Introducing our Product Manager, Jez
During the pandemic, while many companies were battling against covid-induced layoffs, we were in a fortunate and exciting position of growth. We continue to evolve from startup to scaleup made possible by a hardworking team, including one of our recent hires: Product Manager, Jez Ellis-Gray.
From supersonic hair-dryers to supercharged GPS
Jez lead a product team at Dyson that was responsible for developing new category concepts but he’s swapped hairdryers for a different kind of tech; location based tech which we all rely on for one reason or another. The key acronym here is ‘PNT’ which stands for positioning, navigation and timing - a feisty trio of capabilities that make navigating from A to B safe and efficient. PNT impacts everyday life; runners depend on their sports watch to accurately pace their marathons, yacht owners use onboard GPS receivers to navigate busy marinas and millions of smartphone users flag their position on ride hailing apps. FocalPoint’s award-winning software upgrades the sensitivity and accuracy of any device that uses GPS by up to ten times.
Jez is responsible for spotlighting the use cases and products that would benefit from our technology and here’s a glimpse into world as a Product Manager.
Where in the UK are you based and what do you do, day-to-day?
I live in the Cotswolds and work out of the Bristol office. Currently we are working almost entirely from home, but I am looking forward to spending more time in the office. I think you can’t beat proper face-time (not FaceTime!) to build relationships in a way that isn't practical or as meaningful over video calls.
My role as Product Manager is to make sure that we are making the products our customers really need. Having been on the product development side in the past, I know how easy it is to design what you think people will want or what you want to make, rather than what is actually required! We do this through speaking to the customer and questioning why they want things a certain way - quite often the customer isn't clear what they need. Then I work with the development teams to generate requirements and ensure that the product is meeting them.
What product are you most excited about benefiting from precise accuracy and why?
For me, the most exciting opportunity for FocalPoint is consumer smartphones and watches. There are so many great applications for improving GNSS, most of which are commercial and industrial, but I am really looking forward to seeing Supercorrelation and D-Tail working on my own devices.
We have all had painful moments with GNSS, such as having a taxi turn up at the wrong side of a road or strange routes showing on your running apps. Most recently I was using a rental scooter and it wouldn't let me leave because it said I wasn't in the correct parking area… when I most definitely was! So selfishly, I can’t wait to have all problems with GNSS solved!
What was it like joining a team amidst a national health pandemic?
I will hold up my hands and say I am not a fan of working in a room all by myself. I love working with other people, and that's when I’m at my best. So when I started at FocalPoint this was one of my bigger reservations. Starting a new job during COVID meant I hadn’t ever met anyone before, and did not have those previous relationships built up. But everyone was so welcoming and helpful, that it hasn't been a problem at all. I joined every call I could and asked all the questions I could think of and forced my way in! I have really enjoyed my first seven months, and while I’m looking forward to getting back into the office, I will enjoy days working from the comfort of my home office with the cat!
Dyson (global company) to FocalPoint (startup), what was the transition like?
Surprisingly easy! I came from a Product Design role, so although what I'm doing now is quite different, it was a great feeling sussing out this new job and finding where I can add value.
In a startup environment, there are very few existing processes (which can be a good and bad thing) so these need developing, and you take for granted how many are in place in a big company. What's brilliant is that you get to shape the new processes and figure out how to make them helpful rather than painful!
What do you like most about your job as a Product Manager?
My favourite aspect is working with customers to figure out what it is they want and need. It's easy to think you know what you should be making, but if that doesn't align with what the customer will buy - you are wasting everyones time. When speaking with customers, I really love those moments where you get a new lightbulb-moment as to what is driving them, or how they use the product or what is most important to their customers.
The future of an autonomous, connected world revolves around hyper-accuracy and we’re excited to work with our customers on making this a reality. If you’re interested in a product demo, please head over to our contact form.
If our mission, to improve every positioning solution on the planet, sounds like a journey you’d like to be part of - why not take a look at our open roles.