As part of our “meet the team” series, this week we feature our newest recruit, Ruth Oliver, Business Engagement Executive for the West of Scotland (pictured here on the right with Laura Goodfellow, Head of Business Engagement at Interface).
When did you start at Interface and where did you work before?
I joined Interface in November 2016. Previous to this, I had been working in Sales & Marketing for WEST Brewery.
What attracted you to the position?
I really enjoyed working for such a successful Glasgow SME, but I missed being involved in academia. Interface offered a unique ability to be involved in both worlds! It enables me to utilise my account management skills whilst being involved in a wide range of local businesses. I’m definitely an adopted Glaswegian these days and I like being involved in local business and understanding what makes the city tick.
What does your role incorporate?
To put it most simply, I’m a matchmaker! I help businesses in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley identify areas of what they do that could be improved by collaborating with academia. I’ll also help them identify possible sources of funding to help them undertake the work they want to do. As an organisation, we have excellent contacts throughout the Higher Education and Research Institutions in Scotland. This means that we can quickly identify and reach suitable academics for a huge range of projects, enabling our clients to forge successful academia/industry partnerships. Our cross sector approach is really useful; it means we can seek out cross-disciplinary partnerships for companies in areas where they may not have contacts or a knowledge base to work from. I’m always really impressed by the range of different academics and academic approaches we can receive for the same enquiry.
What does a typical day look like?
I’m based in Tontine, Glasgow’s newly converted high-tech business incubator. It’s a great way to keep up to speed with what is happening in the world of innovation in Glasgow. A typical day will involve a combination or phone and face-to-face meetings with clients, and time spent at my desk undertaking expertise searches for clients. I try and get out and about to meet new businesses as much as possible, too, so you might come across me at local business or networking events.
What do you like most about the role?
I really like the fact that we work across all sectors. I can have a meeting about soft drinks packaging followed by a meeting about marine planning. Literally, two days are never the same! I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, so every time I encounter a new business I end up doing lots of research into their sector. I’ve learnt a lot in the last couple of months, it’s been great!
What advice would you give businesses which want to collaborate with academic expertise?
Don’t be scared to find out what’s out there, and try and think outside your own sector. There is a huge breadth of research disciplines in Scotland, and our connections across the county mean we aren’t just relying on local knowledge. There might be someone in a different city working in a different discipline that actually has the perfect skill set to help your business.
What motivates you on a dreary Monday morning?
New things! I hate doing the same thing every day; making sure something interesting is waiting on my desk or in my inbox for a Monday morning is always a good motivator.
What three words sum you up?
Enthusiastic, sociable, optimistic.