Episode #60 Interview with Justin Bain

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On this episode of the NewyTechPeople Podcast we interview Justin Bain, CEO at 3ME Technology. We discuss the projects happening at 3ME, Justin’s background in the military and how this has helped him in his current role.

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Show Notes

Here you can source all the things we have talked about in the podcast whether that be books, events, meet-up groups and what’s new in the newcastle tech scene.

Time Frames:

00:37 – For those who don’t know who you are, give people a bit of an overview. 

01:23 – Can you give people an overview of what you do at 3ME?

02:45 – How did 3ME start?

03:55 – How did the army set you up for this role?

06:25 – How have you gone about growing your team at 3ME?

07:10 – Where have you seen the macro trends from the battery space impacting 3ME?

08:00 –  Exciting projects Justin has been working on.

08:44 – Breaking down what Justin is doing at 3ME these days.

11:07 – Staying niche.

12:00 – Projects currently underway at 3ME.

13:00 – What problem do you solve with the business?

14:28 – Are the multiple vehicles running this platform now?

15:50 – Saving machines.

17:45 – growth at 3ME.

21:50 – Future plans for growth at 3ME. 

24:50 – Culture at 3ME.

26:30 – Why Newcastle?

29:50 – Advice for those wanting to get into to Stem or coding. 

31:11 – Have you had mentors in your career?

32:25 – How do you best manage your day?

34:50 – What resources would you recommend to our listeners?

35:50 – Is there anyone you follow online you would recommend to our audience?

36:40 – Advice for a younger Justin. 

37:44 – Easiest way to get in touch with Justin. 

 

 

Transcription:

James: welcome to another episode of new tech people today we have justin bain ceo of 3me technology welcome justin.

Justin: thanks james pleasure to be here.

James: i learned about 3ME probably six to 12 months ago and was my mind was blown that uh a story like three main technologies is local to newcastle i couldn’t believe what you guys were working on. For those that don’t know who you are because i believe you are sort of a hidden secret, can you give people a bit of an overview?

Justin: yeah we have been hiding away in in cardiff there chipping away. it’s great been in the business for three years now to come up for a breath and and get out and and talk about what we’re doing but yeah so 3ME technology we do electric vehicle systems for mining military and marine applications we’re a prime systems integrator with the proprietary battery system and a few other bits of tech on it on their way.

James: all right mate let’s break that down a little bit for people that don’t know what it is like i’ve walked into into your offices in the warehouse there and we’re seeing you know big diggers and you know big mining machinery which have been retrofitted with batteries for people that don’t understand can you give people a bit of an overview of what you guys sort of do in layman’s terms?

Justin: sounds good i was going to delegate that answer to you and say you know when you came out to cardiff what did you see what did you think but yeah that’s right we uh we generally on the on the workshop floor have at least you know one two three four different platforms undergoing various stages of integrations so that may be a retrofit so from a diesel platform over to full battery electric which we do with our close vehicle oem partners and then we also build batteries for the highest deepest and toughest applications.

James: yeah right highest deep is toughest so we’re talking military i know i’ve seen like a little four by four vehicle that you were doing that was to be used in the military as well as you know deep underground mining vehicles.

Justin: yeah so talking through the highest so at the moment we’re building batteries for a large eev tool a large cargo drone partner and then talking deepest underground mines has been a big focus of the company battery systems battery electric vehicle systems for mining applications and then in the marine sector yeah some projects are in the pipeline in that space as well but yeah toughest toughest talking to the defence military applications a few projects on the books there from soldier system battery systems through to electric vehicle systems.

James: We’ll get to the the office fit out the warehouse fit out in a second because i was super impressed when i went out there but for those that don’t know where 3ME came from or how it came from this startup to scale up journey can you give people an overview?

Justin: yeah so the company has had a long history of research and development in the automotive electric vehicle space and then i was approached around towards the end of 2017 by one of the investors in the company and said hey the company doing cool stuff electric vehicle systems uh we want to take it into the mines we want to take it into the military and we want your help help doing it.

