A day in the life of a Manufacturing Engineer at Scythe
Scyther Spotlight: Dorian Spero
A Day in the Life of a Mobile Robotics Manager at Scythe
Drawing from his experience as a software developer, mobile robotics manager Dorian Spero has a deep understanding of how to nurture and cultivate a thriving organization. Leading our autonomy team, he takes great pleasure in creating a collaborative and forward-thinking atmosphere that allows his team to flourish.
What does a typical day at Scythe look like for you?
As mobile robotics manager, I oversee the motion, perception, localization, and system software teams here at Scythe. These engineers are directly responsible for the autonomous control of our mower and sensing the environment for intelligent behavior and safety. The people are the reason I love my job! They are an incredibly smart, positive and collaborative bunch, and I’m proud of all they are accomplishing!
Every day brings a new set of tasks and challenges, but one constant remains - the importance of collaboration and communication. My priority is to connect not just with my own team, but with teams across Scythe, ensuring that we work together seamlessly to meet our deadlines and deliverables. These meetings may involve broader strategy and planning; clarity of tasks and breakdown; monitoring progress; resource allocation; resolving issues (team-wide and personal); individual interests, motivation, career progression and feedback; hiring; and alignment to company needs. I also observe team dynamics and communication, and symbiotically try to ensure everyone is happy and stays that way. I modestly pride myself in being able to read people and situations (soft skills), which plays a big part.
Dorian with the Software Team at the most recent Scythe Software Offsite
What is an accomplishment from your time at Scythe that you're most proud of?
My accomplishments and happiness are more derived indirectly. In other words, I’m happy when those on my team are happy and fulfilled. I especially enjoy helping groom a technical leader or two and seeing their confidence and effectiveness grow.
Also, many times I enjoyed bouncing strategy against team members and directly providing them the tools to influence and execute, versus feeling stuck and potentially frustrated. And I guess I’m proud to say that there has been zero employee turnover among the software group since starting my role – a byproduct of positive team morale.
What does our mission at Scythe mean to you?
Speaking from an industry-wide perspective, it’s been difficult to monetize mobile robot technology and applications in mobile robot form. What I mean by this is that there have been many successful companies in spinoff (or partial) technologies – for example, sensors, mapping, and AI – but only a few that have found a lucrative market or sufficient ROI for a complete mobile robot solution (an unnamed vacuum cleaner robotics company being one).
To me, Scythe’s mission achieves multiple value propositions: provides an automated mower for large properties with regular needs that can be manually laborious to manage and costly time-wise, and does so in an environmentally friendly way.
We all love playing with robots for just about any purpose. Scythe provides a valuable business channel for our passion and smarts with substantial customer demand and impact.
Dorian joined one of our customers in the field to see M.52 in action
How did you end up getting into the Manager of Mobile Robotics role at Scythe?
I have been in the mobile robotics and autonomous vehicle space for over 20 years. For the majority of this time, I was a C++ software developer (among using other languages to a lesser degree) and typically had a hybrid role as team lead. I have worked on just about all aspects of the technology stack – motion, sensing, localization, decision making, etc. – and was many times involved in the customer loop, developing to meet demand. This provided me with an overarching high-level understanding and helped me to make better integrative product decisions and roadmap. And, most importantly, to execute.
My last company, in the autonomous car space, was the first where I was solely a people manager – no personal software development. From being in the limelight, for better or worse, I now took a step back and grew to enjoy planning and strategizing and, essentially, playing the long game of influence and leverage among the various business stakeholders: engineering, product, sales, customer support, offshore assets, etc. I worked in the shadows, and the team’s performance became my performance. Unfortunately, our primary customers at the time went through severe cost cutting and my division was shut down as a result. I then found Scythe.
Scythe was growing and developing an exciting robotics product and was looking for a people manager for the mobile robotics team – someone to influence the team on a positive, productive and successful path, advocate for them, take care of their individual growth and help resolve any problems. I jumped on the opportunity and have been loving it!
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Truth be told, in all the years at various companies, I haven’t received any words of wisdom worth remembering. But through my learnings, I have something to impart.
I recommend embracing the idea of “grand strategy.” What is your long-term vision and goal? Once you know this – assuming it’s at your means (reasonable) – then any daily battles / decisions / situations that don’t go your way are marginal compared to staying the course and winning the overall campaign. We tend to live in the moment and are naturally emotional and reactive beings. If a negative reaction will harm your long-term goal, stop your ego and put it into perspective. Most others will not have your forethought and are at a disadvantage.
If you could build a robot to take care of any tasks in your daily life, what would you build it to do?
Easy – I need a robot to help me cook! This is one area that I am not the most proficient in, so this robot would make up for my lack of skill and care in the kitchen. Never hurts if it could clean up afterwards too!
Offering a snapshot of life at Scythe, the Scyther Spotlight series showcases our team members and the work they do as we pursue our mission together. From software to hardware, manufacturing to customer operations, you'll get to see what our
multi-disciplinary team members are up to and how they collaborate every day.