Lessons from Corporate Innovators

Gustavo Lopez — General Manager at MSA The Safety Company

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Episode 7: Gustavo Lopez — General Manager at MSA The Safety Company

On this week’s episode of Agile Giants, I’m joined by Gustavo Lopez a general manager at MSA an over 100-years old safety company. They historically have sold devices, things like portable gas detectors.

Over the last few years, those devices have started throwing off more and more data about the detection that they’re doing. Two years ago made a decision to launch a new startup within the company called Safety IO. This corporate startup does big data analytics from the data that those devices are throwing off.

I should say for full disclosure, January through May of 2018, a team of my graduate students in my Corporate Startup Lab project course actually worked with MSA to refine the ideas for Safety IO. And at the end of that course, when an MSA decided to push forward, I joined their advisory board. Also, Laurie Barkman (on last week’s episode) is also on their advisory board.

While I admittedly am slightly conflicted, I do think this is an amazing story and it’s a perfect illustration of how large established companies are able to leverage their brand and customer relationships to build a new startup inside an existing company. It really would have been challenging for two entrepreneurs inside a startup accelerator to do what Safety IO has done, yet MSA has had a ton of success with it and I’m really excited to be part of it. So even with the conflict, it just felt like a perfect episode to add into our conversation about how large companies can do transformative innovation. I hope you enjoyed this week’s conversation.

Episode Links:

A few quotes from the interview to pay particular attention to:

  • How Gustavo describes Safety IO and the trends driving the creation of it (starting at 5:45)
  • How Safety IO is impacting the rest of MSA (starting at 13:36) … I love how Gustavo describes “Safety IO as an incubator for new ideas”
  • The leadership Gustavo has pulled together for Safety IO (starting at 15:23 & again at 20:05)

I also hope you’ll consider subscribing to Agile Giants if you haven’t already on:


Sean Ammirati: 00:08 Welcome to Agile Giants, lessons from corporate innovators. I’m Sean Ammirati, your host, co-founder and director of the Carnegie Mellon Corporate Startup Plan and partner at the early stage venture capital fund, Birchmere Ventures. Each week, I’m going to talk to guests who are experts at creating startups inside large corporations.

Sean Ammirati: 00:28 I believe fundamentally a startup within a company is the same as one inside the proverbial garage, a group of entrepreneurs trying to make the world a better place using new ideas and inventions. However, I also believe some of the techniques and processes are just inherently different. This podcast is going to explore those similarities and differences.

Sean Ammirati: 00:57 On this week’s episode of Agile Giants, I’m joined by Gustavo Lopez. Gustavo’s, a general manager at MSA. MSA is over a 100-year-old company that sells safety devices, things like portable gas detectors. Over the last few years, those devices have started throwing off more and more data about the detection that they’re doing.

Sean Ammirati: 01:15 In MSA, two years ago made a decision to launch a new startup within the company called Safety IO, that does big data analytics from the data that those devices are throwing off. I should say for full disclosure, last January, so January of 2018 through May of 2018, so the spring semester at Carnegie Mellon, a team of graduate students in my project course actually worked with MSA to refine the ideas for Safety IO. And at the end of that when an MSA decided to push forward, I joined their advisory board.

Sean Ammirati: 01:50 So I am slightly conflicted, but I do think this is an amazing story and it’s a perfect illustration of how large established companies are able to leverage their brand and customer relationships to build a new startup inside an existing company. It really would have been challenging for two entrepreneurs inside a startup accelerator to do what Safety IO has done, yet MSA has had a ton of success with it and I’m really excited to be part of it. So even with the conflict, it just felt like a perfect episode to add in to our conversation about how large companies can do transformative innovation. I hope you enjoyed this week’s conversation.

Sean Ammirati: 02:36 All right. Welcome to another episode of Agile Giants. I’m joined by Gustavo Lopez. Gustavo is a general manager at MSA and a guy that I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot over the last couple of years. Gustavo, people probably aren’t familiar with MSA. So maybe a good place to start is just if you could tell people a little bit about the company.

