In this series, we aim to feature a particular individual ITS (UK) Member who will talk through what they do for their company and detail their daily work schedule, whilst also offering some advice and reflection on their career thus far. Read on to hear more from Sebastian Baucutt of Navtech Radar. Discover how he got started within his company, what motivates and challenges him and finally, what advice he offers to those looking to start a career in the industry.
Sebastian Baucutt, Navtech Radar
Tell us about yourself, your background and how you got started in the industry? What brought you to Highways England and led you to make this career choice?
I started at Navtech having finished two years with our parent company, Halma plc. Having finished my bachelors and masters at the University of Cambridge, studying Natural Sciences and then Earth Sciences, I was looking for a company that actively was trying to drive environmental/societal change. Halma fit the bill well, being a FTSE100 group of life-saving companies who are all driven by one or more of ‘safer, cleaner and healthier’.
After 2 years with 4 of our companies, I was looking for the innovative and fastest growing companies within the group, having studied start-up culture and methodology a lot. Navtech was a natural fit, with a huge amount of opportunity to make the most of a technology and data set that is hugely rich in information, if we can just harness it correctly.
What is your current role?
I’m currently product manager for our Highways offerings, including ClearWay, our highway specific software. This means taking the needs of our customers and translating it into technical requirements and conversely communicating what we’re doing development-wise both directly with customers and with our marketing team. We have a very large R&D team for the size of the company, so keeping on track with what we’re delivering and making sure it’s helping our current and future customers is important.
Take us through a typical day and what that involves. What projects are you working on and what are your current priorities?
My day can vary hugely, but a typical day might look like:
Online at 8 to check emails, prep for the day, understand anything that may have changed the evening before. A management meeting at 8:30, to see what each department as their weekly priorities and to share successes/help needed, which is really valuable for me to hear about new projects that have come in.
Currently we’re working on our understanding of off-board sensors for connected autonomous vehicles, so I’ve got regular check ins with our research partners, including Imperial College London and the Smart Mobility Living Lab. By hearing more about how other people are approaching these challenges we can see how we fit into a wider ecosystem. These are all virtual currently, but I’m looking forward to getting to the research sites in person too soon.
The final strands of the day might be along the lines prepping forecasts for a new product idea, to see whether we should be investing time and money into it. Alternatively, and sometimes simultaneously, I’ll be prepping to present our product roadmap to customers or at events, which is partially to drive interest, but mainly to get as much feedback as possible.
What do you most enjoy about your role and what do you find the most challenging?
I love being able to impact all areas of our business, effectively being able to guide strategy for my small part of the company, but that comes with the challenges of trying to keep track of and influence departments that must think about more than just my product line.
Is there anything specific that motivates you through the day?
As a company we’re growing fast in an area that’s seeing big change. If we think about CAVs, electric vehicles, all lane running for example, each has come with it’s own set of challenges for infrastructure, and in many areas the way we meet those challenges is only just being defined means a huge amount of opportunity to be right at the cutting edge.
From a personal point of view, there’s huge impact we can have on infrastructure for multimodal transport in urban environments, such as using our technology to detect queuing cyclists and helping with traffic control. It’s well known that good infrastructure for walking and cycling can make a big impact on the uptake of active travel in cities, and I hope we can be part of that.
What advice would you give someone who is considering seeking a career in this role and within this industry?
This is tricky to answer, I’m still only early on in my career – but I’ve found that saying yes to opportunities has been hugely valuable. This is especially true when looking at innovative ideas, where listening and understanding the problem is key, rather than jumping to conclusions. Further to that, the most active source of information is your customers, so involving them in feedback processes early on is the best way to stay on track.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out your career?
How many good ideas don’t come from a moment of inspiration but from the processes that have been put in place to foster innovation. Using these and trusting the process is a sure-fire way to create something that really is valuable both to the company and to your customers.
If you would like to be featured in a future edition of “Day in the Life of…” then please contact Rukshan and he will talk you through the process.