By Nitin Dahad, EETimes (June 20, 2021)
Last October, Imagination Technologies hired a new CEO, Simon Beresford-Wylie. He is Imagination’s sixth CEO in 6 years, and just like his predecessors he is committed to building on the company’s heritage in GPUs. The biggest question is if Beresford-Wylie can come up with a different way to do the same thing, only this time leading to sustained success.
Now almost nine months into the job, and with the lockdown in the U.K. easing, Beresford-Wylie was available for an exclusive interview at the firm’s revamped headquarters in Kings Langley, a rural setting about 20 miles north of London.
Simon Beresford-Wylie comes from a telecoms and broadcast industry backgroun. He is fully aware his office seems to be equipped with a revolving door. However, he quipped as we got into the introductions, “I’m a resilient person though; I will be here.”
Every new CEO always seems to have turnaround plans for a company, and Beresford-Wylie is no exception. When I talked to a previous CEO, Ron Black, in January 2019, he had the same sentiment (see: Imagination’s New CEO Plots Turnaround Strategy).
So, is it different this time? Beresford-Wylie is confident as the company has costs under control, turned a profit in 2020, has a clear plan on how to utilize the company’s GPU and mobile heritage, has investor backing for a long-term plan which includes a 10-year outlook for its RISC-V strategy; and he has an executive team aligned with his revamped strategy.
The latter is apparent as I walked around the building and as I met each executive in turn along the way, all were either amazingly on-message or really believed in the new strategy and were behind it wholeheartedly. I got the sense it was the latter, since they could see the initial positive results. For example, Steve Evans, the chief revenue officer, was bullish about sales growth and especially areas like electric vehicles (EVs) in China; and Tim Whitfield, the chief of engineering and recent recruit from Arm, also seemed geared up to apply his experience from over 20 years at Arm.
Beresford-Wylie was also keen to demonstrate how he is attempting to bring about changes to the office culture at Imagination. As an example, offices are now all open plan, with no offices or allocated desk for the CEO; and he’s done away with special designated car parking spaces for senior management. And if anyone wants a quiet workspace, there are enclosed cubicles available. And to facilitate hybrid working across geographies, they’ve invested in video conferencing facilities.
It all felt very much like a WeWork building, but fairly empty for now as people only have to come into the office optionally so not many people are in at any one time.
So, to the interview.
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