Andrew, a Rouse Principal, is head of the Technology & Patents team in Sweden. He was previously Managing Partner of Valea AB, the leading European IP firm acquired by Rouse late last year.
What is it that makes some people lucky and some not so lucky? Is ‘luck’ just a matter of chance, or is it something more? According to Richard Wiseman, a British psychology professor and author of a popular book on the subject ‘The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind’ there is much more involved in luck than mere chance. After ten years researching the subject, he concluded that ‘lucky’ people share certain characteristics; in particular, they tend to be very sociable and enthusiastic extroverts (sociability increases the likelihood of lucky opportunities), and to be open to opportunities and able to make the most them. This is typical of Andrew. He has been ‘lucky’ in life, but it clearly hasn’t all been a matter of chance.
The first of the characteristics identified by Wiseman, sociability, Andrew has in abundance. He is by nature extroverted and sociable and that, in combination with his love of sport, has played an important role in his professional success. His love of sport is probably inherited. His father, a schoolteacher, lived for cricket and went to some lengths to ensure that Andrew was born in the English County of Yorkshire, so that he would be eligible to play for Yorkshire in the County cricket competition. This was no small feat as it involved bringing the family back from Trinidad where they were living. Then, after Andrew was born in the historic market town of Beverley in Yorkshire’s East Riding, they went back to Trinidad; about four years later, they returned to England to live. As it turned out, although he was every bit as passionate as his father about cricket, he never played for Yorkshire. He did, though, many years later, captain the European Patent Office team for two years.
He took up golf when he moved to Sweden in 1990 and before long had a single figure handicap – these days he has less time, but still plays off 15. When he discovered that golf was very popular with Patent Attorneys he made sure he took his clubs with him whenever he attended international conferences. In 2008, he was invited to join Pat-Got, an international organisation of IP Law professionals that promotes the exchange of IP information in a friendly and relaxing environment – often on the golf course. For years he has enjoyed being part of the annual Pat-Got week, which is held in a different place each year. As a result he has developed close relationships with an incredible network of associates around the world, which, apart from being personally rewarding, is of great value to his clients.
The second of Wiseman’s ‘lucky people’ characteristics, openness to opportunities and the ability to make the most of them, is also typical of Andrew. It was no surprise to anyone that he graduated from the University of Liverpool with an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering – as a child he loved pulling toys apart to see how they worked and everyone just assumed that he would go on to be an engineer. What was perhaps surprising was the path he decided to follow when he graduated. At the time he was as keen on cars as he was on sport (he still is – his current passion being a Porsche Cabriolet he bought himself for his 50th birthday) and another assumption was that he would end up working in the automotive industry. In the early ‘80s, however, when he graduated, jobs of any kind were very scarce in the UK – out of 60 graduates only six had job offers. Andrew had three: one from Ford; one from Lucas Electrical, a UK supplier of electrical parts for vehicles; and one from the recently established European Patent Office (EPO). At the time, he had never heard of patents, let alone the EPO, but when EPO representatives visited the University as part of a recruiting drive, he decided to see what it was all about. He learned that the EPO was based in The Hague; worked with the latest technology; and was offering a tax-free salary, double that being offered by the other positions.. It sounded a great opportunity to him, a ‘no-brainer’, but still he sought his father’s advice – which was to accept the position with Lucas: “It’s a sound British company whereas this European operation might fold in a few years”. Fortunately, on this occasion Andrew decided to follow his instinct rather than his father’s advice.
He accepted the EPO offer, packed up his Rover V8 3500, and, in late October 1983, set off for The Hague, and the start of a successful career in IP. He began work as a Patent Examiner in November 1983 and in 1986 was transferred to the EPO’s head office in Munich. Once there, he started mixing with a Swedish crowd and was introduced to skiing – also to Christina, a linguist by training, but then working at the EPO. They were married in 1989 and moved to Sweden soon after. At the time, the UK was part of the EU, but Sweden was not, so Christina was not able to work in the UK whereas Andrew could work in Sweden - if he could get a job there. He did, through a Swedish colleague he had met at the EPO. It was with an IP firm in Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden, and he stayed there until he joined Valea, then a small family firm, in 1998. Subsequently, in 2004, he and two of his partners bought the firm.
Things have worked out well for Andrew since he packed his car and set off for The Hague in late 1983. He often says he has “the best job in the world” and he is happily married with a son, Hampus, who is working for a large shipping company in Gothenburg while studying for a Masters degree in Maritime Management, and a daughter, Sara, currently studying Law. You could certainly say he has been lucky – but it hasn’t been just a matter of luck. The characteristics identified by Wiseman have been crucial - and there is something else. Andrew agrees with Gary Player, one of his golfing heroes: “The harder you work, the luckier you get”.