Episode 6

The
Spark
 


Episode 6 - 4 April 2018

Problem child

How hard do you like your brain-teasers? Are you happiest when you’ve solved a problem, or when you’re getting closer but you’ve got some time to enjoy that mystery of not knowing? Jonathan Palero tells us how both the ‘nerds and geeks’ of Philips Research engage in symbiotic riddle solving.

“I’m a sucker for problems,” says Jonathan Palero, Research Scientist in Philips’ Personal Care & Wellness department. “Without a problem, what’s the point of being a scientist?”
 

Jonathan left his native Philippines for a career in the Research arm of Philips, and the many consumer problems it sets out to solve each year. In some ways, he’s danced his way through life, and he seems to be doing the same thing in his career. The reason is that he doesn’t let a step back be a setback; he sees them only as chances to review problems and come up with new solutions.

“I’m a sucker for problems. Without a problem, what’s the point of being a scientist?”

“The most interesting problem for me right now is sustainability,” he muses. And at the heart of that problem is a dilemma, he observes: “on the one hand you would want less carbon footprint; on the other hand, you want to live your life.”
 

“So for instance, I love food. I would love to eat different kinds of, say, meat. I would love Jamon Iberico, and then the carbon footprint is quite huge. So how can you make it sustainable?”

The way Jonathan puts it, it’s hard to say he’s ‘working’ in the traditional sense, when he insists upon using a different language for what he’s doing. The challenges he’s trying to solve aren’t ‘dilemmas.’

Collaborating to win

 

As he describes them, they’re “puzzles.” Questions that might drive other people crazy, he thinks of as riddles. Conundrums that the “proud nerds” and “geeks” of Philips can enjoy working on together.
 

“Nerds are smart in their basic knowledge,” Jonathan explains, “and the geeks are smart in the application of this knowledge.”

Innovating to make life better: Jonathan Palero's inventions, like ActiveEyes, bring people together, and improve their lives.
Jonathan is ending the age old war between the nerds and the geeks. He’s not afraid of what others will do with his inventions; how they’ll use, improve, or dismantle them. He invites it. The lines of demarcation were once clear: nerds work; geeks play. But Jonathan, once again, is happy to step forward and back.

Innovation that’s meaningful

 

Within a company aiming to give their consumers more and more independence, Jonathan is adding a complementary element; he’s looking at relationality.

“I am more of a nerd and I would want to work with a geek.”

“If a device allows two people to interact with each other somehow, it improves their relationship,” he says.

And it isn’t just consumers who benefit from this kind of thought process. If you consider how the above quote might apply to relationships with co-workers, you might get a sense of what it’s like working with Jonathan; scientist, inventor, nerd.
 

The environment, the economy, the ‘system,’ Jonathan says that too often, we’re told or have the sense that “this puzzle cannot be solved?”

“If it seems like it has no resolution. … I like that,” he says, with a mischievous grin.

How does Jonathan bring his unique perspective to career success? Here are his 5 tips:

  • Be critical. Innovative companies need critical thinkers: people who not only question other people but also question themselves. But being critical does not mean being tactless. To be critical in Philips means you challenge others’ ideas and actively come up with better ideas.

  • Be open to criticism. Another person’s criticism may potentially lead to better ideas, so be open to them.

  • Be an opportunist in your career. Questions, challenges and problems present innovation opportunities. Always be aware of these as these may lead to new innovation.

  • Be inspired. Philips is populated by smart people. It is just smart to be inspired by them.

  • Be an inspiration. It’s a good personal mission to be a role model and an inspiration to others.
Episode 6 video thumbnail

Listen to the podcast to hear Jonathan’s story, including devices to help puffy eyes, slicing worms with light, and how life is like a dance called the Cha Cha.

Do you like solving problems? Why not get paid to? Look into a career at Philips, where the problems you solve can become a career that changes lives for the better.

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