James: yeah nice you come from an army background right?

Justin: yeah that’s correct.

James: why is a guy like you approached to come and join this company.

Justin: yeah so i was an officer in the army i went through duntroon the royal military college down in canberra i was a signals officer initially so i guess you know technical background in regards to that but in a broad management perspective i guess what officers in the army do is problem solving strategy leadership and yeah blank sheet of paper for the business plan get on board sort it out.

James: so we’ll stay there for a sec so the army best set you up with that sort of the more leadership skills is that probably the best platform that the army provided you for your career?

Justin: yeah i’d say so yeah definitely certainly from the human resources management perspective you know you manage small teams large teams um you know work in conjunction with with foreign nationals foreign militaries so very broad leadership experience.

James: yeah nice and then you’ve obviously been able to take some of those core skills and take them out out from army world into you know corporate world or startup world which is obviously going through those those growth pains as well that come along with startup to scale up.

Justin: yeah definitely i think a lot of the skills are very transferable.

James: i think you touched on it just then obviously your startup to scale up you know does require a lot of resilience and that’s that’s certainly something that you pick up in in your time in defence yeah cool i think the other the other part as well is just that they’re having to wear many hats right you sort of made mention of it before in the army you’re having to problem solve and you know look at different situations and probably play different parts within your role in different situations and then you’ve obviously taken that to the startup world.

Justin: yeah definitely multiple hats when you’re running a tech company we’ve got a diverse workforce and we do a lot of engineering we do the tech development you know we’re progressing into production obviously there’s arms of you know getting cash in the door to keep the business on its fast trajectory so yeah it’s very much a multi-multi-hat job.

James: yeah it’s it’s interesting to hear from my perspective there are going to be a lot of tech professionals in particular and you’re obviously the ceo of a tech company now coming from that army background you’re not the first i don’t think, i think i have one other guy on here that had that military background, he spoke very very strongly again of leadership and team building as a you know core aspect but it’s definitely not the common path for the ceo of a tech startup.

Justin: yeah i think i think when you’re when you’re in the military you know say as a troop commander i mean you’re solving problems you’re pulling together either a team to just to plan a mission um you know whether it’s it’s more more deliberately planned or whether it’s a you know short short notice type thing but you you’re getting people together in a room with different capabilities uh and you and you’re solving a problem and you know that’s what we’re doing at 3m we’re solving solving problems.

James: yeah nice now you and you’ve got three core markets here you’re solving problems for, how have you gone about building out and seeing its remake because as you said you’ve gone from a smallish team to growing and growing pretty rapidly and i know you’ve got good solar plants ahead aggressive plans ahead for future growth so how have you gone about growing that team there?

Justin: Yes i think that the the growth has started initially i mean when the team was very small there’s a lot of recommendations from yep we know this person let’s get them on, working on the exciting tech the recruitment has been been pretty easy and then now getting into that next next stage of growth and obviously we’ve used you at new tech people for recruitment and we’re you know we do get also a lot of direct approaches. you know people might see a snippet of something on linkedin or in the media and say hey you know there’s electric vehicle systems doing it in newcastle interesting markets keen to get involved.

James: yeah definitely i think your company or industry are definitely appealing to a lot of people speaking of which that whole battery is a it’s a global trend i think it’s going to continue to grow where have you seen i guess the macro trends from that space you know impact 3mE?

Justin: yeah so i mean there’s a global energy transition happening at the moment and obviously a core part of that is batteries even with hydrogen systems and other you know future fuel cells you know batteries still play a huge part in this transition and there’s a lot of people doing batteries and a lot of large multinationals doing batteries so where we’re targeted is that highest level of safety and compliance and systems that are more modular and scalable to meet our customers requirements.

James: yeah nice mate i’d love to talk about some of these projects in a little bit of detail it’s fascinated me learning more and more about them so if you had to talk about you know that’s a couple of the most exciting projects you’ve been working on of late or coming in the future i’m sure some of them are still confidential but let’s talk about the ones we can and what are some of the more exciting projects from your side yeah i was going to say the most most exciting ones are in the in the tents uh so we’ve got a few tents set up now for for the more private projects that are progressing along but uh yeah certainly you know just comparatively excitable with bortana ev project that we did in collaboration with safescape so that was the electrification of a three and a half tonne utility vehicle mostly focused in underground mines but obviously can be used in a number of other applications.

