Skip to main content

Professors of Practice bring heart of business to the lecture theatre

Venture capitalist John Lyon says being a “seasoned entrepreneur” means his move to Warwick Business School to become a Professor of Practice is the perfect fit.

Lyon is one of three top businessmen brought in to hand over their considerable experience to the next generation of business leaders being produced at WBS.

As well as Lyon, Jon Rushman has joined the school from Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, while David Elmes takes up his new role after more than 20 years working in the energy industry.

The trio have been appointed Professors of Practice and will be bringing their intimate knowledge of business and industry straight to the lecture theatre.

Lyon originally qualified as a clinical biochemist before becoming a chartered accountant and then a venture capitalist, investing in start-ups and new innovations, something he has kept doing as a business angel alongside his long and varied career.

He will maintain his business interests while working part-time at the school, which he feels is ideal.

“Being part-time allows me to chair boards and to be involved on the forefront of entrepreneurial business,” said Lyon. “I have a lot of experience of large corporate companies. I was global vice president at Covance, one of the biggest clinical research organisations in the world. I had staff in most continents, so I really understood cultural differences and how they were a barrier to doing business. It was fascinating, I managed people who managed people who managed people, or you could say I managed politics. It gave me a great insight into American management techniques.”

Lyon left Covance to help set up Photopharmica, developing drugs to fight cancer and infections. Having worked for venture capital firm and now a business angel, Lyon has helped a myriad of small and medium-sized companies.

“I can compare and contrast SMEs and large corporations,” said Lyon, who is doing a Phd at WBS. “I am a seasoned entrepreneur and I come from an industry where failure is endemic. In the pharmaceutical industry only one in 10,000 drugs make it from the lab bench into a prescription medicine used by doctors.

“I have invested in lots of companies and heard thousands of pitches. Becoming a Professor of Practice means I can give something back. I sense Warwick is different from other business schools, it is very innovative and forward-thinking. They are constantly looking for relevance and that signifies a core attribute of a good leading business school.”

Rushman comes to WBS with 14 years’ experience of managing assets and financial instruments for BlackRock and is now showing students how it is done in the City.

“I am going to give them hands on experience of things they would not experience anywhere other than in the work place,” said Rushman. “On their CV they will have things that typically only really successful new hires at places like Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley get to do.”

Elmes is Head of the Global Energy Group at WBS. After working at BP, he worked across the energy industry as vice president with the Energy, Utilities & Chemicals team of CapGemini and then was vice president and director at Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company. He brings an intimate knowledge of the the special challenges facing the energy sector to Warwick’s Global Energy MBA.

“The future energy industry is going to be very different,” said Elmes. “It needs a new generation of leadership who have a very broad understanding the opportunities and challenges ahead as they will have to make some pretty big decisions about where their companies go. We provide understanding from a management perspective on how they can make those decisions well, for both their own career and their firm’s future.”