QinetiQ, McLaren Racing, Ferrari F1 Team, Catherall Consulting, Canopy Simulations
Co-Founder, Canopy Simulations
I love sailing, skiing, and engineering!
I live in South London and work from home (at a desk that I built myself). I race a two-person sailing dinghy with my wife on Sundays and go skiing as much as possible in the winter. I have a verbatim memory for film quotes and lines from Family Guy. I once did an Ironman triathlon but I won’t do another one, ever.
I simulate racing cars, F1 cars mainly, but recently Formula E cars too!
Myself and two other ex-McLaren Racing colleagues have set up a company (Canopy Simulations) which provides simulation tools to motorsport teams. People pay us to be able to log-in to our website, run hundreds or thousands of simulations of their racing car and then view the results in our shiny viewers. The reason we can do so many simulations in such a short time is that we use cloud computing, 100s of computers running different simulations all at the same time.
The simulations we run will tell you how fast your car will be, how much fuel it will use, what the best suspension settings are, what the best wings and things to bolt onto it are; all sorts of useful stuff. Racing teams use our simulations to decide how to design their car and then to decide how to set it up for each particular circuit.
My Typical Day: Wake up, walk wife to station, eat breakfast, write code, draw graphs, email people, write code, draw graphs, email people, write code, . . .
I work from home so my commute is just a 20min walk to escort my wife to the station and walk back to have my breakfast. Then I get down to work; this varies from day to day, often it’s mainly writing code, the result of which is invariably a graph of some sort. I’m always interrupted by emails from clients, or potential clients, or lawyers or some such group of people intent on disrupting my workflow. Although I complain about this it’s actually great to be doing all aspects of this business, from writing the code to pitching to clients and filling in VAT returns (ok, I don’t enjoy the VAT returns).
What I'd do with the money
I’d divide it up and offer it as a series of prizes for the school student who draws the best graph!
I think that school makes you see graphs as a boring necessity, whereas through my work I’ve found them to be fascinating windows into the behaviour of things and the stories that graphs can tell us about data and the world around us are endless. Furthermore, it’s essential that young people understand how to graphically interpret data because there’s more and more of it around and without a discerning public we’re doomed to be subject to the misguidance of politicians and nefarious media moguls.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Often quite clever.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Build Canopy Simulations.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Bloody Mary Steak
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Spend 6 months living in a ski resort in Canada.
Tell us a joke.
Two cannibals are eating a clown; one turns to the other and says, “Does this taste funny to you?”