James: right, so i came out and saw your offices in the warehouse in all these vehicles there as well as obviously the tekken cars were working on stuff which is way above my technical knowledge mate you live and breathe it every day for those who don’t know what it is, can you break it down you know what are you guys doing on a day-to-day basis?

Justin: yeah just off the back of that i think i’m not i’m not one of those smart technical people either so um i think our chief bd officer generally does a good intro and says you know the business is full of you know a huge number of smart smart people growing number of smart people uh of which jb and i are not.

James: we need we need our type as well.

Justin: i’ll explain to you what a battery electric vehicle system is, that’s a pure battery powered system. we’re also involved in some hybrid projects but breaking down say the bortana ev it has two batteries, one in the front one in the rear these batteries are assembled by 3me in cardiff we have a proprietary battery management system and a proprietary cell management system which is where i guess our point of difference comes into play with the provisional patent that’s in progression and so we build the batteries, the batteries get installed the batteries connect to a power distribution unit that has one stop safety shock with isolation and other requirements to meet mine site specs there’s a charger there’s a motor so the system runs dc but the motor controller is effectively like an inverter and then we have a permanent magnet motor which is like i could almost lift up the one in a three and a half ton vehicle but you know 350 newton meters of torque. you know highly efficient great tech so we import the motors uh we have a custom charger in partnership with a dutch us company we build the batteries and make a system. the software ties it all together.

James: yeah which is another core part of the business the vehicle control system architecture so a really key point for you guys is obviously the building of the batteries and that building of those integrations between the systems.

Justin: yeah so what we’re not a vehicle oem so we’re working in conjunction with vehicle oem partners so we’ll assist them with maybe just supply batteries it may be a full system integration it may be just a individual component that they don’t have as part of their broader architecture so we have that kind of sliding scale of products and services.

James: i love that, i love companies that know exactly what they do what they are and what they’re not and they don’t try to be everything to everyone i think there’s some real success in really knowing your spot and being just really good at that have you guys seen some success on the back of hey this is what we do we do it better than anyone and then just the build and growth from there.

Justin: yeah definitely um i mean one of our core values is nail our niche and so you know batteries if the company was like an onion ring you know at the core is our battery system outside of the battery system is the software that ties together the battery and also the vehicle architecture and then we have this exclusive access to some certain components around the periphery digitization space that we’re driving into as well because the systems are deployed in the field we’re getting the data off them we’re supporting them remotely and so what we’ve done quite recently is broken our technology down into three key pillars or calling them spears so they’re not silos but and we’ve got power solutions digitization and mobility as the three core pillars.

James: yeah nice and out of those projects uh i’m sure there’s some exciting things that we can’t talk about here but for the things we can talk about can we go into a couple of those projects that yeah you’ve been excited about working on.

Justin: yeah so what is in the in the public domain is a project called project ev mine so electric vehicles mine as part of that was the electrification of the bortana ev and the tritiv in conjunction with our vehicle oem partners and aeros resources being one of the mining companies so that was a three year long project. because it went from its infancy of you know planning on plans on a page to modeling through to the system integrations through to the trials out at mines and what’s really exciting is that these these projects it hasn’t just been r d they’re into production you know we’re into beta phase we’re into production and and they’re ramping up so that’s that’s been a core focus in the in the mining industry.

James: mate on those just for a second before we go into the next phase because i’m sure defense might come in here as well yeah but in particular that mine what does your project mean for mining companies or for the the actual machines themselves what problem do you solve there?

