It’s often said that great opportunities arise when you’re in the right place at the right time. What makes the opportunity even better is when it intersects with an issue you have a personal commitment to. For me, joining the board of BibliU is one of those truly great opportunities: the firm is taking a new approach to tackling a longstanding challenge in higher education, engages my track record in global tech firms, and speaks to my personal connection to teaching and learning.
I’m a man of many experiences—former technology executive, investor, and lifelong Leeds United fan—and a proud son of a family of teachers who married into another family of teachers. My son is a teacher, too—so it’s not an exaggeration to say that teaching is in my DNA. This personal connection to education has continued throughout my life, and I also serve as a digital school governor at two schools and as a volunteer coach for a UK program called Teach First—a government funded program that fast tracks high-caliber university graduates into teaching programs that places them in schools serving deprived areas.
Joining BibliU will enable me to apply my skills and experience to help address a pervasive problem: equal access to course materials, a challenge almost every student can identify with. Back in my university days, I too was shocked at the cost of textbooks; troublingly but perhaps not surprisingly, this complaint can still be levied today, and is all the more pressing in light of the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Simply put, the current model does not work and isn't in the student's best interest. The pandemic has accelerated the need for digitized content and new thinking about access. This is a pivotal moment for higher education—and for BibliU.
BibliU is at the forefront of disrupting antiquated ways of accessing course materials. So, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help bring about not just greater access, but also better outcomes for students. Throughout my career I’ve worked in roles building businesses in fast-growth technology companies. I spent 10 years at Intel, benefiting from working in a very agile organization. Three years at Vodafone’s corporate offices allowed me to build corporate technology partnerships. Subsequently, I ran the European business of Seagate Technology; I was based in the UK but spent considerable time in their Cupertino headquarters. Yes, I accumulated a lot of frequent flyer miles.
The success I have had as a leader in tech firms is not based on an engineering or computer science background. At heart, I’m a commercial operator: How do you go to market? How do you build client partnerships? How do you build effective teams? In the past five years, my extensive commercial and governance experience working with boards and CEOs, has enabled me to transition to become an investor and non-executive advisor. I’ve gravitated toward early-stage, fast-growth tech businesses—right around Series A. My ideal opportunity is one where I meet a CEO with an amazing idea who's solved a huge problem, has developed tech to solve that problem, and is trying to build a business out of that vision. Dave Sherwood and BibliU fit the bill.
Today, BibliU is building an end-to-end solution, "from selection to deployment": where we help institutions select, procure, store, and ultimately deploy digital content to students. I’m excited to provide guidance and support to Dave, the leadership, and the growing global BibliU team as we transform content management and delivery. Here’s to collaborating with universities around the world to help them prioritize learning access, equity, and opportunity.