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Jo Baker Technology Innovation Consultant AstraZeneca

Digital Skills Partnership 01/06/2021

Jo Baker Technology Innovation Consultant AstraZeneca

Jo is a Tech Innovation Consultant Lead for AstraZeneca. Working on interesting and emerging technologies to find innovative solutions for business problems.  

He manages a small team of apprentices, graduates and emerging talent from the UK and Mexico.

The team work on varied technologies, from computer vision and 3D printing to Holographic projection and augmented reality.

What is the thing you are most proud of in your career so far?

I recently ran a competition for staff in our Guadalajara office in Mexico to form a new team of innovation technologists. They would work twenty percent of their time with me, offering them the opportunity to get wider exposure to the business, technologies and to techniques that would help them progress in their career. The feeling of acknowledgement, acceptance and enthusiasm amongst the group was a very proud moment for me.

Most exciting or unusual thing that’s happened in your role?

As a requirement for a senior leaders’ meeting a few years back, I created a 3D printed Back projection screen that allowed us to project a member of staff from one location to another as a hologram.

The biggest changes you have seen?

I am lucky to work in an organisation that appears to have moved beyond diversity and is now focused on providing inclusive opportunities for its staff.

How do you approach a challenge?

Try to understand the reasons behind the challenge and accept that what people want and what people need may be different. Also, that you can only want what you know, so an alternative option that provides better outcomes may be just as good if not a better solution. There is a great quote wrongly attributed to Henry Ford, who is supposed to have said “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

Who is your inspiration?

Anyone who strives for something and achieves their goal. There is something very inspirational about people who follow their heart and their dreams and don’t give up.

What are the most important qualities you look for in the people you work with?

Kindness and empathy. Diverse opinions are important to a high functioning team, but knowing how to share these respectfully and accept others opinions, even if they are different to your own is a very important quality.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about careers?

There are some people that know exactly what they want to do, from the moment they’re a kid, to the day they retire. Those people are rare. Be flexible in your approach to careers, see every step as a learning experience. Never turn down an opportunity because you’re worried that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be behind others, over time, everything equals out.

What’s the biggest opportunity ahead for young people?

The technology world is changing rapidly. There will by careers in the near future that aren’t even thought of today. However fundamentally, the ability to think of technology in an innovative way makes you flexible enough to move with the times and keep yourself current. The biggest opportunity you can take is to develop a mindset of curiosity and constant improvement.