Gary Vickers is chief executive of Aerogility, a US-based company that delivers ground-breaking maintenance scheduling systems to global civil and defence aerospace companies.
How did you get into the aviation industry?
I have always worked in the software industry – I started in the financial sector, and my career in aviation started with Aerogility. This was followed by a steep learning-curve as we won more customers and developed the Aerogility product.
How has your career progressed?
After my master’s degree, I worked for American Express and then spent the next 10 years with Logica in London and Sydney, working in a variety of roles. I will always be grateful to Logica for teaching me how to run a commercial software project professionally. This was followed by a five-year stint as an independent programme manager working on some very large business launches and change programmes – tough at times, but rewarding.
At the start of the dotcom boom, I joined an e-commerce software company called Lost Wax. That was great fun for a while, with all the new business ideas for the internet. It was in the aftermath of this period that we decided that in our next venture we should create our own product and intellectual property. Working with my co-founders at Aerogility, we started the task of commercialising multi-agent software – a technology that came out of artificial intelligence research and was gaining traction. The creation of the Aerogility proposition for the aviation industry was the result.
What have been the highlights?
I am proud of my programme management achievements – it is always challenging growing a small team into a large programme and overcoming all the obstacles along the way – and creating Aerogility has been my greatest achievement to date. I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to be working with such an innovative and exciting team at this stage of my career. The biggest highlight has been the positive validation of our technology and business proposition by aviation professionals – and working with experts in aviation maintenance and engineering and fleet sustainment in globally recognised companies such as BAE Systems, EasyJet and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Why did you set up Aerogility?
We were sure that multi-agent software technology had the potential for some very powerful applications. We did some research and development work with the Rolls-Royce Strategic Research Centre on the BROADEN programme, modelling 25-year Total Care contracts. The lightbulbs went on for us, and we realised the size of the opportunity in predictive analytics and predictive maintenance. We decided to follow the marketing strategy of "crossing the chasm" – the technology adoption life cycle. This meant defining a very clear and highly focused proposition for a specific sector. Our proposition is to deliver simulation-driven what-if analysis, and automatic forecasting and maintenance scheduling for the sustainment of aircraft fleets.
We know that many organisations need the capability to forecast their KPIs and to play out their options using simulation technology. Aerogility can benefit any complex, capital-intensive asset where uptime and budget control are critical success factors. However, by focusing entirely on the aviation sector for the time being, we have benefited hugely by gaining in-depth knowledge of the industry and its challenges, and this has paid dividends for our aviation customers.
What does your job entail?
As chief executive, I am responsible for leading the company's business strategy and commercial management. This includes business development, operations, and customer and investor relationships. We have a very strong technical leadership team in Aerogility and my main task is to work with them to ensure that we achieve the right balance of continual innovation and product development, while delighting our customers with on-time and on-budget implementations.
What are your challenges?
The main challenge for us, like any successful early-stage business, is to manage the finely balanced relationship between profitable company growth and ensuring the quality of our work in both our customer implementations and product development. Innovation is central to everything that we do, but this must be calibrated by our customers' priorities and business case justifications. We are constantly looking for talented people to join our team and in return we offer a stimulating and flexible working environment.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy most aspects of my job, especially meeting new people in our customer and prospect organisations, explaining our proposition, and demonstrating our capabilities. Customers are impressed with the innovation and pleased that there is now software available to help them work more efficiently.
What is next for the company?
We have done the hard yards to develop our proposition and prove the return on investment achievable by our customers. We now plan to expand the company in several geographies. We will continue to build on our successes in defence aerospace – and our recent highly successful breakthrough with EasyJet means we will accelerate our expansion into the global civil aviation sector. We are delighted with our achievements so far and we are very excited about the next phase of development for Aerogility.
Source: Flight International