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Expert Insight: 'We Take An Iterative Approach To Solving Problems'

We talk to Jim Roovers Head of Electronics, R&D at Dyson

22May

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Singapore, we spoke to Jim Roovers Head of Electronics, R&D at Dyson

Based in SEA, Jim is Dyson’s Head of Electronics and oversees the program direction of all electronic technologies from concept to production across all product categories – a key part found in all of Dyson’s machines. He joined Dyson in 2012.

Jim graduated from the University of West-Brabant in the Netherlands specializing in Electronics Power Engineering. The bulk of his career was spent in Philips, the Dutch consumer electronics company, taking on roles ranging from development engineer to global project manager.

In 2010, Jim moved to Singapore from the Netherlands. Together with his wife Lyuba, they have a 10-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old boy and a 7-month-old baby boy. In his free time, he spends time with the family and keeps in shape by cycling, fitness and running.

Dyson is one of the most innovative companies in the world, what do you think has been key to your enduring success?

A relentless approach to problem-solving.

Dyson tackles the problem that others ignore. We are a technology company and invest £7m a week to make our technology the best it can be. We take an iterative approach to solving problems, challenging conventional thinking and asking ‘can this be done differently’?

We are a privately owned company and this means that we can take a long-term view to research and development. This year, we will invest £2.5bn in future technology, including the acquisition of a 517 acre site to increase our UK footprint 10 fold and create a second Wiltshire-based technology campus as well as the opening of a Singapore Technology Centre to further expand our global R&D work.

Can innovation be taught?

Having a problem-solving mindset to begin with is important in Dyson. The process of problem-solving can be further honed through hands-on experience developing Dyson products.

Dyson now employs 3,500 engineers and scientists around the world and we are looking to double our engineering team by 2020. Dyson believes in young minds. Through the work of the James Dyson Foundation, Dyson works with universities and schools to encourage a career in engineering and an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Founded in 2002, the charity supports design, technology and engineering educational work in the UK and internationally through Foundations in America and Japan. To date, the James Dyson Foundation has donated £55m to charitable causes, including £12m to Imperial College London to create the Dyson School of Design Engineering. The Foundation also runs the annual James Dyson Award competition in 22 countries. The international design award celebrates university student invention to inspire the next generation of design engineers.

Having been at Dyson for the past 5 years, what’s the single biggest change you’ve seen?

Dyson’s transformation from a predominantly hardware to a global technology company.

Earlier this year, Dyson announced plans to recruit 110 software engineers across the globe. The company is on a quest to find the brightest software engineering minds to fuel its technology pipeline launching 100 new products over the next four years.

Whether it is investing in the UK to increase our campus by 10x, the opening of a Singapore Technology Centre or setting up of an Innovation Lab in Shanghai, Dyson is looking to grow its global engineering team and create intelligent machines for the future home.

How should people look to get senior buy in from senior management for a new idea?

At Dyson we encourage collaboration and an exchange of ideas.

Teams across disciplines and hierarchies are expected to work together in the R&D process and be prepared to defend their ideas with evidence and facts. The Dyson approach of design, build and test as well as an obsession with testing means that a new idea will always be heard if supported by a strong argument and facts.

What can our audience expect to hear from you in Singapore?

Dyson’s story started in 1993 when James Dyson, founder and chief engineer, launched its first product, the DC01 vacuum cleaner – 5,127 prototypes later. Today, Dyson employs 3,500 engineers and scientists around the world. Just four years ago, 90% of Dyson’s technology was hardware-based; today Dyson is looking to become a world leader in areas such as connectivity, motors, sensors, electronics, robotics, navigation, software and purification.

Find out how Dyson engineers better technology to solve the problems others ignore.

You can catch Jim's presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Singapore on July 4 & 5.

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