Sally Basker: Chief Executive Officer, Exeter Science Park Ltd
B.Eng (Hons) Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham; PhD Satellite Navigation, University of Nottingham; MBA, Henley Business School; Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation; Civil Service Top Management Programme.
Biggest professional achievement to date?
In 2007 I led a multi-disciplinary team that procured a new navigation service using an innovative c. £10M / 15-year public-private partnership contract. This was new to all of us. We successfully overcame institutional, legal, financial and technical (e.g. automation) challenges as well as the need to motivate two competing teams to bid. We were on a very tight schedule and completed the process in six months.
Most profound, life-changing, business moment?
I was awarded a PhD in satellite navigation (GPS) in 1990 and then spent the next twenty years developing a career as a technical expert, business consultant and leader in the global navigation sector. In 2011, I was appointed interim Head of Business Development for the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Getting quickly up to speed with a new technology (nuclear fusion) in a new sector, gave me confidence that I could transfer and apply my knowledge, skills and experience. Not being a technical expert meant I had to improve my people skills to build and lead effective, multi-disciplinary teams. It also meant that I could focus on the structural aspects of new business development and we created a £20M order book over a two-year period. In hindsight, this was an essential career-building activity without which I probably wouldn’t have got my current CEO role.
Best life advice ever received?
Life is not a dress rehearsal.
Advice for a young woman stepping into the world from school, college or uni?
Be clear about your own values. Be clear about what you want to achieve personally and professionally. Seek mentors. Develop expertise. Learn to work with people, to identify and communicate your needs/wants, to manage risk and to deal with success and failure. Work hard. Be kind to yourself and to others. Go for it!
Which book has had the greatest influence on your life?
In the early 2000’s I had a demanding consultancy role and recognised that I needed to improve my time management. I went on a course run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing where the course book was Managing Time: Loving Every Minute by Peter Green.
Exeter Science Park is a micro-SME. Inevitably, there are many demands on my time and I have to focus on doing the right thing. I don’t always get it right and so I return frequently to Peter Green’s book as a way of reviewing and improving my own performance.
If you could make one change to the world?
End discrimination that prevents individuals and society from realising their potential.
The most influential woman in your life?
I’m going to cheat slightly and choose Hedy Lamarr. She was not only a great actress and WW2 fundraiser but also the inventor of a radio guidance system based on spread spectrum and frequency-hopping technologies. Their principles underpin GPS, Wifi and Bluetooth.
What does 2018 hold for you?
I’m just completing my first year at Exeter Science Park where we have reviewed and revised our vision, mission, objectives, strategy and business model. In 2018 I am focused on building my team and delivering our strategic objectives.
In the work environment it’s all about working together with people and diverse, multi-disciplinary teams are needed to make better decisions and to deliver value. Kindness makes a real difference and is frequently under-valued.
Video From The Celebration
100 Most Influential Women 2018
Grow Exeter Magazine launched the ‘100 Most Influential Women 2018’ in Exeter and the region in December 2017 and we received around 500 nominations for influential women from all walks of life; our panel was spoilt for choice and hard-pressed to select only 100 from the talented nominees that they viewed. The Launch of the ‘100 Most Influential Women’ awards in 2018 has perhaps even more value than in any other year as it was just 100 years ago that the first woman was granted the right to vote in the UK.
Women have truly shown that they can shine in any environment, whether that be in the boardroom, teaching our children, climbing mountains, navigating uncharted waters, they can do anything that they set their mind to and we can’t wait to celebrate our own talented 100.
Honouring women in our March edition of Grow Exeter fell in line with International Women’s Day on the 8th March and the 100 finalists have each been featured in this special edition. To see the 100 finalists individually featured, please grab a copy of our March edition by ordering through the link below. We will be publishing each woman online throughout March and April so keep an eye on our Facebook page or website for their stories.
A huge congratulations to everyone nominated and to the #100WomenExeter, you are all amazing!