Lee Cresswell, new sales director for EMEA at LynuxWorks, talks to Steve Rogerson in our series of interviews for CIEonline. Cresswell was appointed sales director for EMEA at LynuxWorks this year bringing with him 20 years of experience of embedded software sales. He was most recently director of international sales at Real Time Innovations, where he had responsibility for sales in the EMEA region including both direct and indirect accounts.
Prior to this, he held European sales positions with Certicom, Novell, Nexthop, Dexterra and Texas Instruments. He has also held a UK sales position with Wind River and he started his career in software development, including work with the Inmos transputer. Cresswell has an MBA from the London Business School and a BSc in computer science from the University of York.
He considers himself a MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) having re-discovered the joy of cycling after completing a three-day 300 mile charity cycle ride from London to Paris in 2010. Since then, he has tackled a four-day 400 mile ride from Aylesbury to the west coast of Ireland and a five-day 500 mile ride from Bilbao to Barcelona. He is now taking a year off from the endurance events, but will continue to ride for pleasure. Other interests include fitness, contemporary music and literature, and fine wine.
1. You worked on the Inmos transputer. In retrospect, how significant a product was the transputer?
It was my first job after university, and it was a very interesting first job. We were developing the compiler and tool chain for the transputer. I thought the transputer was a very innovative architecture and in hindsight it had lots of innovations. Its link architecture we still see in large distributed systems and applications such as radar and sonar. Although the transputer had a relatively short life, ST definitely recognised the value of the architecture and used it for some years in its families.
The transputer was not as successful as it could have been but was nevertheless a good British success story. A lot of ideas we see now in parallel computing were first introduced by the transputer and the Occam programming language. If it wasn’t for some of the transputer’s innovations, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
2. You spend some of your spare time tracking venture capital activity. Why?
Sometimes venture capitalists come in for a hard time. But it is not so much the venture capitalists I follow but the innovative start-ups. The venture capitalists provide access to capital and seeing where capital is flowing gives an idea of technology trends. I like to see what’s hot. I want to see what is trending from a technology point of view.
I like to spot bubbles developing. We had the technology crash in the late 1990s and early 2000s that was driven by a bubble in communications and the internet. It is important to be aware of history. One bubble developing at the moment is big data. There is a lot of investment and funds going into that and all the signs are that it is another bubble, so I am very wary of the big data phenomenon.
In the UK, we have a long history of innovation on the technology side and I like to see what is happening on that and predict the future if possible.
3. Why is security becoming more of an issue in embedded systems?
If you look at embedded systems, “embedded” is becoming a bit of a misnomer because they are not used in isolation but are a component of a larger system. Security is becoming more important because of the increasing vulnerability of these systems.
I don’t know if hackers are getting bored with IT systems but there is a lot of evidence that they are now targeting embedded systems and looking for vulnerabilities. Security has always been important in some embedded systems, but hackers are now realising the importance of these on the infrastructure of a country.
4. What is the nicest wine you have tasted and why?
I have worked with quite a lot of US companies and I have a lot of friends who argue the merits of Californian wine over French wine, but my heart is with the French. I did invest many years ago in bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. This turned out to be a good investment but I can’t bring myself to drink a bottle of wine that cost that much. The newly wealthy Chinese have got into it and the price has sky-rocketed as a result. I am 50 in November so I might taste it then. That would be a good time. The best I have tasted is French. I like a Bordeaux, so probably a Chateau Palmer.
5. You have recently joined LynuxWorks. What attracted you to the post?
Coming back to interesting innovation, I started my sales career with Wind River in the embedded industry. When the opportunity came up with LynuxWorks, I saw a lot of similarities in the culture and with the people at Wind River. There is also the reputation of the company and the brand LynuxWorks is well known for delivering good quality, highly reliable products. That was important to me.
The second thing was the growth opportunity. The RTOS market is worth about US$1bn and growth is predicted at around 6%, which is very healthy in these times. LynuxWorks has also invested a lot in the security side and I think there is a lot of growth potential there.
So, it has great people, great technology and great market opportunity. And it almost seems like coming home for me to the core embedded market.