Gustavo Lopez: 02:53 Sure, Sean. So I want to say it was established in 1914 and it really is the global leader in development and manufacture of supply of safety products that protect people in facility infrastructures. It was founded in 1914, it’s actually a pretty interesting story, by two mining engineers in the western Pennsylvania area. So there were a lot of mining incidents way back when.

Gustavo Lopez: 03:14 And what they found is that one of the biggest source of accidents was people are walking into the mines, methane field mine with a flame around their head so that they could light it up. So what they did is they partnered with Thomas Edison, at the time-

Sean Ammirati: 03:29 The Thomas Edison.

Gustavo Lopez: 03:30 The Thomas Edison. Right the one. And what they ended up doing is developing the first flameless. That really started and catapulted MSA into the scene. Since then, it’s been pretty transformative. MSA’s made a tremendous amount of acquisitions throughout the years leading up to about a company of 4,800 employees with global operations. So over 40 international locations and half of our revenue comes from outside the U.S. and Canada. So it’s a pretty global company.

Sean Ammirati: 04:00 That’s awesome and you’ve had a bunch of different roles in the company. I want to focus on your role at Safety IO, which we can get to in a moment, but maybe if you could give people a sense of the arc of your career throughout MSA getting to that point.

Gustavo Lopez: 04:13 Yeah, sure. So it’s actually been pretty interesting and kind of a wild ride. So I started in MSA right after graduate school in engineering and went into R and D. So the R and D for portable gas detection, where I did software in electronics and it was really comfortable for me ’cause it was very close to my research topics during electrical engineering, a master’s degree.

Gustavo Lopez: 04:34 However, one of the things I found in this role is that I was really interesting and understanding how and why the business made the decisions that they did. What type of projects to develop, why, what’s the value proposition and so forth. So midway through this, I enrolled at the Tepper School of Business and that led to a variety of opportunities and first starting … that’s how I jumped out of R and D, went into a portfolio management position, where I really started in creating a process at MSA of how do we value R and D investments and how do we treat it as a portfolio investment when you look at the bigger and broader MSA?

Gustavo Lopez: 05:07 From then, went into product management and escalated my career through there to general manager. The good thing, and the interesting thing is it’s about every two years I’ve had the opportunity to do something new. So it’s kept things interesting and a lot of really upward mobility at the companies.

Sean Ammirati: 05:23 Yeah. One of the new things you’re working on and there’s just some other things, is this Safety IO initiative within the company. To me, we talk a lot about “corporate startups”. To me Safety IO is a great example of what we mean when we use that term. So you’ve got this company started in 1914, doing a new startup inside the company. Can you tell people what Safety IO is all about?

Gustavo Lopez: 05:45 Yeah, so Safety IO is really MSA’s first subsidiary focused entirely on leveraging MSA’s market leading gas detection technology with industry leading innovations in cloud-based software. So we use wireless technologies and cloud-based computing to enable a broad range of connected safety activities.

Gustavo Lopez: 06:03 So really another way to think about it is, as the world is changing from physical product to connect the products or the digital age, we knew we needed to do something different and really Safety IO is what really is going to enable this and transform the way we do business at MSA and really in the safety space as a whole.

Sean Ammirati: 06:20 Yeah. Perfect. I want to talk about how it came to be in a minute, but just to unpack what you just said a little bit. So you’ve got all these devices. That’s obviously the history you talked about going all the way back, right? And these devices are throwing off lots of interesting data, right? Would you say it was fair to consider yourself a big data company within the safety space? Is that fair?

Gustavo Lopez: 06:45 It is and that’s what we’re trying to become. So I think part of the issue is we’ve had all this data, but we haven’t been able to really enable it in a way that’s meaningful to our customers.

