Photo of Simon Saxby

BSc Zoology (1980)
Chief Executive Officer at Leaf Expression Systems Ltd

How did you end up at Swansea University?

I was originally planning to study Marine Biology and Swansea was one of only 4 universities in the UK offering Marine Biology at the time.

What were the best things about your course?

The ability to select from a wide range of topics for my 2nd and 3rd years, which enabled me to tailor my course based on my own interests


What are your favourite memories from your time at Swansea?

Living at Clyne Castle in my 1st & 3rd years. Friendships that endure to this day. The location. The course. Slade playing in the ballroom of Clyne Castle for our Going Down ball. The Mumbles Run! Lionel Kellaway's snake pit and adders behind the Zoology building. Seeing my final result on the board in the Zoology department.

What did you do after graduation? How did you end up in your current role?

I worked as a printer for about 8 months before landing my first "science" job at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology ("LMB") in Cambridge. I moved into a biotech company role after 2 years and have stayed in biotech ever since. I co-founded a biotech R&D service company in Cambridge UK, which ultimately led to me being head hunted to work in Massachusetts USA where I helped design and build a cGMP biologics contract services facility. Since then I have designed and built GMP facilities in the UK and Asia. I have been a CEO of both public and private companies and I am a non-executive director and advisor to other biotech and medtech companies. I was a visiting lecturer at the Vienna Technical University for a number of years, I am a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University on their Masters in Biotechnology Enterprise course and I am a mentor for a Swansea graduate. 

Where are you working now? To what extent has your Swansea experience helped you progress achieve your career aspirations?

Leaf Expression Systems Ltd is a biotech contract development and manufacturing business where we express and produce proteins, including monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, in the leaves of plants. If I had not studied zoology and been able to select courses in cell biology, immunology, physiology etc I very much doubt I would have achieve the things I have since graduating.

What is a typical day like in your job or what are the most exciting things about your job?

Meetings - internal and external. As CEO I am responsible for every aspect of the business, from health, safety and environment, HR, legal, finance, business development and board and investor relations. I also help to build our network of contacts and I lead on relations with government.

What advice would you give to anyone considering studying at Swansea?

Go!! You'll get a fantastic education, you'll learn some valuable life lessons, and have a fantastic time at one of the outstanding university locations ANYWHERE!!