Justin: yeah so three words would be safety performance and sustainability yeah so i guess diving into the safety aspect you think of an underground mine you know you’ve got a you’ve got miners down there surrounded by vehicles that are pumping out diesel exhaust there’s heat you know it’s noisy and then you think about replacing that vehicle with a battery electric vehicle that is almost silent so very quiet heat generation is reduced significantly which impacts a lot on the ventilation infrastructure we’re trying to pump air conditioning down into these mines someone’s giving me the analogy one day about you know blowing down straws and you know the further you get down the mine and the pressure and trying to keep these places ventilated so you know we’re creating that uh removing the diesel particulate matter which is a known carcinogenic you know like asbestos yeah we’re creating a quieter environment from a hearing perspective.

James:yeah and a more enjoyable environment i mean the platforms you know drive better the one challenge is meeting the the duty cycles for for the range and we’ve been able to to do that through on-board charging infrastructure at the voltage for the underground mines so effectively. every location where they have these these jumbos all these dcbs becomes your charging network there are so this is uh you mentioned you still early ish in in this is uh we’ve got multiple vehicles out there running this at the moment is that where we’re at

Justin: yeah so the bortana ev safescape our partner they’ve they’ve deployed that underground in in bendigo underground over in wa the beta phase is in full swing so those platforms will be ramping up on mines this year the the tri-tev the 20-tonne large 20-ton loader is in its in its beta phase so there’s you know what is on the books and platforms getting getting built nice fantastic building a lot of that here in cardiff and then shipping it out yeah that’s right so i think that was on the safety side of things performance i think we covered in terms of you know the electric motors is you know instant instant torque and they’re far more efficient than combustion engines so the performance and the combining that those digital motors with our software profiles.

James: you’re able to uh have a road map to autonomy and and get a much much better performance out of the platforms all right you know sustainability is is a core focus of the business obviously reducing reducing the greenhouse gas emissions through taking those diesel platforms out of operations quite exciting seeing a lot of mining companies moving to having solar arrays and offsetting their their greenhouse gas emissions with renewables yeah and then i think you mentioned at some point to me in a different conversation about i guess saving some machines from you know the end of life as well and the potential to give them a longer life is that another part?

Justin: yeah that’s right so the the platforms we do achieve a lower total cost of ownership and the retrofit model so what some of the platforms are working on we’ll take a second hand one in conjunction with our partner we’ve got a great partner over in hexham batmobile equipment yeah you know they’ll prepare a platform we’ll supply equipment uh we’ll collaboratively retrofit that commission it and deploy it into operation so yeah it’s a second life opportunities uh whilst we’re churning through the retrofit phase and designing new platforms.

James: nice on top of that project as exciting as that is is there any other projects you’d love to talk about.

Justin: yeah so another one in the public domain is one called c4 edge so it’s a military project the evolutionary digital ground environment is the edge part and the c4 is the command controls computers communications i think i probably get smashed by some marine mates, sorry military mates on getting an acronym wrong after all my time in communications but yeah it’s a really exciting project where we’ve got 17 australian companies collaboratively working together to deliver a sovereign communication solution so battle management system solution.

James: And what does that look like for people that have no idea yeah so a battle management system is your common operating picture or your tracker you know so if you think of this tv screen there you you know you turn it on you can see where people are you can communicate across the force you know there’s radios involved there’s data involved it’s it’s quite a complex network and our part in that project is the battery system so the soldier level system and then progressing to an interoperable battery unit system.

James: wow how do these opportunities come about? obviously you’re in a multiple different fields now and you know going down the marine path as well how’s that growth come about for 3ME?

Justin: yeah i think you know one thing kind of leads to another in certain situations with this particular c4 edge project we were asked to present today at a showcase for a land tender of which we did and of which we’ve had some some positive progression in that space as well and then that led on to an introduction and and we managed to yeah to put our capability forward you know having having the operational background does cut through a lot of requirements because you don’t have to go on that steep learning curve of you know what’s required.

James: how does it fit in?

Justin: yeah we can you know from a battery perspective we can say we’re going to make it lighter and more energy dense than than our competitors.

James: yeah and as you said before i guess it just ties into what is the core of what you do you know exactly what you do and then you know you use that as you’re in and then you can build upon that right so very nice mate and have you seen have you seen i guess global trends play into the growth of where you’re at at the moment? obviously you know becoming more sustainable is a global trend as do people like elon musk help your causes?

