Orbital UAV (ASX:OEC) – Todd Alder



The CEO Mindset - Todd Alder is the CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV (ASX:OEC)

Todd Alder is the CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV (ASX:OEC), a propulsion systems developer for military tactical drones, particularly those that undertakes surveillance and intelligence work, built to the size of a typical car.

What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
From start to now: Chartered accounting, commercial and sales support for overseas start-ups, business process re-engineering for global consulting firm, leadership of large outsourced business processing teams, CFO for Australian listed companies, CEO Orbital UAV.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
Orbital UAV (ASX:OEC) is a world leader in the design and manufacturer of integrated engine systems for tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We have a long term agreement to supply a range of propulsion systems to Boeing subsidiary Insitu Inc., for application across their entire fleet of UAVs. These are predominantly used by US and allied defence forces. In 2020 we were designated Primary Supplier status for all Insitu’s engines requirements.

As we continue to build our reputation in the global defence industry, we have recently expanded our customer base, signing new contracts with leading aerospace company Northrop Grumman, and one of Singapore’s largest defence companies. These contracts have the potential to lead to additional commercial production opportunities for Orbital UAV.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
As an advanced aerospace manufacturer supplying global defence prime contractors, we are fortunate that our product demand remains unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Our facilities in Perth, Australia and Oregon, USA have continued to operate. All employees who do not touch product have been working remotely, while our build teams have continued at our production facilities where we have implemented the appropriate measures and strict health and hygiene measures to mitigate the risk posed by COVID-19. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of all our people, our production has not been impacted and we have continued to meet our customers’ demands.

From a personal perspective, a lot of my time is usually spent travelling between our Australia and USA operations. Not being able to travel and following the ‘stay home, stay safe’ directive has meant I’ve had the opportunity to spend a good deal more time with my family, which has been great.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
One of our core values at Orbital UAV is ‘challenge’ – having courage, challenging the status quo and coming up with creative new ideas. For me, that is the most exciting part of our business. I love to see our people embrace that ethos in order to achieve personal objectives and development, move our Company forwards, and deliver on our ambition to be recognised as the world’s leading supplier in our field.

How do you measure success?
Success for us is measured by three groups: employees; customers, and, as a listed company, shareholders.

The success of our business is dependent on the performance of our people. If people have belief and trust in what you are trying to achieve as a Company and how you are going about it, feel valued and rewarded fairly, and see opportunities to develop and grow in their role, I believe that combination creates a strong culture for company success.

For our customers, first, it’s about delivery – doing what we say we’re going to do and doing it to the best of our ability. Second, it’s about partnership. Our customers want us to challenge them, push boundaries, and ultimately deliver the best possible product. Our customers are at the forefront of the UAV industry and they expect us to help them shape its future.

Finally, for our shareholders who own the business, we must demonstrate our ability to deliver on our commitments and drive shareholder value.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
It doesn’t matter whether it is a listed company or a private company, you have to be authentic and you have to be able to communicate. Every stakeholder – employee, customer, supplier, or shareholder – as CEO, it’s my job to ensure people see, understand and connect with the vision of our business.

What is your favourite book?
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, by Jon Gertner

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
I conducted my first investor roadshow in Singapore earlier this year and I was delighted with the reception I and the Orbital UAV story received. It was also an opportunity for me to meet with our recently announced new customer in Singapore. As we continue to progress that contract, I’m looking forward to spending more time in the region and getting to know our growing investor community there. 

How can people connect with you?


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