Interview with Product Manager at SOURIAU-SUNBANK, Rich Oliver

Rich Oliver Product Manager at SOURIAU-SUNBANK

Rich has been with SOURIAU for over 20 years in various roles, including Distribution Manager, Price/Tech and Contract Review Manager, Demand Manager, Information Systems Manager, and currently Product Manager.

SOURIAU-SUNBANK, is a global leader in connection technologies with a 100-year history. The group specialises in designing, manufacturing and marketing interconnect solutions for harsh environments (aeronautics, space, defence, transport, energy, industrial equipment, healthcare devices, and lighting).

We spoke to Rich Oliver about his role with SOURIAU and areas of focus.

1. How did you get started working in this industry?

I was invited to apply for an open position in the company 20 years ago. During my tenure I’ve taken on various assignments. The president of the company asked me if I’d be interested in moving into product management, which I was, and I’ve enjoyed the position ever since as I get a chance to work with the products, the sales team and the customers.

2. What advice would you give to aspiring engineers and those wanting to work in similar roles?

Don’t be afraid to try new things – from methods, processes to changes in your career. Try to be both technically focused as well as people focused.

3. What new products and technologies is SOURIAU working with?

SOURIAU is always looking for ways to be innovative and flexible to changes in the industry. We’re open to new technologies and how we can use them in our existing products to keep our competitive advantage.

4. What is innovative about the technology they use?

In today’s world, information is everything, and the connectors we make have to be able to take advantage of that and provide connectors that are robust, work in extreme conditions and meet the technological requirements of high-speed data required today.

5. What makes your products game-changers?

Honestly, it’s the people that work here. We’re very innovative and keep our attention on changes in the market and try to capture that to provide products people will want or need.

6. Do you have an innovation lab or equivalent – what is it currently working on?

We actually opened one recently in our Paris manufacturing facilities, and we’re still in the process of setting it up, but it will have 3D printers, computers in free access, and bits and pieces of hardware for our staff to play around with.

We also have a creativity space called the Agora that takes ideas from the best of our people in different roles of the company to see how we can capitalise on some great ideas that come from those groups. A good example is our ability to make 3D models and use them in existing connectors to lower the cost and development time to get products designed and to the market.

7. What’s the most exciting or disruptive customer application you’re aware of?

Actually there have been many. The one common thread, however, is that they want us to take our existing technology to the next level. Because that’s our culture, we take on challenges that can be disruptive to the organisation, but also exciting, as we’re developing a product that is not yet on the market. Generally our customers are working on applications in environments that involve high temperatures, high-speed data, high vibration, etc.

8. What are the challenges of developing and deploying applications in those sorts of environments?

The challenges are finding the right materials that meet various properties needed in the final applications. What may have an excellent property in one area can actually have a poor property in another area, but both properties are required in the finished product. It takes the input from many people to work on a solution that can effectively meet those requirements.

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