Jake Dyson speaks to Perspective about his career path, how the engineering industry has changed and what his father means to him
The eldest son of renowned industrial designer and inventor Sir James Dyson, Jake Dyson was deeply — and happily — influenced as a child by his father's passion. Spending most holidays in the garage, father and son would tinker around building vacuum cleaner prototypes, an experience which proved to be both profound and inspirational.
"I think my dad passed his engineering genes to me," Dyson recalls, smiling. "I am really enjoying my life as an engineer. It's very interesting."
Sir James Dyson is, of course, the founder of Dyson, a technology company based in the UK. The younger Dyson set up his own company, Jake Dyson Light, in 2004 after graduating from Central Saint Martins in industrial design; here, he focused on inventing, manufacturing and selling LED lighting, and worked as a designer in the retail sector.
Relishing the challenge of launching and running his own company successfully, Jake also had a point to prove to himself: that he could and would succeed by his own merit, without the help of his father's group. After nine years of establishing his reputation, he felt the time was right, making the switch to join the board of Dyson as a non-executive director.
"We want to keep Dyson a family business," he explains. "It's another opportunity and another challenge."
That much is certainly true, given the significant differences between his company and the family business — such as scale. Previously, Jake had to be closely involved in the marketing and advertising sides of his business, which inevitably distracted him from his primary passions for inventing and engineering research.
Since joining the Dyson board in 2013, however, he's continuing to develop lighting products while playing a broader role in the strategy of the company's future technology development. He and his team also brought two new product families into the Dyson business — the CSYS task lights and Cu-Beam suspended lights.
"Dyson has more than 2,000 engineers and they are all geniuses. I only have to inspire them, and they have freedom to create what they want," Jake says.
He took a risk in setting out to establish his own business at the beginning of his career, but says that the Dyson company, while it offers huge opportunities, also brings higher risks. The readiness to accept such level of risk is an indispensable quality any upcoming engineer should have, he believes.
This is an excerpt from the "Heir to greatness” article from the March 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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