Getting to know Jake Scott
29th September 2021
For the second in our “Getting to Know,” series we spoke with one of our Senior Consultants Jake Scott, a past research scientist who has taught English as a foreign language in Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. Sustainability, the environment and human rights are areas which really interest him, and is exploring how technology can help support this in the world of business.
- What is the most interesting role you have had to date?
Probably my first ever project, when I started consulting. One week in and I was brought onto a cloud computing transformation project, where I needed to work with my client and a series of tech companies to understand how to migrate a large number of business applications to the cloud. It felt like I was thrown into the deep end somewhat, but I got great support from my manager, the people I worked with were exceptionally intelligent and together we formulated the plan and pipeline to get everything onto the cloud. An intense first two years, but definitely a fun one!
2. How did you get to where you are now?
It seems there may be many ways to interpret this question… but I’m going to go with: by asking questions. A whole lot of questions. In school, in university, when I started consulting, and in my current client work; it continues. If there is something I don’t understand or want to understand in more detail, I’ve never been afraid to ask. The way I see it, you either learn something new because you hadn’t thought of something or just didn’t get it, or every now and again you point out something others haven’t thought of – nothing to lose. I’m confident enough in myself to I don’t know everything, nor can I! I think it’s because of this I’ve managed to learn things quickly, and that has led to lots of interesting opportunities, both in work and outside of it!
3. What are the different types jobs that you’ve had? Anything unusual?
I’ve done small stints as a research scientist (molecular biology, virology, that sort of thing). I’ve worked as a consultant, and at one point I had a break to teach English in different countries between consulting roles (quite a long “break”- three years!) I’ve volunteered for NGOs in Tanzania and Thailand at different times. I’ve also done a variety of temp jobs at different points in my life as I prefer to be busy doing something than stuck at home.
I guess the most unusual was simultaneously the most tedious unfortunately! I worked in a lab in New York, researching an unusual parasite called a Trypanosome. My role was to translate a new piece of biotech to see if it could analyse protein expression in these parasites, and I managed to make it work! I was only there for three months, so the people I worked with then used this to do a lot more detailed research on something which causes a lot of problems for humans, which was cool. The tedious part though was keeping the things alive. It was like having several million microscopic children who needed feeding every day. “Did you have fun in the Big Apple Jake?” – not really, every day I was in the lab diluting stuff in test tubes.
4. What motivates you?
For me, the context is the important thing. I find tech interesting when it solves a real problem.
Sustainability and our intrinsic connection with the planet is something I care about, and try where I can to live better, buy better, etc. I love travelling and seeing the world, and it makes me sad to think in several generations so much of what I have enjoyed could be gone. In a work context, the fact the sustainability is beneficial for companies and long-term success too just makes it a no-brainer.
5. Advice for people starting their career?
Don’t assume working for a big company guarantees you good experience. Don’t think working at a small company means you are limiting what you can learn and achieve. When it comes down to it, you need to put yourself in a position where you have great people around you where you can continue to get better at whatever it is you want to do. Experience is what you take into your next role, not the company name. And ask lots of questions, don’t assume everyone else already knows because you’ll be surprised at how many don’t, or have made an assumption and got it wrong.
6. Are there specific qualities you look for in people that join your team?
But that can be in one of multiple ways. If you wanted a slightly more helpful answer, being good with people helps; in consulting the vast majority of what you do is talking, listening, and learning from people in different parts of organisations and connecting the dots. If you can do that, that’s a big tick. That being said, if that isn’t you but you understand/like business, tech or have other skills and interests, then there is always a place for you; you just need to find the right company.
What I like about Finyx is the fact it is inclusive, everyone is so down to earth (no corporate stereotypes here) and collaborative, as well as intelligent, so it’s the perfect combination.
7. What is the most exotic country you have been to for work?
If I lived in Thailand, can I still say Thailand? Technically I travelled there. Once.
8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Because of the pandemic, there are definitely some friends I’d like to visit whom I have not managed to see for a very long time, so central/northern Europe would be great for getting around with minimal flying. Berlin would be great for that, plus the music scene. But I think Japan would be great, I would love to spend some time in Hokkaido practising my poor Japanese and learning how to snowboard, as well as exploring the rest of the country..
9. If you could have lunch with a successful business person who would you choose? e.g Sheryl Sandberg, Jess Bezos, Bear Grills etc
Another difficult Q. I know those names but would have no idea what to talk to them about. Paul Polman would be up there for sure, the former CEO of Unilever who set in motion some great things around sustainability, hugely ambitious goals to build a truly sustainable company. But beyond their products, he also shifted the mindset of the company and shareholders from short-term, quarterly results to focusing on the longer term, and actively wanted investors who shared this philosophy. I like truly “big picture” people, as well as people who realise value and money aren’t the same thing.
10. Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the mornings, green tea in the afternoon.
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