Change the world with unique materials technologies
Meet Thomas, CEO of FeelInGlass, start-up of AGC Glass Europe
You are a CEO at an impressively young age. How did your journey to the role begin?
I was finishing my Engineering Masters and was looking to gain a role for after graduation. One of my good friends from university had started working in the AGC R&D Centre and told me that I needed to join. I wasn’t that interested in the role on offer at first. I thought it would be too academic and scientific. She convinced me otherwise, and I ended up on the team with her for six years.
What kind of innovations did you work on in your early years?
I had my opportunity straight away – to contribute to the bigger picture in renewables and sustainability. My first projects were focused on improving solar mirror technology and developing new solar glass for PV panels. After that, I worked with a start-up in Sweden on touchscreen panels. This is the first time that I created a new glass composition. At the same time, I was working on developing a new composition for thin glass. While being produced on standard float lines to substantially bring costs down, this new composition was supposed to achieve almost the same performance as the costly premium thin glass made on specific float lines. By 2016, we succeeded with a result even better than expected. Then came the first big change in my AGC career.
How did your career change?
Later in 2016, I was internally hired to develop the business for the new composition that I had recently created. Dream job. I could mix the technical aspect and the commercial side. I was using my skills as a project leader in R&D, but also working directly with the customers. I could hear their pains and needs, before going back to R&D to address them. It was a very exciting time. We saw that automotive was changing a lot. The interiors of cars were increasingly connected and needed more glass. Our product could be a major part of the car interior of tomorrow. Our first achievement was a dashboard completely covered in glass.
How has your development to reach senior leadership been supported?
A mix of activities – training, mentoring and support. I joined the JUMP Programme early (the Junior University Management Programme). It developed a wide range
of knowledge from finance and marketing to soft skills. You learn in the classroom, do assignments and practice on the job.
I’ve also had lots of different bosses during my time here. l learned a lot from them all, especially on the business side. They were good mentors. They allow you to progress in a field that is unknown for you – to develop yourself. I have colleagues in our Incubation factory who took an MBA, whereas I have built my skillset through the experience of my roles
What do you value most about working at AGC?
In a sense, I have the best of both worlds. Take my friend working in start-ups. They have freedom to do things their way, but all start-ups are constantly looking for more investment – and it is a big commitment often with limited rewards. Friends in big companies have stability and wider opportunities, but little freedom. Whereas we work in start-up mode and have a big company behind us.
In 2016 I was hired internally to develop the business for the new composition I created. I’d always wanted a career that went beyond science, something with real use. This balanced the technical with the commercial: my dream job!