Justin: yeah definitely, i mean what’s happening in the automotive space you know is is in my mind just the prediction of what’s happening in the you know broader industrial space so you know we’ve got a partner in in the netherlands who’s retrofitting construction equipment because of the paris agreement impacts on on greenhouse gas emissions obviously there’s a huge huge shift in automotive electric vehicles i mean my my mum’s in her you know 60s and for an electric vehicle and loves it and it’s like learning to drive again so yeah there’s a huge shift, most people i speak to say oh the next one you know next one’s going to be electric and i’d say that you know the four big trends in the automotive space and in this kind of electric vehicle spaces i think it was the ac es so the automation the connectivity the electrification and the shared mobility so you know these self-drive driverless cars aren’t you know too far away electrification i mean the range on some of these new teslas is you know is phenomenal there’s no that range anxieties out the door you know fast charging networks from companies like tritium up in brisbane another australian company the the shared mobility piece talks to like the ubers and turning your model 3 into a robo taxi.

James: yeah and connectivity and obviously they’re having all the data out there having all the systems interacting and all the smarts behind it.

Justin: yeah so you see it obviously where it’s oh we tipped the iceberg here yeah well certainly the tip the tipping the tipping point has occurred like it’s it’s it’s happening for those that aren’t in the industry it does feel like a you’re in the space race or the com days so driving hard and fast to be in the game and be at the top of the game.

James: yeah nice so obviously as you said the automotive industry is probably the one leading the path almost visible to everyone yeah where are the other industries that this is going to affect on track.

Justin: yeah and and just on the automotive piece i mean we we saw that coming and saw so the company previously working on automotive on-road platforms saw that and we did projects you know on volkswagens and mazda2s and things like that but you know we saw the shift was coming and went you know one of the hard targets that you know as a small australian company that we can go after and dominate before the wave comes and then build that strategic position and so the other other industries i mean it’s coming across the construction industry i think really good momentum growing in the mining industry and defence you know defence is kind of that longer-term horizon but starting to see the understanding and the uptake of the opportunities for electrification in the defence market.

James: nice mate the excitement of hearing about a start-up to a scale-up really excites me there’s a lot of companies that you know go through that phase and it’s really exciting to hear about their growth one of the challenges though is getting the right people on board obviously you’re facing that technical side of things super technical different variants of engineers electrical engineers software is playing a part in that how have you gone about going from very small team to currently mid mid to high 20s? that growth is going to continue to you know take on how have you gone about building that team out today?

Justin: yeah so collaboration is i mean it’s been everything as we as we’re growing and just being able to you know find the people who can gel with the team on a cultural front and you can inject them and they can just make themselves busy and then it’s almost that you know self-organising i know that’s you know one of the agile terms or whatever but we do find that the team kind of continues to self-organise itself and then and we kind of then hit a point we say all right you know stop we need to re-org how do we how do we get the next framework in place yeah but we keep the business very flat but you know there is obviously a core need for structure as well so trying to find that happy medium where we inject the next next level in.

James: yeah cool i think that’s it’s one of the growing pains for a lot of people is that structure i think there’s a lot of value in being small and agile and then you have success on the back of that and then you grow and you need more capability and how do you build those same you know small and agile principles into a growing team and it’s a challenge a lot of people face.

Justin: yeah i think i think one of the common misconceptions of someone who’s come from a defence background and say oh but you must have had so much structure and you had all the resources and like you know it must be really difficult for you you know growing things and and but the reality is you know in defence particularly on operations is you might get sent over with a couple of people you know with a handful of people and you’re starting things from scratch and you’re building capability and you you have to use the resources that you have to achieve an effect and then when you have the opportunity to get more resources then you start achieving more effects and you start growing the structure then you reorganise and you can keep growing but i think one of the really good things about you know defence people certainly from particular organisations is you know it’s a constant growing capability how do we make this better what do we do next.

