Space travel algorithms, urban farming, and keeping marketing simple – Unstuck in August!
August may be a month of R&R for many, but the Unstuck podcast kept rolling! We had four guests from very different backgrounds telling stories of space and planets, urban farming, and falling into marketing. While all of our guests are finding great success in their field, the paths they took were very different. We’ve never had such an eclectic mix of themes and topics discussed in one month. There’s sure to be something for every listener!
Space Models with Wes Chaar
EP24 – Wes Chaar (Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Fyllo)
At one point in his life, Wes Chaar was probably more likely to end up in space than in marketing. He first gained a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. Then followed a Master’s in Computer Science and he completed the set with a PHD in aerospace engineering. In different circumstances it would be fitting to say he was reaching for the stars, but in truth he was focused on planets. Wes became a solutions expert on interplanetary navigation by creating algorithms for optimising space travel. Long before AI was a buzzword, he built algorithms that could learn from other algorithms. These programmes subsequently created new and improved algorithms!
In 1996, tech company Sabre created a research group to find better ways to practice revenue management. Wes suggested they use aerospace algorithms to drive innovation and Sabre were intrigued. They offered him a job the next day and Wes began a hugely successful career in business analytics.
In addition to Sabre, Wes held senior analytics roles at Delta Airlines and Turner Time Warner (now merged within Warner Bros). At TTW, he created AI powered AdTech that sometimes needed to manage 8,000 different campaigns at once. Huge cost savings, forecasting improvements, and inventory management innovation were achieved under Wes’ guidance. He’s now the Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Fyllo and we recommend tuning in to his episode below if you have an interest in data, analytics, or space travel!
Upwardly Mobile Farming with The Scala Sisters
EP25 – Mary Kathryn and Jacqueline Scala (Co-Founders at Freight to Plate)
Mary and Jacqueline Scala re sisters putting down roots in a different kind of ‘homestead’. During the early days of the pandemic, Mary began researching new ideas for work when she was put on furlough along with the majority of the hospitality industry. At the same time, her sister Jacqueline was sitting on the board of a non-profit organisation and tasked with evaluating a new form of farming. They both inadvertently stumbled upon freight farms and were hooked instantly.
They began educating themselves on freight farming and made plans to build their own container farm sitting on Chicago suburban concrete in Fulton Market. Their new 320 square foot farm would be called ‘homestead’. Mary and Jacqueline have quickly become freight farming fanatics and set up their own company called Freight To Plate. They offer advice and practical support for land procurement, farm activation, farm operations, and farm management. In their own words, their mission is to ‘unlock hyperlocal food production for all communities’. Mary and Jacqueline’s long-term goal is to set up 100 freight farms across the United States. They are immensely passionate and energised by this modern and sustainable urban farming system and if you listen to their episode below you will understand why!
Back to Basics
EP26 – Mayur Gupta (Chief Marketing Officer at Kraken Digital Exchange)
Unsure what he wanted to do after finishing school, Mayur Gupta completed a degree in Computer Science on the recommendation of his mother. Job prospects for computer scientists were strong and it was considered a good bet for a career. Mayur rarely took the safe option though and his computer science degree created an opportunity for a dramatic career pivot several years later. While working in technical roles at SapientNitro he developed his reputation and earned a chance to lead an AdTech product team. Without ever planning to be one, Mayur was suddenly a marketer!
Mayur admits to needing to research Wikipedia to understand marketing job specifications. This was in addition to googling marketing tips and strategy advice. He’s come a long way since then though. Mayur fulfilled senior marketing roles at Kimberly Clark before taking up the mantle of Chief Marketing Officer at Spotify. Since then he has held the same position at Gannett (USA Today) and now Kraken crypto exchange. Listen below to hear how Mayur managed to build a career in marketing from scratch and why the principles of the disciple remain unchanged – it’s all about understanding human behaviour.
September will be another exciting month on Unstuck. We will be joined by a Salesforce exec and a creative director turned coffee maker. Clive will also catch up with two entrepreneurs that we met earlier in the series to hear how their healthy food company is developing!