Content, Interview

Interview Series: Lorna Brightman discusses Survivor’s antibacterial iPad and phone case technology

Next up in our interview series, we speak to Lorna Brightman, Director of Sales EMEA at Vinci Brands, which includes Survivor’s latest antibacterial iPad and phone cases.

Here, Lorna explains what the company’s smart technology accessories can offer to the healthcare sector and shares her leadership style and learnings.

Hi Lorna, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Vinci Brands

I’m Director of Sales EMEA, managing the B2B team and new business opportunities.

We are a US company based in L.A., and have recently been acquired, so we took the opportunity to rebrand to Vinci Brands – which includes Incipio, Incase, Kate Spade, Coach, Griffin Technology and, of course, Survivor®.

I started in the industry when I was about 25, when I joined Ingram Micro – a leading IT Distributor. I was there for nearly 14 years, starting off in sales, and progressing to manage lots of big retailers that you’ll know today – Tesco, HMV, Argos and John Lewis. I then moved to a distributor managing accessories for multiple brands in Apple EMEA Retail Stores.

I’ve been at the company for 10 years. I started at Griffin Technology, managing the Retail business in the UK, and after two to three years of building the retail space at Griffin, I was then tasked with building a B2B channel for them. That involved reaching out to the B2B resellers in the channels and setting up and prospecting our Survivor iPad and tablet cases, which have now evolved into this new range.

Can you tell us more about your new Survivor iPad case range?

The All-Terrain Medical is brand new – we’ve just released it and are now having some tested at hospitals in the US. They are 3x military-grade drop protection iPad cases, particularly for iPad 10.2 inch, which is the top-selling iPad case for us within B2B – across the health and education sectors.

Over the last 18 months, with everything that is going on, we’ve looked at developing all our product ranges, including the Survivor All-Terrain case which we believed we could improve for the health sector. So, what we’ve done is change the format slightly – for example, we’ve smoothed the edges so that there’s less chance for bacteria to grow, as the more edges and gaps you have, the more space it has. That’s important for the health sector. The durable case materials can also be cleaned with alcohol-based medical cleaning wipes; we’ve tested that within hospitals.

We’ve met those two requirements for health professionals and, naturally, today they would be important for consumers as well. On top of that, we’ve infused the material with antimicrobial technology and this protection eliminates 99.9 per cent of the surface bacteria. What that means is that the technology is in the material of the product rather than just a coating, so it’s in the product forever instead of eventually becoming less effective over time. We’re working with our key partners and their vertical health teams to start sending out samples and getting the products to decision-makers.

In hospitals, as part of their infection control, it is important for bacteria to be limited, especially for some children’s wards where controlling any bacteria is critical for the health of the patients. Through the protection offered on the cases, the children can be given an iPad to watch films, cartoons and complete their homework, so the All-Terrain Medical is a solution for both staff and patients.

On top of that, what’s new for this range of Survivor cases, is that there is a modular system for accessories. So, once you’ve bought your case, it also comes with a stand – so you can use it in landscape or portrait mode easily with the iPad stood up.

You can also add an additional hand or body strap and an in-car mount which would, for example, suit ambulance drivers and critical care staff. We designed the body strap because, if you’re in an environment like A&E and using a tablet to take stats, you can just let go of it if there’s an emergency. You also don’t have to worry about putting it down on a surface –  just walk around with it.

We try to think about usage and where products fit within the health sector from the knowledge we’ve gained over the years, and requirements we’ve been asked for when quoting for products. We collected all that data and used it to develop the new range.

Survivor All-Terrain has been around for nearly 10 years and it’s kept developing as we’ve widened our breadth. What’s driven the expansion into the health sector with specific products for this industry, of course, is the pandemic. We saw a problem that could be resolved with our antibacterial technology and have aimed to make an awful situation slightly easier for the people that would be using the iPads – staff and patients.

The All-Terrain Medical iPad case is our response to the current situation in the health sector, which has been a really challenging time for everyone. While the sale of tablets has been huge in the last 18 months, the tight budgets have meant that lots of companies have just bought the device, and not thought about the case or where it’s going to be used.

What can you tell us about your antibacterial phone case ranges?

Survivor is well-known as a brand within the European market. Our military-grade, drop-protection phone cases have become sleeker over time. Consumers want protection, but also want their phone to look nice and slim. This year, our new ranges have all had the anti-microbial protection built into the material as well. So, all our brands – Incipio, Survivor, Kate Spade and Coach – have that technology in the tablet and phone cases.

Why shouldn’t consumers want that now? It’s important and gives you the peace of mind that, if you clean it regularly, bacteria build up will be very limited. We’ve always sold cases to the health sector, but this new All-Terrain Medical range is specifically developed for the sector. They also use the iPod touch a lot in the hospitals now, and we do a Survivor All-Terrain case for that, too.

What else is coming up for Vinci Brands over the next 12 months?

We are really focused on mobility and the ‘hybrid-worker’. The hybrid worker has really been created by the pandemic, with people working from home and maybe going into the office a couple of days a week. So, we’re very much looking at products to support this way of working and that will be throughout all our brands, with a focus on case protection, portable power, and cables. It will be an all-round solution for the hybrid worker.

Tell us about your leadership style at Vinci Brands and how it’s changed during the pandemic

It has been really challenging. During lockdown, none of my team were furloughed, we were still doing business as usual. I have staff of different ages, different backgrounds, and they’ve all reacted completely differently and needed support in their own ways. I’ve done daily catch-up calls and online coffee mornings to support them. For myself, I got back into fitness and retrained and qualified as a personal trainer, and that really motivated me within the workspace and therefore helped me to motivate the team.

Knowing we were working on all these new product ranges in the background is what kept us going, because we had new things to plan and talk about. It was, and still is, about keeping everyone communicating with each other and making sure nobody was left out. It was quite exhausting but that’s why I embarked on my personal training, I did online workouts, and encouraged my team to go out for daily walks and keep active.

What leadership tips would you share with our audience?

Any leadership role, in any industry now, is very challenging if you manage people.  For me, it’s always been about not reacting too quickly to situations, which is very easy to do. I always like to take time to think. As a result of the pandemic, I think a lot of people are more sensitive than they’ve ever been, and I think that applies to business too. It’s all about taking time to understand the other side of the issue, and how you can approach it in a pragmatic way. Try and work as a team, whether it’s internal or external. For me, I believe in coaching and teaching people. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, what’s important is that you learn from it and coach people through it. It benefits your business as well, turning the negative into a positive.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you, whether that’s at work or socially. I’ve got a lot of ex-colleagues who are now friends, people who I can call and ask for their advice. Surround yourself with people you can form a relationship with and ask questions. No person is an island, so learn about yourself, learn about others, and continue to grow. People now call me to ask for advice. It’s about building up your contacts and getting a wealth of experience around you.

To find out more about the antibacterial range, click here.