James: yeah mate there’s a there’s a lot to do with that you know that agile consistent improvement i really like that and you’re up to the mid to high 20s at the moment what does future growth look like i know you guys are definitely on a growth curve what’s future growth look like for you?

Justin: yeah so we need to double the the tech and engineering team over the next 12 months at least we’re we’re driving into production scale up so there’s a you know a new production workforce that that we need to bring on board from a technical perspective i mean we’re pretty broad on who we can inject in the traditional software engineers mechatronics pcb hardware engineers and then on the electrical space it’s you know electrical engineers and electricians.

James: nice, exciting times exciting times that obviously challenging times as well challenging from a positive perspective in you know you’re just dealing with different challenges what might have been a challenge for you when you’re a really small team is the more technical side to you know when you’re at 20 and beyond it’s just different challenges you’re talking about people and culture challenges as well i know culture is a big important part and i think it’s come up in most of the conversations i’ve had with you which is it’s uncommon i would say you actually give that a lot more thought than most people probably have previously to a certain extent kind of compromised on culture.

Justin: when you’ve got such a small team and you’ve just got to deliver on capability but now we’re getting to that point it’s like no if i would it’s do not compromise on culture we’re growing the team but also in terms of culture i’ve probably tried to be less forceful on like this is how we’re creating the cultures what we’re doing and just kind of we just you know get on with business keep getting people who are aligned the right people align to the business into the business and just keep driving it forward and then it kind of you know it builds itself.

James: i guess the industry you’re in as well it probably provides you the opportunity to do that i think somebody that’s showing a keen interest in you know what 3me technology is about the industry that you operate in.

Justin: i think getting people those key interests in that can obviously lend themselves to positive culture i mean a great example is we’ve got to go on at the moment and he saw us on the news nba news with the electric loader yeah he contacted the company and said hey i’m studying mechanical engineering degree at the moment at uni you know i’ve got this 12 weeks work placement to do would love to you know if there’s an opportunity we said yep come on come on in and he’s been you know outstanding you know it’s been he’s been phenomenal unfortunately he’s part of a navy program we’ve got to send him back yeah but um no it’s it’s it’s been great just getting those direct approaches and driving ahead.

James: fantastic man as a growing company there’s obviously opportunities are plenty you guys continue to operate in newcastle and cardiff, why newcastle?

Justin: surf.

James: yeah that’s an easy one one line answer.

Justin: yeah one word answer yeah mate there must have been as you’re growing right you’re building out teams uh are you building out your team here the company’s growing here the um the newcastle offers a lot for 3me i mean we’ve got proximity to partners in the in the mining vehicle yeah space the port from an import export perspective as the business grows yeah you know we’re a stone’s throw from from sydney my perspective you know jump on a train if you need to go down for meetings or access resources that aren’t available you know from a high level corporate perspective access to the uni i mean the uni is churning out some some great you know next-gen technologists a few of them in the company and looking to continue to grow that out we’ve got the near the newcastle institute of energy and resources so i mean for us at the moment newcastle’s got everything we need including good surf.

James: nice you mentioned the university there as well you you obviously come from a military background you’ve got people there you’ve had mentioned you’ve got graduates coming through that you know university degrees you’ve got more technical people which obviously degree qualified is there have you found you know an optimum space or an optimum background for people really mixed i mean. if someone came through the door tomorrow morning and said hey i don’t have a degree but i’m self-taught in you know c-plus plus and i’ve designed this or whatever and and could demonstrate the capability that they could inject into the company then you know would would get them involved and obviously there are certain positions that from a legislative or you know compliance perspective do need those formal qualifications and we’ve got that in you know the electrical engineers and we’ve got that in the hardware engineers from design reviews and compliance but you know someone like that you know ideally you’d be able to support them injecting and being involved in the business concurrent to formalizing some of the skills that they need to.

Justin: yeah so whilst the degree is important for some of the positions or absolutely necessary for some of the positions it’s not for everyone.

