Faces of Lubricants: Mike Flute

Sep 22, 2021

Mike Flute recently joined Ingevity as sales and marketing manager for our Lubricants and Oilfield customers in the EMEA region. In this new role, Mike will help lead our growth efforts through targeted promotion and relationship building with multinational companies headquartered in the EU. Analytical, tenacious and outgoing, Mike has a passion for continued learning and bridging the gap between products and customer needs. His chemistry background coupled with his product development and marketing experience makes Mike an ideal candidate for this technical sales role. An extensive globetrotter (35 countries before age 35!) and musical fanatic (Bruce Springsteen devotee), Mike is based near Liverpool, United Kingdom, and enjoys exploring the outdoors with his family during his time off.

Tell us about the experience you bring to your role.

I have always been an analytical thinker, fascinated by how things work, so it was no surprise when I chose to study chemistry at the University of Liverpool. I enjoyed research, contributing to early stage drug discovery at GlaxoSmithKline, assessing novel extreme pressure lubricity additives at Afton Chemical and developing novel PVC additives at INEOS Technologies. I took every opportunity to travel to plant trials and loved the challenges associated with bridging the gap between the lab/pilot and plant implementation. Interacting with customers and technical promotion of our products came naturally, so I pushed for commercial responsibility in 2015. I eventually managed almost 40% of the “Vinyls Technologies” business total gross margin and routinely exceeded budget by double digit percentages.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

I wouldn’t say that there are many “tricks…” Be disciplined, well organized and set targets to maintain your focus on the end goal. Don’t let the everyday tasks become a distraction.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

Being too modest to answer this question, I consulted my wife… she said “stubborn!” without a moment’s hesitation! I suppose that this can be translated to “tenacious or persistent,” I am always determined, happy to take responsibility and never leave a job half finished.

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

Since I am only a month into my career at Ingevity, it’s a little early to boast of any major accomplishments. There were many highlights during my 10 years at INEOS, including when I helped commission two greenfield PVC plants, 200kT in Egypt and 400kT in China. As the only grade development chemist on site for six weeks, I was responsible for adjusting process parameters and the additive “recipe” in order to optimize productivity and quality. The 400kT plant in China is still using “Mr. Mike’s” recipe almost four years later!

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

I love what I do. I enjoy talking and listening to customers, understanding their needs and finding solutions to problems. There is something to be accomplished each day.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

“It’s not necessary to do extraordinary things to achieve extraordinary results.” My previous business manager passed this off as his own when I joined the commercial team, I have since learned it was actually a quote from Warren Buffett! Despite this blatant plagiarism, I think it’s especially relevant in  sales roles… if you consistently do the basics well; communicate, deliver on smart objectives and be open and honest with people, then I’m confident you’ll do well over long periods of time.

What’s the top destination on your must-visit list?

I am fortunate to have been able to travel frequently in recent years and ticked off 35 countries visited before the age of 35! In terms of my “must-visit list…” my wife is from Cyprus, so I am duty bound to say that Cyprus remains at the top of the list.

If she is kind enough to allow me a “back-up” destination, I’d have to say currently Bali or the surrounding islands. A friend has set up his own scuba diving business on the tiny, tropical Gili islands of Indonesia, which is something I have always wanted to try.

Among your friends or family, what are you famous for?

Barbeques at home have adopted a Cypriot theme in recent years and have become a firm favorite amongst family and friends! My specialty is “souvla” – a show stopping rotisserie barbeque over hot coals, enjoyable even in the English weather!

What natural talent would you like to have?

Despite significant financial outlay over the years on more musical instruments than I’ll freely admit, I’ve never progressed beyond “mediocre bar band” quality on either guitar or drums. I’d love to have a natural gift for music or at least be able to find more time to practice!

What is your favorite thing about working at Ingevity?

My first impressions of the culture, atmosphere and expertise within the business has so far exceeded  my expectations! Everyone I’ve met seems wholly invested in the success of the business and enthusiastic about the future opportunities. We have a motivated, experienced, well-balanced team that I’m delighted to have joined and look forward to helping expand our sales in EMEA!

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

We will almost certainly be outside somewhere! We’re well located between lots of national parks and the beautiful scenery of the Peak District and North Wales, so there are endless sites to explore on foot or bicycle. We have an energetic border collie and now an even more energetic 18-month-old toddler! Our objective most weekends is to tire both out during the day to allow us time to ourselves in the evening.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Maybe surprising to my American colleagues to learn that I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I’ve seen him live 36 times (and counting!) across Europe, often ‘queuing’ for several days outside the stadium (us Brits love to queue) to guarantee a front row spot! I can be spotted dancing enthusiastically in several live show videos… so enthusiastically in fact that Bruce once handed me his guitar pick at the finale of a show in Dublin!

What is special about the place you grew up?

I grew up in a commuter town in between two big cities (Liverpool and Manchester). Possibly the best thing I can say is that it instilled in me the desire to travel and broaden my horizons.