On 4 July, the Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC) at RAF Waddington hosted an awards ceremony which included personnel from Inzpire
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