James: yeah nice sounds like you’re finding a nice mix there as well because i think it’s something that’s ever-changing right especially with more and more people with you know raspberry pi and things like that are becoming technical and tinkering and i think you know that ability to tinker or the desire to it can be a really good indicator for somebody that might have some success in a place like 3me.

Justin: yeah for sure i mean we’ve got a work experience going on at the moment just finished school he’s heading off to do a double degree in mechatronics and common science and we’ve had him on board for some work experience and we’ve put him to work yeah because the skills that even they’re doing in at school now in stem and obviously he’s a passionate guy who’s been doing a lot in his own time but yeah it’s really exciting i mean even my little boy finn is five and you know got to get him started on on coding or bring him in on the friday afternoons.

James: yeah and how do you go about that i’ve got a seven-year-old myself who i think we got him uncodeable and there was another one another platform as well and he had a bit of a tinker with that in the holidays wait for let’s let’s start at younger age because we’ll go through but if you had to give any advice to somebody that’s got children that are interested i mean either stem or coding any advice?

Justin: yeah so there is there is a program that’s running in newcastle it escapes me maybe including in the notes whatever but it has been recommended for an entry level programming but i think there’s just there’s so much online now i mean that’s it’s you know you could sit down with your your son or daughter on on youtube and find the right thing and you know order a raspberry pi off off ebay and yeah and start tinkering.

James: yeah nice and then as they go through like i think newcastle university is absolutely fantastic and some of the people that are coming through there i think that the quality is fantastic um outside of uni degrees you mentioned people that tinker with it in their own time is there any advice you give to people or is it just straight up?

Justin: start playing yeah so start playing because we work in high voltage battery systems i’d say i’d have to get you know caveat that with safety yeah but i think it’s you know about networking with the with the right people that are you know have a head start in that space or have experience in that space you know finding yourself a good mentor or getting involved in programs that are already available yeah nice i think that mentorship as well you just made mention of that yeah it’s something that it’s definitely becoming more common i think as an advice piece is find somebody that’s been there done that before or somebody somebody that you can learn off yeah and lean on them.

James: have you had any any strong mentors in your career to date?

Justin: yeah definitely and i think it’s you’re right you need to you need to kind of wake yourself up every now and then and say you know i’m surrounded by you know these great people within the network you know why not reach out i did that recently with a family friend who’s based in new zealand you know he’s in the finance sector and and said hey you know what do you think and and he said oh you need to speak to this person do this and and that’s kind of kicked off a whole a whole new thing and yeah so certainly just having the i just just reached reaching out and and seeing who’ve you already got in your network that may be able to actually support you and people you know people if someone came to me and said “hey justin i see you’ve done this in the military you know like would you any advice on this you know which people have” it’s yeah like you it’s it’s great to be able to impart some advice.

James: yeah i think that as well i think i think most people don’t understand the the people that are being asked if you go about it the right way um some people are short on time everyone’s short on time i guess but most people will give that time and actually you know uh appreciate you know giving advice if somebody’s taking that on board so i think uh you know don’t be afraid to ask uh you’re you’re a busy man obviously you’ve taken a a small company to a you know growing significantly growing company and what are the sort of productivity tools that you’d use to you know to manage your day?

Justin: coffee yeah i did that well in terms of like i mean like software tools that you’d use to manage your day and manage your workload i mean we use this we use the standard rollout of the teams and the planner and all that sort of things um i think from a on a personal side of things i’ve kind of taken the step the step back now to kind of get away from a few of those things and and just make sure that i’m not it’s not information overload on on tasks and task management and that i am correctly prioritizing what are true high value activities and so the way i do that is i’ve got i think it’s almost like an a3 size piece of paper and it’s got you know the days down one side and i’ve just list my three high value activities for each of each one of those days to just hold myself accountable to doing the uh the hard things yeah and focusing on what what i believe to be truly you know high value problems to solve and i’m trying to i guess this year coming up for a bit bit more of a breath you know get back on top of the the healthy habits so yeah i’m i’m up in the surf every morning and yeah diet exercise rest recreation how to choose a mind tick them off each day that’s a challenge all right really very real challenge i think everyone especially during covert especially during covid but i think everyone you know that’s facing a you know highly stressful or you know entrepreneurial type role can easily prioritise work there’s always something more to be done right.

