Talent Spotlight is a regular feature profiling the employees of Product Creation Studio. See the Talent Spotlight archive for more interviews.
What led you to a career in product development?
As early as I can remember I have always wanted to design and build things. I come from a long line of makers - bakers, shoe makers, painters, seamstress/tailors and my father was an Aeronautical Mechanical Engineer…I may have not had a chance. :)
Prior to university, I worked for my father's engineering shop where I did everything from filing engineers' resumes to working as a recruiter during the summer. This experience helped me gain an understanding of the different engineering paths. This led me to attend the University of Washington's College of Mechanical Engineering.
Over the last 20 years, I've been involved with the development of products from many industries ranging from heavy duty automotive to consumer products to medical devices. It's been an interesting and fulfilling journey, especially when the product hits the market. I've been known to point out a product on TV or a hood hinge on a dump truck while driving on the highway with a sort of parental fondness.
What excites you most about your job?
The combination of working with highly skilled, multidisciplinary teams on projects of all kinds is very exciting.
I've experienced product development within a relatively narrow market channel and have faced the struggles of getting any traction with a new-to-industry design concept. The departure from the norm can be too much for some people.
At Product Creation Studio, I have enjoyed learning about new industry problems and working with the client and our team of highly motivated designers and engineers to develop the amazing solutions.
Describe your most rewarding work experience to date.
There are many products on the market that I am proud to have been a part of the development process on; but I think the most rewarding experience is related to guiding improved communication. Over the years I've worked as an Engineer, a Manager, and a Director and each level, I have witnessed communication struggles between teams - designers, engineers and manufacturers. I was able to identify specific pain points and develop tools to assist in communicating important information at the right time, allowing each team to work at their best level. They can present and communicate their design intent, issues and recommendations with smoother transitions and less surprises. There's always some surprises in new product development - but that's one of the exciting parts!
One of the best examples is when a new factory in Europe was being used to launch a new product. The concept reviews, design reviews and the design hand-off were all handled smoothly and effectively. My second visit to the factory was for the T1 (first off-tooling) sample review and the quality was outstanding - especially with a factory we had never worked with before. I like to think the clear communication during the development process left no stones unturned and no questions unanswered - leading to success for all teams involved.
Where is the best place you've traveled to and why?
Malta. I had the opportunity to travel to Malta and I was blown away with clash of ancient environment and modern technology. The roads, walls, and buildings in each town looked as if they hadn't changed for hundreds of years - yet the technology was so advanced.
Most of the little cafes we visited were housed in old limestone buildings dating back to the knights era and the wait staff would take our order and payment on an iPad. The owner of the apartment we rented that dated back to the 1500’s was from a professor at the University of Malta in Artificial Intelligence.
I haven't experienced an old environment vs. new technology clash to that extent in other Mediterranean countries before.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
One of my favorite things to do is to entertain and cook for friends and family.
My family also owns an olive grove in Carmel Valley, California. We’ve been spending more and more time each year with maintaining and pruning the trees, joining in on the big annual olive harvest and coordinating the sales of the extra virgin olive oil. We are relatively new at the whole process but we're working to make it a seamless process!
I also spend time sewing small felt creatures for friends and to sell at craft fairs. While most of my creatures are static and just meant to brighten a cubical or living room wall, I have utilized some engineering skills in making wings for a free standing peacock.