Guido Jouret (PhD Computing, 1991) pursued a career in industry following his research career at Imperial. Obtaining a management position at an IT department of a pharmaceutical company in France, Guido then moved to Cisco systems shortly after and in 2014 joined a start-up in the renewable energy space (wind energy). He is now Chief Digital Officer at ABB, a Swedish-Swiss industrial company that is involved in the electrification of all forms of transportation, robotics, and other infrastructure of our modern economy.
Tell us about your time at Imperial
"It was initially tough adjusting from a highly prescriptive program as an undergraduate where you're told exactly what courses to take to the unbridled freedom of a PhD student where you had to be your own taskmaster. A few highlights were the interactions with various professors, starting with my advisor, Prof. Darlington. Others included Prof. Kelly and Fields, who were extremely helpful and provided good advice. I worked as a teaching assistant which provided for a helpful regular structure to the week and had also exposed me to the undergraduate population at Imperial. I assisted in courses in networking and functional programming. The undergraduates were brilliant--highly motivated, very intelligent, and from all over the world. It was all I could do to stay ahead of them week after week! Another key highlight was the "tea break" every day where faculty and graduate students could mingle. We inevitably shared information about our respective fields of study so I felt like I was doing 2-3 PhDs and learned a tremendous amount about Artificial Intelligence (for example), which turns out be quite useful in today's world."
Why did you choose to study at Imperial?
"Imperial had the best reputation for science & engineering in the UK and in Europe. I was also accepted at other universities (Edinburgh, Southampton, King's etc.) but I knew Imperial was where I wanted to go. Imperial also had a Master’sDegree to PhD program so you could initially enrol to get a Master's degree and continue on to a PhD if you wanted to (which is what I did)."
Can you tell us what you’ve done since Graduation?
"Unlike many of my peers, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in industry. I was put in a management position straight out of Imperial, running an IT department of a pharmaceutical company in France. I then got a job in IT at Cisco systems (at the time a small networking company). I never thought I'd stay very long, but 20 years later and two relocations later (first to Singapore, then to California) I found myself still there. The company had grown tremendously (40x the size vs. when I joined) and I had moved from IT to pre-sales, and then to R&D. I had started to find "my groove" - which I discovered only quite recently: I really enjoy creating "internal startups" inside larger companies. There's even a name for people like us: intrapreneurs. We help to form teams that create new businesses inside of mature ones. I ended up running Cisco's Internet of Things business, which required skills in technology as well as business. I became increasingly concerned and interested in the challenges posed by climate change and other industrial developments of our modern lives. So, in 2014 I joined a start-up in the renewable energy space (wind energy). Thereafter I went and joined Nokia, to help them build up a digital health business to help empower people to take charge of their personal wellness. In 2016 I became Chief Digital Officer at ABB, a Swedish-Swiss industrial company that is involved in the electrification of all forms of transportation, robotics, and other infrastructure of our modern economy."
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
"At Imperial, I learned to be self-disciplined: to learn how to learn, how to present and debate ideas, and how to leverage a community of bright individuals who are among the best in their fields. I also think that my teaching assistant job prepared me well for explaining technology to others. This is something I still rely on every day as I present to customers, partners, and our fellow employees."
Do you have any advice for current Imperial students?
"Take full advantage of the global talent pool that Imperial attracts. The world's best & brightest have chosen to come here, and they will be the leaders in their chosen fields in the future. The Imperial alumni network is large and far-reaching. We face some great challenges in the future, as we need to learn how to feed a planet of 9 billion people, provide for twice as much energy as we consume today, and enable clean drinking water for all. We need scientists and engineers to do this. Imperial provides a great launchpad to your future."