Jackson (Jack) Richards, a product manager and long-time Polymathian employee, is responsible for the overall direction of two Polymathian products, VOLT and GEAR. At Polymathian, that means responsibility for business development, finding new projects and then overseeing the execution of those projects, as well as writing code, managing people, and mentoring graduate students and interns.
- Jack, what did you do before coming to Polymathian?
- Prior to joining Polymathian, I worked as an energy market analyst for a vertically integrated energy company. VOLT actually grew from my previous experience building optimisation tools while supporting a power station project team.
- I love to hear that we work for an organisation that leverages the experience of its team members to innovate and grow its product line. What is your favourite thing about working at Polymathian?
- My favourite thing is the varied problems I get to solve across multiple industries. I've worked in shipping , rail, energy, mining and asset maintenance. Few companies offer that sort of project variety.
- Good point! You've been here six years now; of which project are you most proud?
- Our first VOLT project. It is a real-time software tool, which means it was a complex project to design and execute, but the customer has been running the tool for 18 months and has derived a lot of real value from it.
- How about personally?
- Personally, it would be receiving my red belt in kung fu, which took 10 years of training to achieve.
- Does that mean you are a kung fu master?
- Yes 😁.
- For those like me that may not know, a red belt in Chinese martial arts is similar to a black belt in other styles. That's truly amazing, Jack. How has your devotion to kung fu influenced your professional life?
- It's been beneficial for me in terms of managing people - instructing students is very similar. You must be able to relate to different peoples' personalities and evaluate their level of understanding so that you can grow their knowledge each time you see them.
- So, Jack, talk to me about an industry trend impacting how we do business.
- Without a doubt, it's the availability of cloud computing resources. The explosion of cloud service providers has enabled organisations to reduce IT workloads, increase scalability, collaboration and access for customers and employees. Today you can simply log on to a computer anywhere in the world and access computing power that 10-years ago would have required a significant upfront investment. This advancement is particularly beneficially to startups and small businesses. The scalability aspect of cloud-based computing is especially important to Polymathian. Solving complex optimisation problems requires large amounts of computing power. We can spin up machines with hundreds of cores in seconds to solve specific problems. Cloud-based computing allows businesses like Polymathian to scale up and back down again when needed, giving Polymathian products more agility, and therefore problem solving flexibility.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jack as much as I did. If you'd like to discuss how Polymathian can "use maths and computers to solve hard problems for your company" or just want to test Jack's Seinfeld knowledge, connect with him on LinkedIn.
About the interviewer
Tami Pizani is the newest member of the Polymathian marketing team and has made it her mission to shine a spotlight on the employees behind Polymathian's success. Tami loves a great underdog story, discovering commonalities when meeting someone new, and a healthy debate over the use of the Oxford comma. You can connect with Tami on LinkedIn