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Who Is Dr Sabih Chaudhry? The Man Behind Afon Technology

Recently Dr Sabih Chaudhry recorded a video interview where he answered questions from a colleague Beth Hodge. He answered questions on a variety of topics including, what motivates him, why he chose diabetes to study and what his favourite biscuit is.

You can watch the video on this page, we have added captions and there is a transcript of the conversation below. The video is approximately 10 minutes long.

Transcript of Interview

Beth Hodge, the interviewer behind the camera and Office Manager at Afon Technology asks:

Sabih, what’s your favourite biscuit?

Dr Sabih Chaudhry BSc (Hons), PhD and CEO of Afon Technology answers:

Well, it’s going to be Rich Tea because they’re great for dunking in coffee. And you have to do two at a time, not singles.

Beth: Okay, I’d go Digestives.

Sabih: Okay.

Beth: What do you love most about being CEO at Afon?

Sabih: Oh, there’s lots of things. I mean, it’s, you know, what we’re trying to achieve with this particular technology. We’re going to change so many people’s lives, their quality of life. And that’s amazing. I think the other thing is I’m so fortunate I’ve got such an amazing team around me. The engineering team, the non-executive team. People are all in it just to make this a reality. You know, bring this project to life.

Beth: If you could give yourself or your 25-year-old self, one piece of advice, what would it be?

Sabih: Go chase your dream. Simple as that. No. Yeah. Don’t listen to any naysayers. Just go for it. Who has been an inspiration to you? I think my biggest inspiration from when I was growing up has got to be my uncle. You know, growing up in in East Africa. I saw this guy leave his parents and emigrate to another country to go and seek education.

He studied hard to be the top of his class and come to university. At UMIST at that time, to do a degree in quantity surveying. I found that so aspirational and I’ve always looked up to it. But even elderly age, you know, he was reinventing himself and he thought that, you know, he went and did something totally different at Cambridge.

And I thought, wow, you know, if he can do it at that age, I must, you know, surely I can do something and I can always develop and become a better individual. And he’s been one of my greatest inspirations. And all through life, I’ve looked at people and every time I meet a person, I say, what are their qualities that I can aspire to and I’ve been very fortunate.

I’ve had amazing parents who’ve tried to mould me into the individual I am now. I’ve had I’ve got kids that are amazing and I’m constantly learning from them as well, you know, have an amazing wife as well. So, it’s all of these people I try and get inspiration from and every single day of my life.

Beth: So, what made you consider diabetes? When was that moment you thought, oh, I’ve got something here that could change the lives of diabetics?

Sabih: I always tell people the story, where I was, I was sitting with my business partner in the lab and we had a very Heath Robinson experiment. We thought, surely with microwave technology, you must be able to detect the biological constituents. And we had a couple of satellite antennas.

Wave guide antennas, and in the middle of it we had a plastic bag for, full of saline and we were  loading it with glucose. And we saw something. And it was such a Heath Robinson moment and it was like, wow, that was the moment we thought, you know, we’ve got the potential of something here. And as as silly as it may sound, that really was the moment that triggered all of this. You know, and I must say, we’ve come a long, long way since then.

Beth: And how long ago was that, that moment?

Sabih: Ooh, gosh. That’s about 17 odd years ago. Yeah. Long time. Okay.

Beth: Do you have time to relax? And if so, what do you do to relax?

Sabih: Relax. That word doesn’t exist in the vocabulary in my dictionary. I do try and relax, and I think it’s very difficult for me to switch off because I’m eating, breathing, living this this thing.

But I do try and go home. I learnt a very valuable lesson with my first start-up many years ago, and my two boys were growing up at that time. They were very young and I was so focused on getting the start-up going that I missed a lot of their childhood and I cannot recall a lot of their childhood.

And I’m so, so angry with myself, you know, that I let wonderful years of their life go by without being part of it. And so I’ve tried to make sure I don’t repeat that with my my daughter. So, I try and spend time with her, with my family. And I think I have you know, I know actually, I’ve got my wife is phenomenal in the sense that she makes sure that I get downtime, I get a chance to relax.

