What do you get if you take a creative and cross vast electrical and mechanical expertise with a sharp understanding of data science?
For us, the perfect salesman.
Or what we like to call our Sales Engineer.
Simon Katende has a background in both Mechatronics and Data Science which gives him a unique and all-encompassing view of making AI work at the enterprise level.
His ability to see the larger picture, as well as the finer, intricate pieces, allows him to develop a clear roadmap to digital transformation from the enterprise right through to the SMB.
We sat with Simon to find out more about his role and what drives him.
Question: Can you define your role in a nutshell? What is a sales engineer?
The perception is often that I am the technical bullshitter [Laughs].
Think about the sleazy second-hand salesman and then his right-hand man being the guy that has credibility from a technical perspective, but it is equally as sleazy. That’s me.
Jokes aside, I conceptualise solutions, then quantify and present them to the client in an understandable manner.
Question: From your Honours Degree in Mechatronics to now finishing off a Master’s in Data Science, what attracts you to the role of Sales Engineer?
A common theme that I’ve found is how prevalent the under-utilisation of data is.
I also don’t like to be defined by one thing. I like blending between different things and would consider myself as being multifaceted. Like with mechatronics, which is a blend between mechanical and electrical engineering, it’s multi-disciplinary.
I enjoy self-discovery, have a short attention span, and am very ambitious. I’d say those three things led me to journey across different industries.
Question: How do you feel your studies impact your role as a Sales Engineer?
Engineering teaches you how to solve problems from a building-blocks approach, where you’re breaking it down into its various components and identifying how the pieces fit together.
In a lot of my proposals I’ll first start with the solution. I visualise the solution first and then break it down into what it takes for us to form this beautiful picture.
Then data science gave me the contextual understanding to solve problems for this industry.
The reality is that I could have still done this without the Master’s in Data Science. It just provides credibility. A lot of the stuff they taught us in the Master’s wasn’t industry applicable. It was very theoretical, and came more from an academic perspective. For example, with the tool-sets we were using, we weren’t thinking about how we could operationalise it.
If anything, it was a great experience for understanding how to solve problems from a data perspective.
Bits of Advice
Question: What 3 bits of advice would you give to yourself 2 years ago?
To have self-compassion, patience and gratitude.
Self-compassion: Sometimes I’m a bit too hard on myself. I tend to be a bit overly competitive with myself, so I sometimes cut myself out when I shouldn’t. It’s part of the process to fail.
Gratitude: You need to also take a pause and just be grateful for what you have. So that you can really enjoy the journey and not just continuously drive and try to achieve the goals.
Patience: Don’t expect results immediately. It’s all about those incremental steps that you make every day. All the decisions you make over time. With patience, you’ll see the massive change come when you don’t focus so hard on results.
Question: What attracts you to the field of AI and digital transformation?
I like change and you are exposed to different industries and solve similar problems across them.
You see, data is quintessential across all industries. We all have the same problems. And that’s the beauty of it.
If you’re a person that likes challenges, learning about different environments, solving problems in different environments and obviously engaging organisations, I think this is probably the best place you could do it.
Question: How important is it to be adaptable in the tech space?
If you have the ability to adapt then this sector is for you. I don’t think it will ever reach a point of maturity just because of the nature of this industry.
It’s really cutting edge and they’re always driving or trying to break the boundaries of innovation so it does require that type of person that has that growth mindset has that learning ability to constantly learn.
You’re constantly questioning, learning and solving.
New Titles Are A Byproduct of A New Culture
At Teraflow, we’re flipping it all on its head.
Which means taking traditional ways of work, business practices and culture a step above and beyond expectation.
Our ability to deliver with world-class talent gives us a supernatural edge. Our practices, beliefs and vision give us unbreakable momentum. And our ability to solve inconspicuous problems in record time ensures that the client remains the hero.
Want to learn more about our culture and ways of work? Or more on AI and digital transformation?
Check out the rest of our blog!