Episode 4

The
Spark
 


Episode 4 - 22 March 2018

The face of innovation

As an engineer in our Male Grooming division, it’s Ana Ruiz Molina’s job to immerse herself in the world of male appearance. She offers a unique blend of engineering know-how and psychology to show how important it is to understand people’s needs, and differences to develop products that will make lives better.

Ana Molina treats the products she works on as tools that can solve deep human needs. Working in Male Grooming as a Function Development Engineer, she “translates consumer needs or consumer problems into new ideas, and into new products.”

To do this, she has to look at two things: the engineering of the product, and the ‘engineering’ of the very people it’s intended for.

“For this, you need to be open-minded and open to learning and experiencing different cultures,” she says.

Psychology differs from the other sciences as it’s almost always an applied science. This is because the thing it studies is ourselves, and it would be foolish not to learn from what it teaches us. In this way, psychology could be viewed as a form of engineering.

“Don’t you think you can really solve that problem much better if you understand the problem?"

“An engineer is a person who will take a problem and solve it, but don’t you think you can really solve that problem much better if you understand the problem?” asks Ana. And if by problem we mean a consumer challenge, “Wouldn’t it be great if you can understand more of the psychology?”

A role with global reach

 

Ana has learned this first hand in her career. Philips has done a lot of research, she explains; listening to people. When she landed in China for some field research, as a people-centric engineer, she had to suspend many previously-held notions.
 

“I am Spanish – I didn’t have any clue about how Chinese appreciate and perceive skincare,” says Ana.
 

She was there to gather insights on Chinese men’s attitudes towards grooming, and what she’d expected was that everything would be hidden in cupboards and referred to by a dismissive pseudonym. What Ana found, instead, were skincare products and even devices displayed prominently in some living rooms, proudly, as a conversation piece.

The world of male grooming: "Technology is the means to an end,” says Ana of her unique approach to engineering through understanding consumers' needs, and differences to develop products that will make lives better.

Skincare for some Chinese guys, she says, “is not only a nice to have in their whole morning routine, it’s something that is really important to them.”
 

In China, she goes on to say, “your skin and appearance is your passport to the world.”
 

One might assume this was because some groups in Chinese culture are more concerned with visual appearance; but it may be that their culture is simply more aware of its influence, and the impact that appearances have on one’s life; private and professional.
 

This fascinated Ana. She’d never known that some men fuss over their faces so much before. But she was moved by their desire for acceptance, and their disinterest in hiding their routine. After all, if you have to hide the method you used to gain acceptance, what kind of acceptance is that?
 

It's easy to scoff at beauty; especially if you possess it. And Ana would love to see a world that values something deeper above all else. But right now she’s focusing on the inner need for some of us to look our best, helping to get innovations to market. Innovations that might just change the face of someone’s future.

A career out of the ordinary
 

Yet a career innovating at Philips is not just about the future of science. It’s about how science can be applied. It’s a place where the inventive are given all the tools they need to invent, and the opportunity to tap into and collaborate with the people that those inventions can make an impact on.
 

Technology is often positioned as the ‘enemy’ by the media, but Ana sees this in much simpler terms: “You can always have two ways of using the same kind of technology,” says Ana.
 

“That’s why, for me, technology is not the problem. I think technology is the means to an end, and you can choose that end to be good or bad.”

It’s not only that Ana wants to user her career to influence which innovations shape the world, but she wants to help guide what those innovations ultimately do to benefit others. It’s this junction of her ingenuity and her focus on impact that make Ana’s process part and parcel of Philips’ mission.

Grooming aside, what are Ana’s tops tips for career success?

  • Don’t wait for the opportunity; make it yourself!

  • Never let your curiosity die

  • Don’t forget that you’re part of a team

  • Be flexible in your attitude

  • Learn emotional intelligence

Listen to the podcast to hear Ana’s story, including a factory tour, how to be creative and a different perspective on new technologies in our lives.

If you’re interested in a career at a truly international company, come and see what Philips has to offer.

A dynamic career that no one could have planned.
Even you.