Sean Ammirati: 06:55 Can you give people a sense, just broadly, nothing confidential, but just how many devices are out there with MSA devices?

Gustavo Lopez: 07:02 I mean, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of devices out in the field. Generating data, protecting lives, day in and day out. Mostly on a local basis and now they’re becoming connected. So obviously what we’re trying to do is enable that information for much better insights.

Sean Ammirati: 07:16 Yes. The reason I want to push on this for a minute is because thinking about my day job, right? If someone came to me and they said, “Hey, we want to do big data in the safety space” like at that level, that handle, that feels like the kind of startup that a company like Birchmere might spend time talking to them.

Sean Ammirati: 07:35 I think one of the early questions we’d asked them is like, “Well how are you going to get that data?” Right? And it’d be hard to come up with a good answer as like, two guys in a garage. But you guys had great answers to that because you’ve got six figures of devices out there.

Sean Ammirati: 07:52 On the other hand, this is a new business model for you. It’s a 100 year old company. It’s not that you haven’t built new products. You said you started your career in R&D but I think this is a different type of product then most of the products. So what was the process like of Safety IO actually coming about? How did this whole thing happened within MSA?

Gustavo Lopez: 08:12 I mean, it’s funny you mentioned that ’cause obviously we used a lot of agile principles for it. MSA is an R&D company. We’ve been an R&D company since I’ve started at MSA. Five years ago, we said we needed to make that transition from physical products to connected one. So what do we do? We invest in R&D. Come up with these great solutions and how to connect their products.

Gustavo Lopez: 08:30 But we didn’t really transform our business. So we looked at ourselves and said, “Okay, so what do we have to do?” We believe in this. We need to go all in and challenge the status quo. We did go to CMU’s corporate startup lab after we made that bold decision to treat this like a startup. They gave us some good insights.

Gustavo Lopez: 08:50 In parallel, we also engaged with some more traditional consultants just to get both sides of the story. At the same time, we used all of our knowledge, all of our research. I mean, I think the value that we have, like you said, I’m gonna say it’s 105 year old company, there’s a lot of trust. Were a market leading company and things could go from hardhats, to gas detection, to fire service, self-contained breathing apparatus and such. So that breath of products and the ability to get that information is pretty unique. So we were able to really leverage that.

Sean Ammirati: 09:21 Yep. You said it’s a new business model. So most of the historical business is more transactional, right? This is, whereas, I imagine this is … I mean, I know ’cause I’m on the advisory board. This is more of a subscription. I don’t imagine. I actually know the answer to this one. It’s more of a subscription model, right? How did people react to that? That sort of change in business model internally here at MSA?

Gustavo Lopez: 09:43 It’s interesting and I think that’s one of the reasons why treating this as a separate entity makes a lot of sense. If you think of MSA, MSA is a $1.4 billion organization on purely transactional business, right?

Gustavo Lopez: 09:56 We sell hardware products, we sell manufactured goods and starting a subscription service business is tough. You’re starting from zero. Growing that to something significant is a little bit of a challenge. That being said though, everybody realizes that the world is changing and the expectations are changing as well from our customers.

Gustavo Lopez: 10:17 As we looked at that, that’s why we decided let’s just carve this out. Our CEO, Nish Vartanian, has been tremendously supportive of this and let’s treat this like a startup. I think when you look at a startup and obviously, a lot of startups at the end of the day aren’t successful, but when we look at this, that probability of success for us is really, really high.

Gustavo Lopez: 10:38 You’re talking about 105 year old company that’s doing something within their realm, within their know how, which is really, we know more about safety of them, pretty much anybody else out there and the breadth of products and the expertise we have in the organization is pretty unique.

Gustavo Lopez: 10:52 So with that in mind, kind of carving this out and looking at it as a subscription based model made a lot of sense. We also had to get some new people. Particularly on the sales side, to be able to articulate this message. As again, our selling organization, while they’re very, very capable and market leading and what they do. They sell physical products and making that transition is difficult. We’re getting there. But it’s something that I’m sure a lot of companies struggle with and having this little sandbox to play with, I think puts us in a really, really unique place.

