As Oncology Imaging Systems approaches its 24th birthday, commemorating nearly a quarter of a century since its inception, we decided to explore the journey of OIS. To gain insights into the company's history, we sat down with Steve Imber, the Founder of OIS, who has led the organisation since 1999.
What inspired you to start Oncology Imaging Systems?
I originally became inspired by the healthcare industry after my first son was born and he was really ill. I witnessed how the hospital staff took such amazing care of him, and I knew at that point I wanted to do whatever I could to give something back. That experience changed my career (and life) trajectory as years later, I left a company that was not patient-focused to start Oncology Imaging Systems.
What does patient-focused mean to you and how did that influence OIS?
Being patient-focused to me means prioritising the needs of my customers and their patients, and going above and beyond to support and enable clinical teams. When I started OIS, I spent the first year almost entirely with customers. I was convinced from day one that I could do a better job [than the company I had left] by getting to know my customers properly, understanding their clinical demands and building the company around their needs.
How has the field of oncology evolved since you founded OIS?
Over the life of OIS, radiotherapy has changed dramatically. Digitalisation, and the speed at which computers now operate, have meant radiotherapy is much more personalised and adaptable, resulting in better outcomes. I’ve also seen the development of therapeutic radiography as a profession where radiographers play a significant role in the research and implementation of new techniques. Consultant grade radiographers have also had a huge impact on the treatment pathway and the benefits to the patients are something the profession can be very proud of.
What do you think sets OIS apart from other companies in this industry?
What sets OIS apart from other companies is a total commitment to honesty and integrity and keeping the patient at the forefront of everything we do. We have built a fantastic team of committed and driven people who all share our patient-first ethos. I am proud to hear customers describe the team as approachable, friendly, honest, trusted and reliable.
What has been your proudest moment as the founder of OIS?
There was a moment when we realised that we had products in use in every radiotherapy centre in the UK and Ireland and that was a big deal. More recently, I felt pretty emotional seeing masks supplied by OIS in the Science Museum.
Radiotherapy masks on display at the London Science Museum, originally supplied by Team OIS
What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt as founder of OIS?
The biggest lesson I have learned is that you never stop learning about people, technology and life. Don’t underestimate the amount of work and effort you need to put into a company to make it successful. Make sure you balance your work and life goals as time goes very fast.
What advice would you give to someone just entering the industry?
Go for it! I will happily talk to students at career events and recommend the industry to others. I would say it’s one of the most exciting and constantly evolving industries, with great people, technology, and the ability to make a difference.
What were your long-term goals and aspirations for OIS when you first founded the company, and do you feel like you’ve achieved them now?
My original goals were to make a positive impact on the industry and to give my family the best life I could. My plan at that time was to have a small company; I anticipated employing two or three people. In the early years we grew exponentially so I suppose you could say I achieved my initial goals very quickly. Our next growth phase came when we started working with other companies, and my aspirations went from a small but positive impact to realising we could have a significant impact across multiple sectors.
I also aspired to create a positive working environment as an employer where everybody is treated as equals and valued highly. Having left my previous employer due to the way they treated their employees, I promised myself I would never do the same. Now OIS is firmly established as a sought-after company to work for, having a strong culture where individuals are encouraged to thrive. We have a very low staff turnover, with some team members having been with us for many years. I have always wanted everybody in the team to share in the success of the business.
How do you see your new role as Founding Director?
Moving away from the day-to-day responsibilities of the business gives me time to focus on our company values and vision for future growth. I have always enjoyed the customer-facing aspect of my role, and because of that, I am still involved in the installation of equipment and exhibitions.
Thank you, Steve!
On behalf of the entire team, we congratulate Steve on OIS's 24-year milestone. Under Steve's guidance and expertise, Oncology Imaging Systems has become established as a successful company and a brilliant place to work! Thank you, Steve, for your dedication to the company and industry.