Michael Valente, chief executive officer, Western Europe region, TÜV SÜD AG
BSc honours (first class) in physics from St Andrews University, MBA from Strathclyde Graduate Business School in Glasgow
Why did you first choose to study physics?
A curiosity to understand and predict what makes the world go round. Additionally, it allowed me to keep my future career options open.
What does your current work entail?
My work entails ensuring the smooth running operational aspects of the Western European business as well as developing the longer-term strategic perspective. I’m responsible for some 2,500 staff and €300 m of sales spanning the UK, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, Benelux and Scandinavia.
The annual cycle of strategy development and budget planning, together with evaluating new business opportunities, investments and acquisitions, keeps me very busy. However, the most important aspect is managing and motivating my senior management team. As such, my work schedule entails an extensive travel programme; however, given that my remit is for Western Europe, I normally manage to make it home late on Friday night. I am a great advocate of using video conferencing and Skype, however it’s still important to hold face-to-face meetings with the broader team and be seen at our many sites.
What did you do previously?
I have been lucky to have worked in a number of interesting businesses. After graduating I joined Shell International and trained as a petroleum engineer working in the Sultanate of Oman and in the Hague.
Following that I moved into more commercial and general management roles with Aggreko plc, latterly ending up as international sales director. Both these roles involved substantial international travel across the Americas, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
What does being a fellow of the Institute of Physics mean to you?
To act as a role model for STEM graduates whenever possible. Both my children also studied physics at St Andrews. My son now has settled in Vienna and works in the upstream oil and gas business and my daughter is a trainee physics teacher in Potters Bar.
What other involvement do you have with the Institute’s activities?
I am not currently active, owing to my broad ranging work commitments. However, I enjoy attending events such as the Innovation Awards at the Palace of Westminster and the annual awards dinner.