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Finding the balance between competition and innovation

In our latest episode of Julius Baer’s True Connections podcast, Alan Hooks, Head of Private Clients UK, speaks with Nicola Mitchell, CEO and Founder of Life Scientific and recent winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Ireland Award about her journey as an entrepreneur, the importance of a strong network, and what the future holds for Life Scientific.




Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan and Nicola’s conversation:

Nicola is the first to admit that agrochemicals was not her greatest passion at the start of her career but what she was sure of was her goal of running a multi-national business. Of course, there are many people at the top of multi-nationals that they themselves did not found, but as Nicola explains, it was her father that suggested that they only way of truly realising all of one’s ambitions is to set up your own business.

That guidance from her family, Nicola explains, was key to her success and rooting hard work into her character. These support networks are often discussed by entrepreneurs that we speak with and Nicola is no different. Throughout the discussion, Nicola references the people that have helped her climb each step to success and highlights that it’s not only what you are doing, but why you are doing it that draws the support out of the woodwork. This reference to an organisation’s purpose is another key theme that is mentioned in many of our discussions with entrepreneurs and is often what drives individuals to succeed.

That network is also what helped Life Scientific expand on a truly global scale. Whether it’s the family ties from her father’s career as a chemist, those she met at Stanford Business School or the local distributors that she has partnered with along the way, all of them played their part in supporting the journey of the business. In fact, Nicola explains that she went as far as selling half of the business in order to scale and gain access to the French market, which at the time accounted for almost a third of the global agrochemical market. This is a great example of an entrepreneurs desire to be a part of something big. Nicola even mentions that she’d rather be a small part of something big than a big part of something small.

This mind-set is something that clearly translates to the rest of the business when listening to Nicola speak about the culture at Life Scientific. It is a culture that, as Nicola suggests, is quite different to other large R&D and multinational firms. It’s one of entrepreneurship and freedom to fail and one which is clearly a fertile feeding ground for new ideas. It’s that culture that allows Life Scientific to act as a disruptor in what is traditionally a very structured industry. As Nicola says, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

To hear Nicola’s story, please listen to the podcast using the player above.

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