10 in 10: Alex Lester – UAV Studio
Alex Lester – Managing Director of aerial inspections, surveying and thermography business, UAV Studio, is the latest regional business professional in the hot seat as we give him just 10 minutes to answer our 10 burning questions.
What does a typical working day for you involve?
A typical day starts with a cup of tea and a dog walk. My wife and I got a black lab pup, Jeff, during lockdown and his morning walks provide a great opportunity for me to think about the day ahead. With the dog walked, I’ll get to my desk at 08:30 and will kick things off with a few emails, followed by any other admin tasks that need seeing to.
Once those admin bits are out of the way, I can then start planning any drone missions or videography shoots I have scheduled. This involves filing weather reports, completing briefs and in certain cases, contacting local air traffic controllers to obtain the necessary permissions to fly in restricted airspace.
There’s also a lot of data processing involved with my job too, and if I’m not working on any future missions or editing videos, chances are I’ll be sitting in my office on Pix4D or DJI’s thermal imaging software - creating detailed reports for our clients.
What makes your company special?
While drone service providers used to be something of a rare breed, today there are tons of sole traders and limited companies sharing the same space. What makes us different is that we used lockdown to onboard Cat 1 Certification to carry out aerial thermography inspections, enabling us to use our infrared drones to carry out a range of complex jobs - everything from inspecting PV units to helping the emergency services in complex search and rescue missions.
Looking at Drone Safe Register - a service setup to help clients connect with drone operators such as UAV Studio - we’re one of only three companies offering aerial thermography here in Yorkshire, and we’re really excited to see where that of the business can take us in the years ahead.
Do you have any business rules that you swear by?
Whether working on a video shoot for a commercial client or delivering a drone mission for a farmer, I believe that organisation is the key. This rings true at home too - and keeping on top of my inbox, settling invoices on time and generally keeping on top of those niggly administrative tasks really helps to keep everything else in order.
Do you dress up or down for work?
I’m very new-school in this regard and tend to work in a polo shirt, jeans and heavy duty boots when out on a job. We’ve also got branded gilets at our disposal, which come in very handy when the temperature starts to drop (as is often the case here in Yorkshire).
What piece of advice would you give your 18-year old self?
Don’t go to university. There’s plenty of money to be made for those willing to dedicate their time to vocational training - even in niche areas such as filmmaking, photography and drone operations - without the need for boring lectures and mountains of student debt.
What’s your favourite Yorkshire venue for an event or team away day?
Valley Parade, Bradford. Up the Bantams!
How do you prefer to travel for business?
Given that a lot of our work takes place in rural areas I spend a lot of time driving around in my trusty Volvo V60. I’ll likely upgrade my vehicle next year to something a little more farm-friendly though, and quite fancy a pick-up truck for lugging all my heavy drones and video equipment around.
What’s your favourite place in Yorkshire to relax?
My wife and I live just down the road from the Yorkshire Dales, and count ourselves extremely lucky to have so many brilliant walks right on our doorstep. Because of that, I’d have to say when it comes to relaxing, for us, there’s no place like home.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Yorkshire, and what dish do you recommend?
There’s a cracking cafe at Keelham Farm Shop and I’d strongly recommend any of their pies!
What do you miss most about Yorkshire when you’re away?
That’s easy - the people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with tons of amazing clients all over the UK, but Yorkshire folk are quite simply the best.