explore icon
  • Hour glass icon4 minutes

Working at Stream Bio

Andy Chaloner discusses his work as Chief Executive Officer at Stream Bio.

  • Name: Andy Chaloner
  • Current position: Chief Executive Officer
  • Organisation: Stream Bio
  • Size of workforce: 9 employees
  • Date of interview: May 2020
Headshot of Andy Chaloner.

What key skills or mindsets do you need to build into your workforce to go further and grow? 

Commercial awareness – the first thing, for me, is that it’s vital for anyone I employ to have a commercial mindset. I need people who can understand the market application of what we are doing. I need someone who can identify opportunities and act on them in a timely way. 

We have a saying: “you waste a day, it’ll cost you a week; you waste a week, it’ll cost you a month”. When dealing with clients or partners, especially in an SME, you need to be responsive and quick. I would say the smaller the company, the more commercially minded you have to be. 

I want people who want to get our products out there and who are excited by our products being used in a range of new ways. For example, we are currently working on a joint venture which may see our products being used in new diagnostics for Covid-19. This is exciting! 

Secondly, I’d say that initiative is key – doing what you need to do without being told to do it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission. I’d rather someone make their own decision and make a mistake than need to be told what to do. 

Of course, we provide direction and support, but not the kind of regular supervision and processes that you would find in a larger organisation. In this way, you might compare working in an SME to a research group environment. 

Finally, we do need natural research scientists, we need people with curious minds and the ability to pursue questions and find those answers, all of those skills that a postdoctoral researcher may already have, but tempered with that commercial bent and keeping in mind the importance of initiative. 

What makes a prospective employee stand out to you during the recruitment process?

Being able to talk freely and genuinely about instances/examples that aren’t on the CV that reinforce the qualities/skills sets we’re looking for, whether that be technical research ability in the lab, and quite importantly, a personality with natural initiative and proactive tendencies. By talking freely, I mean unrehearsed. 

It can be difficult to find people with the skillset we need, so when we are recruiting we tend to use a specialist agency. The agency will provide us with a selection of CVs for us to review and we narrow it down to a few to interview. The agency can save a lot of time but it would be great if postdocs with the right skillset were approaching me directly. 

At interview I like to understand people’s problem-solving skills. I’ll ask what they’ve done in the past, if they were given a task to do and something went wrong, what did they do to resolve the situation.

What are the common mistakes or pitfalls you see?

It's not a mistake as such but one of the hurdles we come across when interviewing is that people aren't necessarily the right fit for an SME.

Some people prefer the structure of a larger organisation and are better suited to all the processes and security that comes with that. We make it clear what the culture of our company is like at interview: you may have a specialism but because we are so small and dynamic you have to be a jack of all trades.


Refine image Refine Cross
Filter by: Unsure what to search for? Click here
130 minutes
Flash badge View notice(s)