Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve always been a very competitive person and from an early age had a real love of building things. Whether it be legos, or robotics competitions at Duke, I always wondered “What’s Next”. Because of this I studied Bio-Engineering at Clemson and really enjoyed it. I worked as a research assistant and as a part of a Co-op program where I was exposed to intellectual property research, programming, product development and even marketing. After college I worked in Inside sales in Colorado. I hated public speaking so I wanted to take on the challenge to get out of my shell and since then have loved being on the sales side, building things and helping make customers successful. In my spare time, outside of working in process automation, I’m always doing something, like working on my golf game or refurbishing furniture.
Do you think your experience in inside sales has helped you in your role as Solutions Engineer?
Definitely. Us engineers can be huge nerds and we may not always know how to explain things to a customer. But learning from my mentor in the sales field, I learned how to communicate complex ideas and dive down into the customer’s needs. For example, I learned to ask “Three Whys” to get to the real customer pain point. By asking better questions I can help customers solve the real problems and achieve their goals.
You’ve been in automation for a long time, what made you want to stay in this industry?
Well, in my first automation job I got to work with physical robots in manufacturing, which was really fun as I got to program a robot every day. At the time I had the chance to work on computer vision with physical robots which gave me the chance to, trying to account for every variation, which was a fun big challenge. I’ve always liked the idea of eliminating manual, repetitive tasks and I enjoy getting to decipher the pattern and solve the problem. I’m all about efficiency so that made me stick with the automation industry.
You worked in industrial automation, and then switched to software automation. Have you found a lot of the lessons to be transferable?
The puzzle solving approach has definitely transitioned into SaaS, but there is a lot more freedom in the process automation space. With a physical robot there is only so much you can do, but in process automation it’s a whole new world. There are all sorts of problems and applications where you can use process automation to solve needs. I like the variety. There are a lot of SaaS point solutions, built for one purpose, but I enjoy being able to use broader tools like Kognitos, as even now there is a lot more we can do with Kognitos than we recognize today.
There are a lot of different products and tools in the automation space today. How do you advise customers on this? Should they have different tools, or only one tool?
I always think it’s best to use new tools to complement what you already have. If you have an older tool that is working, and doesn’t have a problem, look to use new tools like Kognitos to complement the existing tools in place. My main goal is for customers to be happy and eliminate manual work. If they need to rip and replace as something isn’t working, fine. But otherwise, use what you have and use newer tech to complement and automate the processes you couldn’t automate cost effectively with older RPA or point solutions.
Why did you come to Kognitos?
We have all of these technologies that customers can use, but as technology evolves there will be better solutions and I saw that with Kognitos. With RPA and other traditional low-code environments, you have to outsource a lot of the implementation and maintenance. I think the purpose of automation is to make life easier and that should happen from implementation all the way through production. I think where traditional RPA and low-code fails is in the implementation stage. Those tools make sense to me as I have an engineering brain, but having to translate that to the way a business user thinks is too hard. Their mind is built in a different way to understand things I wouldn’t even begin to understand, so we need to have a tool that caters to that and makes it easy for them to work with automation. With Kognitos, even people who think differently than an engineer can help improve the automation and see it through. That’s why I came to Kognitos, so we can have an automation tool where you don’t have to know everything up front and spend months figuring out all the exceptions. You can start fast and teach the tool as you go (https://www.kognitos.com/solutions)
Was there anything about Kognitos’ culture that attracted you to join?
One thing I really liked was that in each step of the interview process, I felt that my feedback was valued and heard. The team asked me questions about my view on the market, and the product, and actually took those and used them. So it made me feel like Kognitos is a place where I could fit in, belong and we all have the aspiration of bringing automation to the business user.
Any advice you would give to someone interested in working with Kognitos?
We are an early stage startup. You have to have the desire to go out there and do things yourself. Don’t just wait and sit on your hands. If you want more responsibility, ask for it. You need to be an independent worker but comfortable sharing your ideas. Get after it and get stuff done as you are with your team trying to build a new future. You’ll only be as successful as your team.
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