Sean Ammirati: 11:26 Yeah and I want to get to how this impacts the rest of MSA, in a moment here. But just sticking the minute on this, how it was created. So you touched on a couple of things, I think that are, for lack of a better term, sort of an unfair competitive advantage relative to a couple of folks at a startup accelerator somewhere doing this, right?

Sean Ammirati: 11:49 One is your brand. Two is the customer deployments that are out there. So it’s not like you’ve got to go figure out how to get hundreds of thousands of these devices sending you data. You are the producer of these data. But I think the other thing is there’s also just an understanding of how the market reacts to things.

Sean Ammirati: 12:08 Although it’s a very R&D centric company, as I’ve observed, it’s also a very customer centric company. The care about the customer here, you just can’t miss it as you walked through the halls and things like that. How do you think your customers are reacting to this new version of MSA?

Gustavo Lopez: 12:25 I think very positively. I think, we’ve had customers … In particular, we had a very, very major customers doing a lot of work here in western Pennsylvania. About two months ago, came to our facilities and just … we shared with them our vision of what we’re doing and I believe the exact word is just, “Wow.”

Gustavo Lopez: 12:43 We thought MSA was just this stale old company in 10 years and you guys have really, really changed. It’s a really positive and the industry is a very conservative industry. MSA historically, has been that as well. But just seeing this change and the fact that we’re 105 year old company and have this unfair competitive advantage, we’re in a much better position to change things then again, two people in a garage because we are a thought leader. I think once we do some of those things the industry really will follow.

Sean Ammirati: 13:11 So that’s the customers, it sort of speaks to them now how the customers are reacting to it. Let’s talk about how the rest of MSA is being impacted by Safety IO. As you said, I’ve met your CEO, he’s I would say most corporate entrepreneurs dream CEO to be working for. He’s certainly supportive and gets the vision. How do you think though Safety IO impacts the org top to bottom?

Gustavo Lopez: 13:36 So again, this is another very interesting topic. We think of Safety IO as an incubator for new ideas. The way that it’s working right now and the way that … the support that we’re getting by everybody is we’re having people from all sorts of sides of the company come in and say, “Well, we really wanted to try this, but it’s too risky to try it for the 4,800 person organization.”

Gustavo Lopez: 13:59 What have you tried in this little spot? And let’s see how it works. We can do that. I mean, the confines of what we have is small, it’s protected. There’s not a lot of risk in failing as long as you fail fast and you learn from it. So we’ve been able to implement a lot of new ideas that eventually are going to make their way back into the larger MSA organization.

Gustavo Lopez: 14:17 One of the things that Nish, our CEO and I talk about is, how can we take some of the areas and some of the learnings that we have right now to transform MSA? Because the reality is the world has changed, right? Being in business for 105 years, while it’s very impressive, you have to adapt. Going from the physical age, the physical manufacturer product age to the digital age is complex.

Gustavo Lopez: 14:40 When you look at what’s happening with the industrial workers, demographics and five years from now there’s going to be this huge amount of folks retiring and a new area of workers coming in. The expectations are going to change dramatically as well with that. So this puts us in a much better position to start really changing organically MSA, which is always a little easier to do then trying to have it with … come in with a stick and just try to change some things.

Sean Ammirati: 15:06 Yeah. It’s a great reference point for them. I know some of the folks, as you mentioned, you’ve gone and you’ve hired some expertise from outside, added some sales expertise. But you’ve also pulled people in from within the organization. What was that process like of putting this whole thing together?

Gustavo Lopez: 15:23 Again, I mean, I think this was the last year of my life and it was very interesting. We were fortunate enough that we have a lot of really capable people. The person that we put in charge of running the business and doing the day-to-day, is actually an entrepreneur himself.

Gustavo Lopez: 15:38 He had a couple of companies right out of college. He had his own company that he grew three, four, five years as … it was his own company. It was an Ebay based company. He had that drive, that desire to be an entrepreneur and our head R&D gentleman, he also had started, co-founded a couple of startups in Berlin, in the Germany area.

Gustavo Lopez: 16:02 So we were in a pretty fortunate position. But one of the reasons they both left that startup scene is the uncertainty. The uncertainty that they have to provide for their families and so forth. So how do you deal with that? And having the ability to do this within the confines of the larger organization, that’s just by the nature of things is going to have a little bit more protection and a less risk that it’s going to go under and so forth. It kind of helped us push this along.

Gustavo Lopez: 16:30 The other thing I’ll say is when you’re looking at doing something like this, the people that are in charge of it, the people that are in there are probably as critical, if not more critical than the idea itself. If you don’t have passionate people that are committed, that are invested, there’s a lot of ups and downs when you’re trying to implement something like this. If you don’t have people that are staying true to the vision and just working through it, you’re not going to survive it.

Sean Ammirati: 16:56 Yeah. It’s actually, I think an underappreciated and really good point. One of the things that I always am trying to map out in my head is similarities and differences between what I call a traditional startup and a corporate startup. I think the interesting thing about the people element of it is that it’s in many ways the most similar and the most different.

Sean Ammirati: 17:19 I believe like the right team in either of those environments is as critical an element of success as anything and you just said the same thing. But you also illustrated the difference between it. There are points in people’s lives, there are reasons why on a risk adjusted basis they may want to take more risks and on other points in their life or family lifestyle, stability, risk tolerance, they might want to take more or less. So you’re often, I think finding corporate entrepreneurs with a little different skew that way. But you can’t overlook the value of having the right person involved or the right group of people involved.

Sean Ammirati: 18:01 So you mentioned something else that’s interesting, which is that the R&D centers in Germany here. So how did that all come to be and how has it been having part of the team here in the states and part of the team over in Europe?

Gustavo Lopez: 18:13 I mean it works really well because I mean, it’s a six hour difference, but with video conferencing, all the tools out there, it’s actually pretty unique. Berlin is a hotbed for startups. So when you look at one of the areas that we need to differentiate ourselves is with the talent that we have.

Gustavo Lopez: 18:28 So, Heiko Will, who’s our CTO and is based out of Berlin. He’s a PHD computer scientist that has a lot of relationships there with the startup community and the universities there. So it gives us a really, really good pipeline of talent that we’re going to go after. So that’s really how that came about to be. So we kind of built it around the one person. Again, it goes back to my point, when you’re looking at making these type of investments, you invest in the people as much as you do the idea.

Gustavo Lopez: 18:53 Having the people that can actually implement things allows us to do that. While at the same side, we do have a Pittsburgh tie, so wherever we can find talent here as well. Although, in terms of numbers, it’s not as big, but in terms of quality, it’s just as good.

Gustavo Lopez: 19:08 So we just hired a data scientist here out of the Pittsburgh area. Wherever we can, we try to find the best talent and having a beach head both in Pittsburgh, which is where MSA corporate headquarters are and in Berlin gives us really the best of both worlds.

Sean Ammirati: 19:21 Yeah. I think that’s interesting. Again, it’s the type of resources that a large established company moving into this can do that might be a little trickier, if you were just a couple folks.

Sean Ammirati: 19:32 So you describe Safety IO as an incubator within MSA in some ways and this sort of place for testing out new transformative innovation. Imagine not in the safety space, so they’re not competitive, don’t worry. But somebody listening to this who might be in another kind of physical product, industrial company who’s thinking like, “Oh, I’d like to launch a similar type of startup within my company and help make the shift from physical to digital and try to create this transformative innovation.” What advice would you have for them as they’re starting out on the journey that you’ve just come through here?