You know, we have date nights, we play video games, which is absolutely fantastic. I wouldn’t have thought about that, you know, that’s what we do. We go to the movies and also with the kids, we sit down and watch movies. And that is something that I really do enjoy doing. So, yeah, that’s how I try and relax.

Beth: Yeah. When your when your staff let you.

Sabih: When my staff let me, absolutely.

Beth: And so here’s an interesting question. What’s your greatest fear and how do you manage your fear?

Sabih: I hate flying. It’s I honestly I really hate flying with a passion. And I’ve tried to get used to. I think the problem is I’m an engineer. I’m trying to look at everything, the construction parts of the plane. And I think it really started years ago when I got on a flight in the States, and you wouldn’t believe it, but there was duct tape on the wing, right.

And that freaked me out. Or it looked like duct tape. But I thought, my God, you know what’s holding this thing up? So I try and I have a tendency of overanalysing and that’s sort of had taken a hold on me. And I do hate flying. And typically you can tell when I’ve got a flight looming because four or five days before the flight, I start switching off, I start withdrawing and people around me can tell, you know something, that you’re ready to fly. So, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s it’s a bit I’m even getting nervous, you know,

Beth: All the more reason not to go on holidays! So, in that case, if you could have one magic power…

Sabih: I’d be to fly. I’d want to be able to become Superman and fly.

Beth: Do you have a motto that you live by?

Sabih: Yeah, I think, you know, I’ve, I’ve grown up on a couple of continents, looked at different lifestyles. I’ve been very privileged in that respect. I’ve been exposed to different cultures, different religions, faiths, types of people. And I’ve learned one thing. Life is too short. You know, we don’t need to be judgmental. We don’t need to criticise people on what their beliefs, on what they wear, what they look like, or anything.

Just concentrate on yourself. Focus on yourself. Live your life to the best of your abilities. You know? Everything else will take care of itself. Be honest, you know, Don’t go out to hurt people. I think it’s a long winded motto, but that’s just really it.

Beth: And I think working with you, I think you take that approach in the way you deal with your employees as well, which is is great.

Beth: And so what motivates you to get up every morning and come and work on this project at Afon?

Sabih: I think Beth, that you’ve just got to look at it. You know, we’ve come a long, long way. I could have only dreamed of being in this position. We’ve got a wearable device. You know, years ago when I started on this journey, it was it was so far out, you know, being able to think that we’ll have a wearable device that people can actually use to monitor blood glucose levels.

And it was slide wear. It was just a wacky idea I had. And I went through the process of trying to raise money and and all of that. People took a punt and the investors that we’ve got on there, I’m so forever grateful that they decided to take this punt and I hope that we can reward it. But the excitement that I get and I think I can’t stress this enough, the team that we have here is just absolutely phenomenal.

And I get a buzz of, you know, we’re so lucky I’ve wanted to always build a company in the way that I and treat people the way that I want to be treated. You know, it’s a mix. We’re a mixed bag here. Different nationalities, people mix of equal mix of male and female individual. And I think that’s so important getting that because you have different people’s ideas, different ways of thinking. And I get such a buzz out of it. And I just love everyone here and that’s the project. It just that’s what I come in for.

Beth: Brilliant. Final question, Just been on holiday to Barbados. Finally, finally, after four years waiting to get this holiday, what is the best bit?

Sabih: I think I just love that place because it just reminds me so much of when I grew up in East Africa, in Kenya, just drinking coconut water straight out of the raw coconuts, being able to go on to the beach, just swimming and I really enjoyed it because I was I gave myself the opportunity to relax, you know? Yeah, I think that it was just the whole experience of it all. It was just fabulous.

Beth: Great. You’ve come back rejuvenated.

Sabih: I’d like to think so.

Beth: And ready to continue on.

Sabih: And jetlagged!

Beth: Thanks Sabih. I think, hopefully these people have got to know a little bit more about you and yeah, good luck Afon.

Sabih: Absolutely!