Who is Adrian Leu?
I’m a Romanian who came to UK 26 years ago. I’ve mostly worked at the intersection of creativity, technology and the business applications of this combo. I started from a software developer position and moved my way up to executive managerial positions during the past 10-15 years. I’ve served as CTO, Head of Innovation and Strategy, MD and CEO for a variety o companies both public and private, small and large. I have working experience in both software application development and delivery and project based companies (agencies). As full time employee, consultant and sometimes investor. I like to understand and apply emergent technologies (AR, VR, haptics, 5G etc) to solve problems, especially one with a social benefit. I am really interested in the ESG movement, done right. In my previous role as CEO of a London based tech agency called Inition we were named “the most cutting edge company in London” by the BBC Science magazine. That’s a lot of work behind that. I love working with people, coaching them, creating high performance teams, seeing the results. Very often I help turn around companies. It’s very rewarding.
Tell us more about your role in GameBench?
I’m the head of operations at Gamebench. My connection with them started 7 years ago, when I put the founders, which I knew through my connections with ARM, in touch with the initial investors. I have a minor shareholding in them. After a few years acting as a non-exec I joined them initially as a consultant 2 and a half years ago and then as full time last year. I’m excited by the proposition, the potential growth and the field. I am in charge of putting in place the resources and the operations that will sustain that growth.
What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?
I can answer both of those in one go because the most difficult is also the most rewarding one. I’m working with people and trying to align them to the same vision. When that happens, magic happens. It’s a difficult job since people are “non-linear”.
One has to carefully listen, and listen again, to what they do and what they say and how they perceive things. And then combine that with what you know and think and feel that the company needs. When that alignment happens, progress happens and the team works as one. But it’s a constant work of fine tuning. No day is the same.
One also needs to make bold decisions when things are not working and solutions have been exhausted. It’s tough sometimes but once you have a vision of where you want things to go, you go back to that vision and your planned mission to get there and take the right decisions. I like the concept of “radical candour”, which allows everyone to voice their opinions and their concerns. With the right framework for that, this leads to transparent culture. However, people seem to want the right to speak by default but not always the responsibility of listening. The latter is a wonderful “muscle” which needs exercising.
Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?
Interesting question because I don’t fall in the category of people who think that hindsight is wonderful. I prefer foresight. But one thing that I would change is the amount of investment in my training and education. One can get very bogged down in the day to day job and forget that this daily cycle is good only if it doesn’t keep you away from invention, innovation and the larger picture vision. One way to achieve the latter is to look and learn from what others have experienced. So definitely I would invest more time in learning. The other thing which is important is always to have a mentor, someone who can guide you, coach you and be the yardstick of excellence. It’s very important.
What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?
We work with a good list of major, large clients from the gaming, telcos, operators and device manufacturers sectors. We provide analysis and monitoring tools and services that help them quantify and qualify the technical performance of their systems and services inside that ecosystem and in comparison, with their competitors. We want those clients to adopt a “performance by default” attitude and use us as their main partner in helping them deliver and improve that. Hence our strategy is a “land and expand” one with the aim of becoming strategic long time partners for our clients.
This requires a lot of effort from our side on a few important directions – R&D, with accent on the “D”, to provide up to date insights on what are the most important performance metrics to judge a service by, refinement and improvement of our tools and a strong culture of serving our clients extremely well. Our vision is to become the major player in the Gaming Performance Management market helping our clients deliver an outstanding experience for their clients. It’s a constantly changing market both from a technical and a commercial offering and it pushes us constantly.
What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?
Our industry, which has gaming at its core but also covers mobile and network (fixed and wireless) operators, device manufacturers and streaming platforms, has fared quite well during the pandemic. Like movie streaming, the gaming industry has seen a big boost in sales during the past 18 months due to the quarantined conditions people found themselves in. Services like Steam (which had a record 23 million concurrent players during March 2020!), Twitch and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass have seen a big jump in their subscriber numbers. Obviously, some other areas, like eSports, normally played in arenas, and major events like GDC, MWC etc have been cancelled last year. We’ve seen clients, especially game publishers and platforms, adapting very quickly to the new way of working from home. That has brought in some delays to expected titles but it’s an industry that is resilient and will continue its growth, maybe at a slower pace once people will be able to enjoy other types of entertainment outside of their homes.
I am generally optimistic about the economic recovery while I hope that we exercise the memory in terms of what we learned from this pandemic.
Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.
Currently, the technologies that we deal with on a daily basis are 5G, streaming and cloud gaming. But we are also looking ahead to Virtual and Augmented Reality and their impact on gaming, training and experiential. We are also keeping a close eye on the development of the internet of things applications.
What books do you have on your nightstand?
I read multiple books at the same time and I don’t always finish them. Not sure if that’s good or not but I prefer to have time to think about what I read and put that in my small framework of the world. See where different concepts fit (or not!). I am a slow reader. And hence the pile of books of my nightstand is quite a tall one. At the moment, I have On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, Effortless by Greg McKeown, Livewired by David Eagleman, Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker (I live wines and always wanted to know more about them!), The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki and Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz by Whitney Balliett (jazz is one of my passions and I like this book because I can dip in and out of it).
Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.