Danny Lopez is COO of augmented reality tech unicorn Blippar. Between 2011 and 2016 Danny was the British Consul-General to New York and Director-General of UK Trade & Investment in the United States. When he was appointed in 2011 he became the youngest ever British Consul-General to New York.
Danny has recently been appointed to the board of Innovate Finance through an application on Nurole. Founded in 2014, with the support of the City of London and Canary Wharf Group, Innovate Finance aims to accelerate and consolidate the UK’s leading position in the global financial services sector by directly supporting the next era of technology-led financial services innovators, from start-ups to institutions.
Here we speak to Danny about his advice from both ends of the job search, his Nurole experience, and how he'd like to invest £10,000.
Best professional advice anyone gave you?
In whatever role you’re in, within the first twelve months, figure out what you would like your legacy from that role to be and spend 20% of your time proactively dedicated to achieving it. There’s a danger that otherwise you could spend most of your time fire-fighting and reacting to what comes your way. This advice came from a former Prime Minister.
Advice for anyone looking for their first NED role?
Choose a role in a space you are really passionate about. This might be because you know you have a lot to offer or because the subject matter is of great interest to you. The prospect of being a successful candidate should fill you with excitement and pride.
Advice for anyone preparing for their first NED interview?
Talk to as many people as you can. Experts in that field, executive staff, former NEDs and industry stakeholders. Make sure you have a pretty clear idea of what a successful NED term would look like before being interviewed.
As the COO of a cutting-edge technology company and someone who has already been a banker, CEO and diplomat, what advice would you offer for anyone thinking of a career switch?
If it feels right, go for it. Sometimes it’s financially driven, others because you really want to work with somebody, or maybe you’re after new learnings. I’ve always felt confident I would have a lot to offer when I’ve made my career changes. But I’ve been equally conscious of how much I would need to learn. I think that confidence and a healthy dose of humility are key. Ultimately, my view is that we have one life and it’s important to keep it interesting!
What have you learned from your time in technology that you wish you had known in your previous roles?
That technology is changing the world at a much faster rate than I thought. There are too many people and organisations that aren’t aware this is happening, with goals and ambitions that are no different to what they were twenty years ago.
What are the characteristics of the best boards you have worked with?
A respected Chair who knows how to get the best out of everybody and board members who leave their egos outside the boardroom.
How do you know when to invest in someone in your team rather than moving them on?
If their core attitude is healthy then I say investing in somebody is always the way forward. But if you know their attitude and belief is not there, then it’s over.
What is your most effective method for assessing prospective new hires?
At least two interviews on different days and I also think it is very important for others in the organisation to interview the candidate. I always find it helpful to listen to the views my colleagues have.
When have you got it most wrong professionally and what did you learn?
I have unfortunately made some bad hires and the lesson I’ve learned is that if you know you’ve made a mistake you’ll be doing the company and the hire no favours by taking no action.
When history looks back on the next 20 years, what do you predict will define the period?
The period when AI was integrated into our lives. The countries and organisations who embrace this change will be the big winners of the century.
Your Nurole Experience
How did you hear about Nurole?
I was recommended by a former colleague.
What made you sign up?
I really liked the website and thought the quality of roles was first class.
How have you found the experience as a member?
I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to Nurole I found my first NED role in a sector I am very passionate about. I would not have been aware of the opportunity without Nurole.
What advice would you have for other members applying through the platform?
Only apply if you think you are a 150% fit.
How would you explain what Nurole does in one sentence to someone who doesn’t know it?
Nurole curates and personalises outstanding opportunities you might want to explore.
About You: 10 Question Quickfire
3 words the person who has worked most with you would use to characterise you?
Fair, loyal, focused.
Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett.
Gola is a lovely little local Italian spot in Fulham which we really enjoy.
You know nothing Jon Snow.
Professional achievement of which you are most proud?
Being appointed the youngest ever British Consul General to New York.
Role model / mentor?
A little something from every manager I’ve ever had. Put all those together and I’d have my ultimate role model.
When does your alarm go off?
With a newborn at home, a natural alarm goes off every few hours!
How many hours of sleep do you have on average?
Normally, I get six to six and a half hours sleep.
Best idea for a £10,000 investment?
Round the world trip of a lifetime!
Danny knew he was interested in taking on a non-executive director role. The magic of Nurole is that it alerted him to - and empowered him to put himself forward for - an opportunity he might otherwise have missed. This magic, combined with Nurole's scale, quality and unique candidate-led approach, gave Innovate Finance not only an amazing choice of candidates, but also delivered this brilliantly perfect match.
Find out more about Danny's appointment on the board of Innovate Finance here.