Day in the life questions
Name: Michael Wilson
Job title: Chief Technology Officer, 3M BIC
Tell us about your career journey to the 3M BIC:
After a fairly routine academic path through London University as a biochemist, I moved to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to investigate plant poisons and entered into the Scientific Civil Service. I was fortunate that after a period working with the European Commission, I was awarded one of only three UK Government Cabinet Office Fellowships to travel the Globe investigating international trade. This took me quite literally, right round the world, beginning in the USA then Australia, South Africa, the Middle East, Europe and back home. Following that, I worked in government and industry on what is now called ‘homeland security’, at a Public School in Surrey, at Manchester Metropolitan University, before finally joining the 3M BIC in 2012. I am one of the longest serving team members at the 3M BIC.
Describe a typical day at work:
I doubt that there is such a thing as a ‘typical’ day. Certainly, the last 12 months have been atypical, monitoring the contributions of the 3M BIC to business growth through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Setting that aside, the work of the CTO is listening. Listening to what clients are seeking to achieve and then working with them, the team, colleagues in the University and the technology to see how we can help realise the client’s vision.
What keeps you motivated at work?
Working at the joins between business and academia, technology and creativity. It is at the joins, or rather the overlap, where true innovation and progress occurs. Seeing that happen is a real motivation.
The most exciting thing about your job?
I can’t deny that the technology itself is exciting. Watching a 3D prototype rise out of the powder matrix, seeing the ‘inside’ of a complex object in the X-ray CT, or simply passing on knowledge to someone else.
The most challenging?
All that technology has to be specified, tendered for, purchased, commissioned, maintained and users trained in safe and effective use, which is quite a challenge.
Time of the day you most creative or inspired?
Colleagues will know that they are as likely to get an email from me early in the morning as during the day. I am an early riser and like to get to work first thing.
Proudest career moment?
I suppose that that would be the Government Fellowship, having the interview chaired by the then Cabinet Secretary in an oak panelled room in Downing Street with a view across Whitehall.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Look to a career in the Classics”. My old House Master at school once told me. Clearly, I ignored his advice.
What innovations should we look out for in your industry?
Design, prototyping and manufacture are merging to produce a new profession, the Design Engineer is equally at home with creating a new products as with manufacturing them on the shop floor. This is being continually facilitated by improved manufacturing technologies, software and systems incorporating artificial intelligence. That pace of change, for me, is really exciting.
Out of the office…?
An avid photographer- search for “old_man_leica” on social media or the web for examples – and traveller, at least pre-pandemic. Since learning to drive at 14 in a sports car in Italy, I am happy anywhere being behind the wheel. I hate being a passenger though. I also have two wonderful granddaughters to enjoy.