Five minutes with Guy Hope, Business Development Executive

5 Minutes With Business Development UK Europe

The world of Business Development is very fast paced, especially in a growing business like SEA, so we need unique people who are up to the challenge.

Business Development Executive Guy Hope works closely with our partners in the UK and Europe to make sure we are delivering the products and capabilities they need. We checked in with Guy to find more about his role at SEA.

Thank you for making time for us, Guy, could you tell us a bit more about your role within SEA?

I joined SEA in March 2022, and I cover Business Development activities in the Defence industry. The last few months have been really fascinating, dealing with the exciting announcements around Ancilia, the work we are doing with KraitSense, working closely with the Communications team at Beckington and a bit with the Research and Simulation team too.

I think there’s a big difference between the perception of Business Development and the reality. People think it’s all about business trips to shows and conferences, with long lunches. There is an element of truth to that, but I probably spend about half of my time working within the company to improve my own knowledge of our products and capabilities.

As a Business Development team, it’s really important to understand the company, to understand the goals of the business, the people and skills we have, and the products we are working on. It is not just about finding opportunities, but about matching opportunities to the skills and aims we already have.

Can you tell us a bit more about your background, and how that led you to this role?

It was a bit of a roundabout route; I spent 13 years in the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineer but had to leave in my early 30s due to medical reasons. My background was gas turbine and gearboxes, and I then worked at Rolls Royce for around 4 years, where I saw them build the gas turbines.

After that, I became a physics teacher at a very well-known school in Cheltenham and a school in Brecon. After a decade or so in education, I moved back into the defence industry and after seven years at Ultra PMES and Steller Systems, I joined SEA. I loved teaching and really enjoyed physics, but I did miss the Marine Industry. It’s an honour to get the chance to work with the Royal Navy again, as I really did miss that.

There aren’t many overlaps between teaching and Business Development, but as a Head of Science and Physics, I did have to “sell” the topic to parents, pupils and colleagues to a certain extent!

Does your time in the Royal Navy contribute to your role at SEA?

More significantly than I thought it would, actually.

I wasn’t familiar with the specific SEA technology, but having background on the way the Navy operates, and the various platforms really helps. The fundamental understanding of how platforms work, how people on those platforms work and Navy Procurement processes is instrumental to my work at SEA.

Also, my experience in working with the Dutch Navy in The Hague has proven really useful; I’m still in contact with a lot of people in the Netherlands.

How does the Business Development team underpin and support SEA’s wider goals and ambitions?

You need to understand your own business, its strategy and where it's trying to get to, then your role in Business Development is to seek out customers, opportunities and projects that take you on the right path. At the same time, obviously winning new business and making profit, but increasing profit for the business in a sustainable way, that fits the company’s goals.

As well as that, you have to be the eyes and ears of the business. We're always listening to what navies and our other customers are trying to do. Geopolitics are changing; therefore, challenges are changing and we’re there to feed that back into the business and help steer strategy where we can. It’s a two-way process.

As a company, we've got strong capabilities and product lines in the Underwater Battlespace and the Ship & Fleet Protection arenas - everything from submarine communications through to our Ancilia Countermeasure System and the Torpedo Launcher System. So, it’s an exciting time to be part of a Business Development team that is finding, chasing and building new business.

In the current political climate, we’re seeing the acceleration of various programmes, and more realism too. For the first time in decades, NATO warships are actually in combat, which really impacts the need for some projects to be accelerated. Some European and Baltic navies in particular are talking about upgrading their ships very quickly, so these projects feel more credible and near-term. Of course, that change is still happening, so we have to wait and see how that develops.

What are the biggest challenges within your role at SEA?

With the pace of change and turbulence in the industry, it can be difficult to plan ahead. Although the Defence industry is getting better at it, some opportunities do just disappear, which can really throw off our forecasts. So, it’s important that we never pin all our hopes on just one opportunity.

With remote working, work being spread over three sites and us needing to grow quickly, it does take a long time to get to know everybody in the business.

On one hand, it’s great to always meet so many new people, but it can also be a challenge.

Can you give us a recent example of a project you’ve been involved in?

I’ve been very involved with building a relationship with a Scandinavian company to move Ancilia, our new countermeasures system into a wider international market.

Our technical team is working closely with their technical team to look at system integration and we’re making a lot of positive steps. My role is to look at the BD and commercial implications and form what the offering looks like.

Another one was announced in March 2023 when we joined forces with SH Defence to incorporate our Torpedo Launcher System and KraitSense into The Cube™, an innovative modular system designed by SH Defence for hosting and deploying specialised equipment on naval platforms.

This was an interesting move into modularity for us. Our products are now part of a concept portfolio on their website, and they're talking to various navies about using The Cube™ system with SEA equipment as an option.

I was lucky enough to visit SH defence early on, and their factory was very impressive, building that relationship and eventually signing an agreement with them was a proud moment.

What do you like most about working at SEA?

That’s an easy question, firstly it’s the people. I love going to any one of our three sites and just being blown away by the clever people I have as colleagues. There’s always somebody doing something that you wouldn’t even know SEA could do, or creating part of a capability you wouldn’t know we had.

Secondly, I like being with a company so close to manufacturing innovative technology. It’s very exciting at the moment to see the Barnstaple factory being reconfigured and gearing up for increased production for the opportunities we created.

I also think SEA is really in tune with flexible working, and understanding the benefits it brings to people and the business.

So, what motivates you to get up in the morning?

There are a lot of things that motivate different people, but for me it’s building those important relationships that will create new opportunities for us in the future.

We have Business Development people in different parts of the world, doing a similar thing, and then when we compare notes, we always find connections between what we're doing in different regions. To me, that’s really exciting.

Thank you for your time, Guy.

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