Q&A – Mike Clinch, Chair of IOM3 TCB

6 Apr 2020

Natalie Daniels speaks to TCB Chair Mike Clinch about working and leading the IOM3 Strategic Advisors.

Tell me about your background.

I consider myself a materials person first and foremost, one that happens to have spent most of their career in and around the aluminium industry but with some composites experience thrown in for good measure. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work in some exciting positions in industry, both in the UK and USA, with a focus on developing and commercialising new technologies and products. This has usually involved building partnerships spanning the best of industrial and academic worlds. Overall, I like to work in the ‘sweet spot’ where technology, processes and people come together to deliver sustainable strategic growth. Any organisation – or partnership – is only as good as the people that make it. It’s also very important to have some fun along the way.

How did you become involved with IOM3?

My first job after graduating was at Alcan International Banbury Laboratories when I was first encouraged to be a member. My level of interaction started to increase when I transferred from Alcan to Luxfer and started a PhD at the University of Nottingham, UK. This was made possible after I was awarded an Industrial Fellowship by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 – the first of two life-changing opportunities during my career. The generous support from the Royal 1851 Commission allowed me to travel extensively while completing my PhD and I was invited to join the Younger Members’ Committee (YMC) after presenting at one of the early Materials Research Conferences.

I also got involved with the East Midlands Materials Society (EMMS) and was invited to join the Light Metals Division (LMD) shortly after it formed. I didn’t realise at the time that I would eventually end up Chair of the YMC President of EMMS and Chair of the LMD. Thankfully, the roles did not occur at the same time.

The contribution I am probably most proud of to date is my involvement in bringing the World Lecture Competition to California in 2013. This came about as a result of me building a relationship with the Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside, USA, during my time as VP of Technology & Innovation at Luxfer, USA, and introducing them to IOM3. The winner of the first ever YPLC heat at UCR went on to win the WLC final in London in 2012.

What were you most looking forward to about becoming Chair of the Technical Communities Board (TCB)?

I have a passion for innovation, collaboration and engaging with people. The TCB was set up with all these things in mind so it seemed like too good an offer to refuse. The opportunity also came at a time when public awareness of materials is on the increase – for both good and bad reasons – so we have some important work ahead of us as a professional community. The TCB can act as a great platform for bringing people together and ensuring we are all working for the common good.

How have you found the last year?

It has gone quickly. I have been especially impressed with how the Strategic Advisors and Institute support staff have come together as
a team. It is hard to believe we didn’t know each other 12 months ago. There is a lot of positive energy around the team backed by a strong determination to make a positive impact for the technical communities and broader membership.

What do you feel are the main priorities for IOM3 going forward?

We have a lot of important work to do. I strongly believe that there has never been a better time to be in materials. This is a message that I have been getting across while lecturing to undergraduates recently and
was very firmly reinforced in the keynote talks at Materials Research Exchange 2020. Materials have a key role to play in tackling many of society’s grand challenges. We need to come together as the recognised voice in materials, minerals and mining to help people make informed decisions on using the right materials for the right applications, sourcing those materials responsibly, and using them sustainably.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I have always enjoyed travelling and embrace the opportunity to experience different cultures. In addition, I am a keen sports fan and enjoy going to football games with my two sons, who are both qualified mini-soccer referees. My biggest vice is horse racing – I own a share in a horse with a few friends so we get to go to meetings around once a month. We have finished second on a couple of occasions but haven’t quite made it to the winners enclosure yet!