Hi, how are you today?
Hey, I’m pretty good thank you – coffee in hand so I can’t really complain!
Can you please introduce yourself in case some of our readers aren’t familiar with you?
Of course – so my name is Tom Ackrill, and I’m the Business Development Manager for a company called ITL. We’re experts in the design, development, and manufacture of medical devices and IVDs; and since 2018 have been part of G&H who in turn are world leaders in optical components and systems. It’s a pretty niche industry, and my job role really covers everything from sales, to marketing, PR, and legal on occasion – it really does keep me busy.
How did you get started in the industry?
I had a slightly sideways entry into this world to be honest. When I was leaving school, I wanted to do something with the sciences; and to cut a long story short I ended up doing an apprenticeship and earned my degree that way. After I’d finished that, I was shown a job at ITL, originally looking after the sales element of a laboratory brand we have in-house called Vitl.
The idea was that it was easier to teach a scientist to “speak Salesman” than the other way around, and so I was given a chance. I did that role for a few years and was later offered the opportunity to “try my hand” at the main business of ITL which is contract design and development. Then about five years ago, I was offered the role as BDM which I was more than happy to accept.
I really didn’t think I’d end up working in this sort of job role all those years ago as a student, I was planning on becoming a teacher, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
It absolutely must be the variety of “stuff” I get to see and do on a daily basis. I’ve been with the company for the best part of 11 years now, and I never have two days quite the same. One day I might be wrangling with a contract negotiation with a new client, the next I might be speaking to a group of students off-site somewhere, and the day after I could be talking with a company about their fantastic new project.
The absolute heart of it all though is that what we do helps people. We aren’t just making consumer electronics, or toys, or luxury goods; the pieces of kit being developed and designed within ITL are directly benefitting people around the world – and that’s an awesome, if not humbling feeling.
What is a problem in your industry that people don’t suspect?
Right now? Getting your hands on the various electronics components needed to build these incredible products. The whole world currently is just a bit of a mess on that front – it’s just been a bit of a perfect storm over the past couple of years with Covid, the situation in Ukraine, the growth of electric cars, 5G, etc. has put massive strain on the supply chain. I think it’s almost a daily occurrence now that something has slipped out on its lead time, and obviously we then must do our best to manage and mitigate that. Our purchasing and production teams right now, I think, are worth their weight in gold.
Why did you choose this topic for your webinar? Why should people tune in?
I think because it’s one that we see all too often when we are first talking to clients who have either designed their product in house, or perhaps have worked with a contractor who doesn’t have the same level of exposure to the manufacturing “world” that ITL does.
One of our big USPs is that we design AND we manufacture – and by nature it means that our engineers must design things that are able to be put together as needed. It sounds obvious, but the number of times we see missed opportunities in the design phase, that by the time you realise them, you’re already far too late to make changes without incurring significant costs what with the potential impact on regulatory testing, tooling, updating the design pack etc.
That then really snowballs all the way through the chain – you either can’t make the product in the necessary volume, or for the necessary price point which negatively impacts our business. Further up the chain, our customers can’t meet the demand from their customers, or worse they can’t meet the price point they need, and then of course right at the sharp end are the medical professionals and home users who then can’t get equipment that would make a huge difference, because there’s no budget, or insufficient budget in play.
Do you have any advice for younger people who are just getting started on their professional journey?
Don’t assume anything – otherwise you’ll almost always be wrong. And on that subject; be ready to get things wrong and take a slap on the wrist where necessary. We are all young once, and there are plenty of things I did in my 20’s that I look back on now and go “why?”. Luckily, I had a great management and board team during those formative years who were there to steer me along the right path.
To close off – how do you relax in your free time?
Nothing too exciting here I’m afraid! I have two dogs who obviously take up a chunk of my time, I also keep tropical fish and run a social media group (Freshwater Fishkeeping) on the subject as well as the occasional dalliance with writing articles for the leading hobbyist magazine in the UK.
With what little time I’m left after all that, I really enjoy walking, particularly in the hills of Scotland – it’s a long run up there to do it, but I always feel a sense of calm when I’m there.
You can register for Integrated Technologies Limited’s webinar “Start Small – Think Big” here: