Jof is Head of Infrastructure Solutions at Immense. He is passionate about sustainability and making smart cities work for the citizen, as well as sailing in his spare time!
Tell us a bit about what you do at Immense?
I’m the Head of Infrastructure Solutions and part of the growing commercial team. I joined in November 2018 alongside our new Chief Commercial Officer, Shaleen Srivastava, who moved from PTV Group. I am a chartered civil engineer, with experience working with smart infrastructure systems, smart city initiatives, civil infrastructure and in the energy sector (4 years with BP). Luke (our Head of Commercial Development) and I complement each other well to support clients from the fleet market, smart city and infrastructure initiatives, as well as emerging opportunities in future mobility.
How did you find out about Immense and become involved in the company?
My undergraduate degree was at Imperial College London, and Robin North (Immense CEO) was my professor about 8 or 9 years ago! Robin taught me modules on transport safety and the environment and was also supervisor for my final year project looking at portable emissions monitoring for vehicles. We have stayed connected due to many mutual areas of interest, so when the opportunity presented, I leapt at the chance to work with Immense.
What is the best part about working at Immense?
I would definitely say the team. You can see from all other ‘meet the team’ interviews that we have a fantastic group of people and it makes it so much easier to get things done! I have worked in much larger organisations previously and for me it’s really refreshing to be able to get something sorted in a matter of minutes or within a day.
What would you say is the most challenging part of the job?
The most challenging part is also the most rewarding. We are a young dynamic company and as part of that schedules change a lot during the day. In terms of locations, in my first couple of weeks I attended the Highways UK conference in Birmingham, the Smart Cities Expo in Barcelona and the local transport summit in Letchworth Garden City. It’s a lot of travelling around different cities and juggling different events and changing priorities! But its good fun!
You recently completed a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, what was that like?
I decided to go back to university after four years of working, it was a bit of a shock not earning money anymore but fantastic to live in Cambridge for a year!
The master’s I completed was called ‘Engineering for Sustainable Development’. I chose the course because it was broad and allowed me to explore a few specific areas that interested me. One of those was smart infrastructure systems, which included smart transportation, smart energy and the impact that they have on the sustainability of cities. It was a fantastic year, with some inspirational teaching and a great cohort of students from around the world. It was also good opportunity to take a break from my working life and really focus on what I believe to be important from a professional and personal point of view. Immense fits well for me in terms of my objectives, delivering city-scale simulations which can be used to improve the lives of citizens and the sustainability of cities, helping to reduce emissions and congestion and more generally allowing people and goods to flow around in a more sustainable way.
You come from a Civil Engineering background, what advice would you give to those looking to get into Engineering?
More out of luck, there were a couple of things I ended up doing right! One was certainly securing lots of internships. I was very fortunate during my time at Imperial to get an internship with Carillion and an internship and scholarship with Buro Happold; a very interesting and creative engineering firm in London. I also got the opportunity to spend a few months working in Oman for Parsons through the British Council’s IAESTE scheme which was a really good door-opener in terms of the opportunities to work abroad as an engineer. I would say just get as much real-life experience as you can to supplement your studies, engineering is a really rewarding career.
What’s been your biggest career achievement so far?
There are two recent ones, number one, completing my chartership with the Institute of Civil Engineers. That took a lot of work and support from my colleagues at BP to complete in under four years. As well as finishing my recent master’s and dissertation! My dissertation on ‘Smart Infrastructure and its Impact on Urban Resilience’ was a great achievement with over 25 interviews with experts from the UK, Canada and New Zealand. The guidance and enthusiasm I received from my supervisor Jennifer Schooling from the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction was fantastic too.
What did you want to do when you were younger?
I have a lot of memories playing with Lego as a child; which I think is quite common for an engineer. I would (rather unfairly in retrospect) get my brother and sister to sort out the different bricks into piles whilst I created some plans for what we would build!
What do you think the future of mobility looks like?
I agree with the view of many that it’s important to consider a range of different future scenarios, rather than on a singular ‘future of mobility’. I think that the rise in connected and autonomous vehicles will be important in our lifetimes, with a rapid uptake in electrification in the short-term. I think it’s going to be a very interesting period in history, particularly in terms of the role of cities. Cities will need to become involved in new governance issues, cope with rapid digitalisation and CAVs and successfully navigate multiple scenarios to really provide value for citizens.
I think we will get lots of larger companies investing alongside cities and infrastructure companies (we are seeing this already), to make these changes become a reality and an increasing shift to focus on the benefit to citizens. The latter point is something I’ve noticed featuring more prominently with recent smart city movements.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry?
Hype. I think we need to focus when we talk about smart city agendas, green transport, sustainability… all of these areas. We need to think carefully about what we can and must deliver. That’s something which really excites me about Immense and what we are doing with our simulation platform, because the immediate added value to cities and citizens is clear. Having that end goal in mind and not using technology for technology’s sake, rather looking at what we can deliver for citizens is the challenge.
When you’re not working what are your hobbies and interests?
My favourite hobby is sailing. I got my yacht skipper license last year which was a great achievement. I enjoy sailing because as much as I like the hustle and bustle of cities, I really appreciate being outside in nature. I really enjoy skiing for the same reason!
If you were stuck on desert island and could take three things with you what would they be?
Can I bring company? I would want to bring someone! Also, I would bring games, some puzzles to keep my mind occupied and maybe something practical to get off the island… or maybe an e-scooter, if I could find a way to charge it!
Would an e-scooter work on the sand?
Ok maybe an e-jet ski!
You can find out more about Immense and our other team members here.