Eric Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer, Cambridge Consultants, remembers one of his predecessors, Paul Auton, who has died aged 80.
Paul Auton remembered
Paul Auton, former CEO of Cambridge Consultants, had such a profound impact on our business that we named a building after him.
Paul joined Cambridge Consultants in 1969, only nine years after the formation of the company. He was an optical physicist by training, but also a shrewd businessman and natural leader. Following the acquisition of Cambridge Consultants by Arthur D Little in 1972 Paul joined the board and set about growing the company into a stable, asset backed technology consulting business. Cambridge Consultants expanded through the 1970s, much of this growth underpinned by UK government work, which accounted for more than 50% of our turnover by the end of the decade.
Changes to government procurement through the 1980s drove Cambridge Consultants to focus more heavily on commercial lines of business. Paul was appointed CEO in 1983 and set about leading this transition. In this capacity he developed working practices that have been woven into our DNA. I recently revisited his “Ten Commandments of Project Reviewing”, written in the late 1980s, and it could have been written yesterday.
The business continued to grow through the 1990s with the creation of a medical technology business stream and a strong ASIC practice. The emergence of Bluetooth was transformative for Cambridge Consultants, and one of our spinouts Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) became a billion-dollar global leader just five years after spinout. Howard Biddle took over as CEO in 1998 and Paul became Chairman, before retiring in 2001.
In 2014 Paul came to officially open our new building, named Auton in his honour. This was a fitting tribute to the impact he’d had, from our business practices to our core values.
I joined Cambridge Consultants in 1991, when Paul was already highly respected. My own memories of him are of a man who effortlessly fused leadership, clarity of thought and a keen sense of good humour.
Life at Cambridge Consultants could be demanding, but that was no reason not to have fun. Our thoughts go out to Paul’s family and all that knew him.
Image: Paul Auton (centre, holding beer bottle)
For over 50 years, Cambridge Consultants has led the way in innovative product development. We are the development partner of choice to many of the world’s leading blue chips, as well as the virtual development team for ambitious start-up companies.