06 Dec Aspire to Tech: VP of Innovation & Technology at Motion Metrics
What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?
My title is VP of Innovation and Technology at Motion Metrics. I come from an engineering background and work within our research and development, and product development teams. Currently, my role involves working with the government to secure funding for our innovation and new project initiatives, and IP protection. Also working with various R&D teams. Although, I am less operationally involved in R&D now, but I am in a consultation role. I help connect and align the various teams.
We currently have multiple offices in the Greater Vancouver area. I’m working out of our downtown office mainly. Before I was VP of Innovation and Technology, I was the Director of Research and Development.
What makes your job interesting?
What makes it interesting for me seeing the whole lifecycle of product development, right from the idea, and initiation all the way through the different stages of development, until the time is actually being deployed for our customers. Then working on solving the challenges that arise after. Just observing that whole life cycle is very rewarding, especially coming from a smaller company. Sometimes it takes a long time, and we have to overcome a lot of challenges. Other times it goes smoother. Often it takes a few iterations to get it right. But that itself is quite rewarding for me.
What is the most fun?
There are a lot of things that make it fun, for me at least. Like seeing the finished product, seeing that a project has been completed or having a success like a patent being granted or when an application to government funding for a new project is accepted. All of those are great, but the most fun is just the people. I would say just working with a great group of people that feels like being a part of a big family. I think that’s the most fun.
What is the most challenging?
The most challenging for us, is facing unexpected or unforeseen situations in the mining environment. Mining is quite different and unique from other industries. Our products must be extremely durable. Even the type of data we’re gathering is quite challenging and unique to mining. Even with our many years of experience, we face challenges that we have not seen before, and we have to ensure our products perform to a very high standard every time.
How does your role help drive the company’s success?
There are two main aspects in my current role. First, enabling resources and bringing in new funding or connections with government agencies, or other things that enable us to expand our resources and take on new projects and new challenges. The other one, which is important from company point of view, is protection of intellectual property and making sure our ideas are protected through patenting or other means. These are two areas that I have direct influence over.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?
For me, it’s usually it’s a lot of meetings with different R&D teams or our executive management. I have a lot of meetings with external stakeholders related to patenting IP, or different government fundings as well. I also stay on top of the technical aspects of our products and keep up-to-date on new advances in technology. Any chance that I get I like to do a deep dive, technically, into what we’re developing, or new technology that is related to our industry or our company. It’s a combination of these two, that fills my typical workday.
Tell us about your career history?
I graduated with a PhD from UBC’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. I did my bachelor’s back in Iran and then Master’s in University of Waterloo, before moving to Vancouver, where I ended up staying. Interestingly, I worked with our CEO Shahram on one of the very first projects for Motion Metrics. I worked with him as a consultant for a couple of years. That’s how I started my career in this industry. Then I transitioned into the automotive industry. I worked with robotic vision company called Brain Tech, as a senior vision engineer. I stayed on with them but moved into a role in engineering management and project management. During the 2008 recession, I left that company and began working for a medical research company that was working with MRI. This was based in Hawaii, which was an interesting experience for me.
Shahram and I stayed in touch and remained good friends. One day we were talking, and he was telling me about some challenges they were facing at Motion Metrics, and I decided to return to the company. I came back to Vancouver to join, first as a consultant, and then then in a product management role, and then moved to research development, and now as the VP of Innovation.
What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?
I was working in a clothing store as a helper to the salesperson there. This was when I was still a youngster back in Iran, before migrating to Canada. That was one of my first jobs ever. More professionally, when I was doing my studies, I was working at part-time job for a company that produced microprocessor boards for educational purposes. We were designing them and putting them together. That was when I was already interested in electronics and Computer Engineering. I was very interested in this work and wanted to continue on that path. I enjoyed doing that work a lot.
Where might you go next?
I’m very much enjoying my current role. However, the impact that I’m having in our organization is different from what I used to do. I’ve always been in a product development role, responsible for meeting specifications and meeting our customer’s requirements. Now I’m not doing that as much, but instead, I am in an advisory role and looking for resources to make the new and innovative projects happen and protect our intellectual property. I’ve been enjoying that quite a bit. And, of course, being involved in various aspects of that, as a top management of the company. I’ve enjoyed that too.
I definitely don’t have any plans to leave Motion Metrics. I’m enjoying it, I want to stay within the organization. My boss is the CEO of the company. If he retires, maybe I want to be the CEO.
What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?
I would definitely stay in tech. I find that technology has a big impact on many aspects of our lives. It’s constantly changing and innovating. Looking at my career, over the past 20 years, something things have changed so much, so significantly, it’s difficult to keep up. Working in tech is never boring. You never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over. That’s what I love the most about technology. That and the fact that it’s full of people that have the ambition and the drive to make a difference. Whether that’s in a niche market like mining, or something broader like environmental climate change. Technology can make a real impact, and I would like to stay here. I enjoy my current role, but I am open to new opportunities that would allow me to continue on a similar path. I think I would enjoy that.
I really believe technology is a very important factor in solving some of the big challenges that we all, as a human race, are facing. The more we invest in our children and the future, the better off we will be. I think technology is at the core of that.
Any final words of advice?
I’ve been lucky in my career to work in an area that I enjoy and feel passionate about. That’s not to say every minute of every day was enjoyable. There are always challenges, there are always things you have to do that you do not necessarily enjoy. But when you feel your impact, that’s important. That is what makes the effort worthwhile.
My advice for youngsters would be to look for what you are passionate about. Then consider the overall impact it will have on the world – to society and the environment. If you can find a combination of what you enjoy and what can have an impact, you will enjoy your work and be fulfilled. It is not easy to find that though. My advice to my own daughters is to take a few years to identify your passion. It’s ok to go to college, not knowing exactly what you want. That is the time to explore and find what it you’re passionate about. It’s very difficult at a young age to know exactly what that is. It’s good to have a direction and drive, but it’s more important to find what that passion is.
And if you’re not sure, technology is always a good choice.