Paul Butchart BSc CChem MRSC
National Sales Manager: Special Power Systems
How long have you worked at Hoppecke?
I have worked for HOPPECKE for 20 Years. What is more, I have actually been in the battery industry since 1982 so that is more than 38 years. I started working for Hoppecke UK in September 1999. Claus Zoellner, Marc Zoellner’s father, was heading up Hoppecke Group in the 90s and wanted to set up a more significant presence in the UK. So several of us who are still with the company today, took up his offer to establish the UK office for the motive and standby power business. I have worked in sales manager roles throughout my career in the company. But I love the rail side because it is more technical and you get involved in projects from cradle to grave.
What attracted you to this industry?
I graduated from Strathclyde University where I was studying Applied Chemistry. That had been my passion at school and I was interested in the applied and practical side of the science, in particular electrochemistry. When I left I had a variety of choices including a PhD in Fire Engineering in British Columbia. Nevertheless, I chose to leave my beloved Scotland and take up an R&D job in battery electrochemistry with what was then Chloride Alcad, in the Midland’s, which later became part of the SAFT group.
To me it seems that batteries are the veritable pinnacle of electrochemistry. Battery energy is where chemistry becomes dynamic. I will always be passionate about that and, of course, battery power is becoming much more important everywhere.
How did your upbringing influence your life choices?
As a kid I was curious, about everything. And my parents encouraged that. My dad was a mechanical engineer who had trained as a tool maker. At one point in his career he moved to Thurso to help with the maintenance at the Dounreay nuclear site. But he encouraged me to follow my own path.
Who has been a big influence on you in your career?
A physicist called Tony Green, who was technical director at Alcad, had an impact on me. He was a first-rate scientist and we had many chats about science and life. Yes, I always did appreciate that time with him.
If you had the chance to go on the road trip of a lifetime, and could only bring four people with you (living/dead, real/fictional), who would they be and where would you be going?
Well we would be going to Canada as I always did think about that PhD I nearly did in BC and actually I have a lot of family out there now. I would have Tom Baker with me because he is such a character. He is so funny and I would like to get to know him. Then Professor Brian Cox because of his scientific background and he is so interested in everything. His enthusiasm makes me feel enthusiastic! Also Stephen Fry because that man really is the font of all knowledge. The last choice is harder but it would have to be Sir William Wallace - a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. He was a bit of a rebel and stuck his neck out to stand up for the truth.
What single quality do you think has contributed to your success?
I would say curiosity and determination. I think you need both to excel at science, and in life.
What secret ambitions/talents do you have?
Well for all my talk of science, I harbour artistic tendencies. Whilst I occasionally do some landscape painting, mostly I find extreme colouring very satisfying!
What keeps you getting up and doing this every morning?
I have no idea! I suppose my family’s approach was always quite stoic. Just get on with things and if something needs doing, do it. There is self-control involved and a sense of not giving up.
What do you do to relax or have fun?
I find complicated and detailed relaxing. I am a keen model maker, and am currently working on an ultra-detailed model of the millennium falcon from the first 1977 Star Wars film. Of course, doing the job I do and the passion for trains that I have, you must expect me to be into model trains to!