Hydrix board member Paul Wright is excited by the chance to build a ‘genuine Australian tech success story’
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Special Report: Wright says his skillset is ideally suited to add value as the company embarks on an exciting growth phase.
For Hydrix (ASX:HYD), FY20 is shaping up as a defining year for the business as it looks to continue earnings momentum achieved in 2019, when annual revenues more than doubled and it achieved its first quarter of positive cashflow.
The company has assembled a group of leading Australian engineers, as it looks to add value with a multi-channel services approach spanning from medical technology to aerospace and defence.
Among the key personnel additions made by Hydrix is Paul Wright, who joined the Hydrix board in August 2018 as a non-executive director after a 35-year international business career.
Along with eight years at global consulting firm Bain & Company, Wright also worked as a CEO at three different tech and biomedical companies including ASX-listed Universal Biosensors (ASX:UBI) and ASX-listed Vision Systems.
Vision Systems was successfully acquired in 2006 in a $700m takeover by US multinational Danaher Corporation. A number of Hydrix’s current engineering team began their careers at Vision Systems, which had a similar business model to Hydrix.
Speaking with Stockhead, Wright said while the Hydrix business was a good fit for his skill-set, what attracted him initially was the quality of the company’s human capital.
“The first thing that became apparent to me was the calibre of engineering team,” he said.
“When you have a diverse mix of clients – from multinationals to tech startups – willing to hand over their IP and trust Hydrix to drive commercialisation it is evidence of how good the team is,” he said.
In addition to talent, Wright also noticed a strong sense of camaraderie across the management team, who all share the same vision of where the company is trying to go.
“There’s a real desire among the team to build a genuine Australian tech success story,” Wright said.
“We want to do good work that we’re proud of and that also rewards shareholders. For me it was about deciding where I could add value, and I think my experience fits squarely with what Hydrix is aiming to achieve.”
In leveraging the intellectual capital developed during his career to add value, Wright pointed to his consulting experience at Bain as an important factor.
“I consider a board role is centred on strategy, governance and finance”,” he said. “And I think that strategic decision-making is where the commercial discipline I’ve developed in my career will come in handy.”
He added that those decisions would be two-fold in terms of their practical application; first in appraising potential investment opportunities, and secondly in building out distribution strategies for the company’s existing businesses.
“We’ve got a lot of engineering talent that can do what needs to be done from a tech point of view,” he said.
“Then the question becomes how do you get that to the customer, how do you drive the next generation of tech, which markets do you prioritise for distribution?”
At the same time, Wright said his operational experience and industry skills – he holds an aeronautical engineering degree from Cambridge University in the UK – were an important addition to his strategic thinking skillset.
“My background gives me confidence that I can add value in terms of asking the right questions when we appraise a new technology,” he said.
And looking ahead, Wright said a key advantage for Hydrix was the company’s ability to separate technology that had a legitimate commercial application from a broader field of “good engineering ideas”.
“You can fall into a trap of thinking every good idea that gets developed on a lab bench is a business in the making, but it doesn’t always work that way. You need to know what works and what a customer needs,” he said.
“A lot of companies do that internally, but it doesn’t breed the same sense of urgency, whereas for us it’s our core business model; we get paid by clients to do that.
“As a result, I think our development team is match fit in that area. Not all companies have that discipline from operating day to day with a client focus.”
“It breeds strong processes and creates a fast-moving and highly focused engineering capability — which isn’t easy to come by,” Wright said.