James: yeah definitely if you had 40 hours a day i’m sure you could work 40 hours a day or find 40 hours a day worth of things to do on a business right?

Justin: yeah no sure so yeah i’ve been more disciplined um this year in terms of like weekends uh weekends and obviously you know families so important and you know and when you are so busy time can fly by so you know i’ve got a little five-year-old and a three-year-old so it’ll make sure we’re prioritising time with wife and kids on the weekend so weekends are definitely family and and and that’s now being sustained and during the week is is pretty flat chat which is why it’s good to do this on a monday not on a friday it’s generally pretty fragged by friday.

James: i understand i did exactly myself and i’ve yeah not definitely not on top of the healthy life habits at the moment you know obviously none of this comes about by just chance  do you do any ongoing reading podcast any education you continue to look at for your ongoing growth?

Justin: linkedin’s not always the one you want to be recommending whatever but certainly in the electric vehicle space you know there’s a lot of good information that’s kind of constantly turning around i guess because i’m following the right things or the right people in that space so i do find that keeps me kind of on the you know on the edge of knowing what’s happening and what the announcements are and things like that but yeah i really i rely really heavily on the experts in the business that they’re you know researching excel technologies that they’re looking at motors and and just getting the constant feeds uh from them so that’s not trying to be the expert in everything but actually hiring the people to be specialists right.

James: oh yeah definitely i mean i think one thing i do is i don’t i don’t go deep unless i have to and yeah i think we’ve um we’ve got some great experts in the business and yeah i mean the idea is growing a business is to keep you know keep trying to have him define yourself make yourself relevant and and and get to the next level yeah nice obviously following people you mentioned linkedin there right i have the same thing if you follow the right people you know there is a lot of garbage here as well but i linked it can be valuable if you’re following the right people for the sort of right sorts of information so is there anyone in particular that you follow that you’d make recommendations for?

Justin: it’s quite focused on the ev automotive space but i follow a guy called James carter he does a lot of uh release stuff on on electric vehicles and so that’s a good one and then on the battery tech uh it can be a little bit adversarial but uh a guy called paul martin who’s he’s almost like a mythbuster.

James: yeah right.

Justin: you know someone makes a new release and then someone you know at paul mart and then he’ll kind of tear it up or you know get the data behind it so yeah there’s a couple ones off.

James: yeah nice it might give people that have got an interest in this you know somebody to follow as well people are always looking out for that mate if you had to wheel it all back and provide some advice for an earlier version of yourself and any key piece of advice that you think’s been life-changing?

Justin: i think on reflection i think when you are you know when you are flat chat whether it’s in the military or in a startup you know scale up i think you know you’ve really got to take the time sometimes to stop and you know enjoy the present or you know enjoy the process and so yeah certainly certainly focusing on that that this year and i’m really enjoying the process like even when things are are challenging going you know this is all part of the process and and i guess in focusing on the present a bit as well you know if you’re down at newy beach in the surf at sunrise it’s a good snap back into the present.

James: oh mate for sure yeah i think i mean i’ve read something similar before about you know just enjoy the process because you know the goals that you know you only have achieved that once right and it’s a long way to get there and sometimes it’s never as special as you you’d hope but if you enjoy the process along the way i think it’s a you know a lot more enjoyable to go through a day-to-day life you guys obviously growing we’ll do a quick plug mate if people are keen to sort of reach out to you or interested in joining your team at some point what’s the easiest way to get in touch with you?

Justin: i’m probably not super efficient on linkedin but yeah certainly reaching out over over linkedin and if you’re in in the newcastle area i mean we’re on moneybung road down there in cardiff you won’t miss us if you drive down moneybung so you know pull in knock on the door come through and have a chat yeah and obviously you know through the website if coming through on giving us a call.

James: yeah fantastic man thanks for your time today.

Justin: Excellent thanks cheers.

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