20 Jun 2016

Interview with the chairman, Kevin O'Donovan

What's your background?

After a degree in Biological Sciences I commenced a PhD at one of the London medical schools. After a year I realised that research was not really for me so I started as a salesperson in a Life Science Research Instrument company. I turned out to be a pretty good salesman and, after completing an MBA whist working as marketing manager for the same company, I started my own business in 1986.

This was in equipment for molecular biology research and DNA fingerprinting, it grew rapidly and was sold in 1994.


What was your first ever job? Do you miss it?

Working in a Bakery in Cardiff over the school holidays. The one thing I remember most is burning my fingers when handling the bread! The regular workers called me a softie.

What were your favourite subjects at school and why?

Biology and Physics, I always liked them.

How did you end up working in the field you’re in?

For the last 20 years I have been a Business Angel, investing in and directing the growth of small to medium size Life Science Companies. However I have never been involved in an Analytical Chemistry business so when the chance came up to be Chairman, and an investor, for Specac I jumped at it.

Where do you see the spectroscopic industry in ten years? Do you see any obstacles?

Well it is a mature business so many of the products made now will still be around in 10 years  time. I think we will see significant growth in Spectroscopy for Process control.

Give us your top five places you’ve ever eaten and why.

  1. Doyles seafood restaurant Sydney Harbour. Great food and an even better view.
  2. Henrys fish and Chips in Twickenham, best I have ever had.
  3. Brasserie du Nord next to Gare du Nord in Paris. Fabulous d├ęcor and ambience with fresh seafood in from Normandy every day.
  4. Mother India in Glasgow. Been there for 20 years and always excellent.
  5. Da Nellos in Guernsey. Great Italian with wonderful ingredients.

What words do you live by?

Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today

Coffee or tea?

Tea first thing, coffee during the day, green tea at night