Gustavo Lopez: 20:05 A couple of things. Number one, don’t underestimate the people. The people side to me is the number one thing that I will look for. Surround yourself with a group of people that are passionate about making this change and are going to go through the ups and downs ’cause believe me, you will have them. I can tell you all the seven stages of grief that we’ve gone throughout this process.

Gustavo Lopez: 20:25 You go from tremendously exciting when you’re going to just start the company. Say, “Oh my God, look at all this work.” To, it’s difficult, right? So if you don’t have the people that are going to stand behind it and lead you through this, you’re not likely going to be successful. So I’d say that’s probably number one.

Gustavo Lopez: 20:41 Number two, be transparent with your executive sponsors and your CEO about the risk and rewards of this. I mean, I think oftentimes when people look at a startup, sure you can change the world. But the reality is, one out of ten startups are the ones that actually make it. Granted in a corporate environment, you should have a little bit better odds.

Gustavo Lopez: 21:02 But be transparent and communicate often and make sure you have that support. So again, if our CEO and executive team weren’t as supportive, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. I mean, I believe that, even though there’s been ups and downs were more or less thriving right now, in terms of the momentum we’re carrying in the marketplace, what we’ve been able to do here from a technology perspective. That only works with support ’cause there’s been times where I’ve sat with our CEO and we’re reviewing the numbers, were reviewing how we’re doing with our subscribers and so forth. And he just looks at me in the face and says, “Look, don’t get down on yourself. This is hard. This very hard to do. You’re building something from scratch that hasn’t been done before. It’s gonna take longer than you expected, but just keep at it and keep chipping away.” If you have a good idea and you have the right people, you’ll be successful.

Sean Ammirati: 21:52 Yeah, I think that’s an underappreciated thing too, right? Is that these executives sponsors, in your case, Nish, the CEO, right? He’s almost functions like your VC in some ways. When stuff gets nasty, you’ve got to first call of someone who you can talk to and walk you through that. What about, in terms of that first part, the transparency thing? Any ways that you found helpful to start those conversations?

Gustavo Lopez: 22:22 I go back to the fact that we use a lot of lean and agile principles. It’s all about being transparent with our boards. Everything is published really on a weekly basis. We have daily standup’s and we invite everybody to that, everybody’s welcome. From the executives, all the way down to somebody working on the floor. We have nothing to hide because I think at the end of the day, as long as you’re transparent about what you’re trying to do and when you’re trying to achieve, you’ll eventually get to much better results.

Gustavo Lopez: 22:49 But that’s a huge mind shift, right? I mean, I think there has to be a tremendous amount of trust, that if you’re going to open yourself up like this, it’s going to be reciprocated and they’re going to help you out. Fortunately, MSA and the mission has really, really been supportive. Which again, I go back to that’s really how this is going to work is, trust and transparency to me are key elements of moving forward with something like this.

Sean Ammirati: 23:12 I also think they trust you because you have a history of success within the organization. Right?

Gustavo Lopez: 23:17 Sure.

Sean Ammirati: 23:17 Which is probably easier for me to say than you, but I think it’s something that corporate entrepreneurs shouldn’t forget. Putting wins on the board makes it easier. Then, when you … go to, the CEO, to go to the board and say, “Look, this is what we’re going to do and Gustavo’s never done anything here before.”

Sean Ammirati: 23:38 There were examples of you putting wins on the board. You’ve been at MSA for a long time. You’re a known entity here. You personally are a known contributor here. I think that is really important, when I think about the folks who’ve had success. We had a guy who you’ll meet in May at the conference we’re doing, that we’re participating in, Dennis Boecker, who talked about what he did inside Bosch and it was the same thing.

Sean Ammirati: 24:02 Dennis had put a bunch of wins on the board. So when Dennis came and said, “Hey, this is a larger, bigger bet.” It wasn’t like, “Well, what have you ever done for me lately?” There were proof points there. I think you have a very similar background there. I want to finish the way I like to finish each of these interviews. So go back to just finishing up your MBA. I think at that time it was called GSA. Now it’s Tepper, The Carnegie Mellon MBA.

