Physics alumnus Tom Black (1981)
Tom Black is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Detica Group plc. He received his BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics at Strathclyde in 1981. (See also: http://www.detica.com/indexed/Director_TomBlack.htm)
I studied physics because I have a general fascination with how the world around me works and I gain great a satisfaction from understanding the rules by which everything operates. Physics is a great basis in that it’s an academically respectable topic with which to demonstrate your intellectual credentials. More importantly, my degree taught me the scientific method of analysing problems and made me a rigorous analytic thinker.
In my time at Strathclyde, I enjoyed the unfettered access to very high quality staff (then led by the late Edward Eisner) and also the very high quality of the peer group who studied with me.
I left Strathclyde in 1981 and went on to complete a DPhil in the Materials Dept at the University of Oxford entitled "Fundamental aspects of radiation damage in Cu 3Au". My interest in radiation damage had been aroused by my final year project at Strathclyde, which was undertaken at JRC Ispra.
I joined Smith Associates in Oct 1984. This was a small defence research business (about 30 staff) that carried out research under contract for the UK government, mainly in sensors & signatures and IT/Communications. I have stayed with this business ever since although we have transformed it considerably since those early days. It now has 1200 staff in the UK & US and is focused predominantly on extracting intelligence from large complex data sets. In 1997, I led the management buyout of the founders and the flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
In the past, I have flown on anti-submarine warfare missions when testing algorithms for submarine detection and tracking. Now that I am CEO, my role is highly varied. Much of my time is spent on starting and monitoring subsidiary businesses (for example, www.streamshield.com) and expanding our embryonic US business as well as acquiring suitable businesses into the Group. I particularly enjoy creating new businesses from scratch using only new ideas and expertise.
Away from work, my time is spent with my family (3 teenage daughters) and I enjoy travelling, skiing, running & keeping fit and fast cars.