George Richardson is CEO of AeroCloud, a Macclesfield-based technology company.
Launching in 2017 and touted as one of Tech Nation’s regional rising stars in 2020, AeroCloud is on a mission to revolutionise airport operations using cloud-native technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
He shares his career highlights, tips and advice.
How did you first get into your industry?
I was drawn into the aviation industry after being introduced to my co-founder (Ian), who’d had a long and successful career of working with airports. As someone who had retired from a thrilling career in motor racing, I was looking for a new challenge where I could make a real impact and create positive change. The aviation industry – and airport technology, in particular – presented itself as an exciting opportunity. Heavily dominated by a few legacy players and crying out for innovation, I saw tremendous growth potential for a company that could create better digital solutions to the operational challenges airports are facing.
After a couple of years devising potential business ideas, Ian and I launched AeroCloud – an intelligent SaaS airport management platform that allows executives and operational teams to make data-driven decisions to solve the complex challenges they face every day. In less than three years, we have partnered with 43 customers in the UK, Europe and US, with our software processing more than 150+ million passengers annually. And now, I’m proud to say, I’m a complete aviation geek!
What do you love about your job?
I’m passionate about creating thriving teams and dynamic processes that drive business growth. Whether it’s finding new customers, leading the sales charge, or connecting with investors to identify game-changing leaders, I relish the challenge of building a strong foundation for success. Nothing beats the feeling of empowering others with the tools and resources they need to achieve their goals and exceed expectations.
Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?
Inspirations and motivators change throughout time. My family were incredible supporters and motivators. Now I speak to as many people as possible and take what I can do to become the best version of myself. On the other side, people telling me ‘I can’t’ always adds rocket fuel to my already optimistic personality!
What are the biggest challenges about your job?
Honestly, absolutely everything is a challenge. But I for one thrive on a challenge. The satisfaction of solving problems and overcoming obstacles is truly unbeatable.
What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?
There are five things that I believe have led me to the position I am today. First, my naivety. Some may see it as a weakness, but I see it as a strength. It allows me to approach challenges with fresh eyes and an open mind. And I have been lucky enough to partner with a co-founder that had much more extensive sector expertise, which meant together we were able to address legacy challenges in airport operations in a new way.
Second, my persistence. I never give up on what I believe in, even when the odds are stacked against me. I know from my years in motor racing, no matter how bad it looks, it’s ultimately down to you to stay in the race. And this comes back to my third point, that no how hard I fall I always get back up and continue to fight. Fourth is my ability to trust in myself. I know that I have the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions. And I also know that I have the awareness and openness to seek feedback and opinions from others, so I benefit from more diverse perspectives and collaboration.
And last but not least, my passion. It’s what fuels me every day and reminds me why we’re building what we’re building.
What was your first salary and what could someone getting into the industry expect to earn nowadays?
That’s a tricky one as my first career was in motor racing is not your typical first job! I would say the first proper annual pay cheque however I got from that was around £40,000.
If you truly believe in what you’re building, you should be prepared to work for anything. At 30 years old, I knew it was time to take the plunge and leave the comfort of my mother’s home to start paying myself from my business. However, the road to achieving my goals was not an easy one. I firmly believe that if you want something bad enough, you must be willing to put in the work, even if it means doing it for free. Trust me, the satisfaction you’ll feel from achieving your dreams will make all the effort worthwhile.
What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?
In my opinion, and from my first-hand experience, I would definitely say sport. When it comes to building a team, nothing teaches you values quite like sport does. There’s just something about being part of a team, striving towards a common goal, that instils a deep understanding of teamwork and collaboration.
And as for being a great CEO, forget about all those fancy degrees and training programmes. In my opinion, the most important qualities are an open attitude, solution-based thinking, persistence, and a passionate drive for change and progress.
What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?
If someone is looking to become a CEO, my advice would be to maintain an open attitude and keep looking for solutions, persist through challenges, trust in oneself, and seek feedback and diverse opinions. And never lose your passion. These qualities have led me to my current position, and I believe they are essential for anyone seeking to become a successful CEO.