Gustavo Lopez: 24:28 Actually it was still an MBA. I’m not that old.

Sean Ammirati: 24:30 Oh, you’re actually Tepper?

Gustavo Lopez: 24:32 I was Tepper, yeah.

Sean Ammirati: 24:32 You were. Oh, wow.

Gustavo Lopez: 24:33 I was Tepper, yeah.

Sean Ammirati: 24:34 I did not realize that. I thought you were part of the GSIA. Okay. So you just finished up your time at Tepper and you’ve gone on to do lots of interesting things. Fast forward and imagine that instead of getting that MBA, when you did, you got it just this year and you’re embarking on your career and someone says to you, “Gustavo, I want to have the same kind of impact on my career that you’re having in your career.” What advice would you give him or her?

Gustavo Lopez: 25:01 I go back to, find something, find a career path or an idea or company that you’re passionate about and you can get behind. So if I look in my career, why I’ve been so successful or had the successes and opportunities that I’ve had at an MSA, it really is because of the mission and what we’re doing.

Gustavo Lopez: 25:18 I mean, there’s always things that on paper may look more interesting or personal success and money wise, you can always try to chase that. I’m not sure that it’d be as rewarding. So when I look at … If I see a recent graduate, I would 100% give them that advice. I can tell them from my own personal experience that I’ve had a direct impact on saving somebody’s lives. Not that that’s obviously the only career out there, but it’s very rewarding.

Gustavo Lopez: 25:45 So when you have something that you believe in and that you’re passionate about, it’s gonna push you to go above and beyond. Intelligence only gets you so far, then it becomes drive. It becomes kind of doing the right thing and going above and beyond and growing as a professional and individual. If you don’t believe in the mission, you don’t believe in what you’re doing, it’s gotta to be hard for you to have this amount of success.

Gustavo Lopez: 26:09 Again, it’s all about what drives you. But probably one of the biggest things that I would tell a recent grad is find something you’re passionate about, that you believe in. You’ll sink your teeth into and you’ll be tremendously successful.

Sean Ammirati: 26:20 I guess maybe to follow up on that, ’cause I think that’s a great point and it’s something you can’t miss. Obviously, people can’t just come to MSA and walk around, but when you walk around here, you just can’t miss the mission behind it. You were already at MSA before you got your MBA, right? So how did you figure that out and then find a place like MSA?

Gustavo Lopez: 26:36 I mean, being honest, it was somewhat fortuitous, right? I was doing master’s in research and engineering and smart sensors. MSA had a division on that. I think that’s one of the … back in 2004, I’m not sure that MSA was as well known as it is now. Even there’s people outside the safety space, there may not be as much, it just fit. But once you get in there and once you start seeing the impact you have, it’s a really, really powerful story.

Gustavo Lopez: 27:01 I mean it’s easy to get behind and you always look throughout your career, right? I mean as your different phases of your life. In my case, I was starting a family and so forth. So you look for financial stability and potentially the ability to make more somewhere else.

Gustavo Lopez: 27:16 Those opportunities always exist, but I always look at the work-life balance and also, being rewarded. Doing something that means a little bit more. So I think that’s really made a big impact on me and my life and really my career.

Sean Ammirati: 27:29 Yeah. It sounds like it was serendipitous to end up at a place this high impactful. But then, once you’re here, it’s kept here, which is great. Gustavo, I appreciate you making the time for this. Thanks for coming on and thanks for the time today.

Gustavo Lopez: 27:42 No problem. Thank you, Sean.

Sean Ammirati: 27:50 I hope you enjoyed this episode of Agile Giants. If so, consider sharing it with a friend and if you think it’s worth five stars, which I hope you do, please go to iTunes and rate it so that others can find this content as well.

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