Barry Po

Earning a PhD has made me comfortable with tackling the unknown and has helped me find creative ways to engage others along for the journey. Coming from a computer science background lets me speak to a technical crowd, and the opportunities I had in grad school set me up to communicate challenging ideas and concepts with people from all walks of life.
 
NGRAIN
Senior Director, Product & Business Development
Vancouver, Canada
A Representational Basis for Human-Computer Interaction
Dr. Kellogg Booth
2005
 

Where and what is your current position?

I'm head of product marketing and corporate development at NGRAIN, an industrial augmented reality/virtual reality business.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

I don't think I could say that I knew my career would develop the way it has. As a personal journey to date, it's been fulfilling in so many ways.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

The experience I gained from being in graduate school at UBC has positioned me nicely to build bridges between different communities, in particular those in technology, design, and business. Earning a PhD has made me comfortable with tackling the unknown and has helped me find creative ways to engage others along for the journey. Coming from a computer science background lets me speak to a technical crowd, and the opportunities I had in grad school to link my research to the "bigger picture" has set me up to communicate challenging ideas and concepts with people from all walks of life.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

Genuine intellectual curiosity – I came out of my undergraduate experience feeling like I had just scratched the surface, and I was (and still am!) eager to learn even more.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

Looking back at it now, I think it was the opportunity to indulge in my curiosity and have a chance to explore so many different ideas through research, especially in collaboration with so many other talented grad students and faculty during my time at UBC.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

Looking back, I think having dedication and persistence were important. Taking every outcome, whether positive or not, as an opportunity to learn and improve was also valuable – I can recall it being easy to get discouraged when an experiment didn't end up with any meaningful results, for example, but it's always important not to lose sight of the fact that even failed experiments are part of the process to greater things.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Take the time to be clear about why you're in grad school and what you want to get out of the experience – the skills you learn in grad school can have a tremendous influence on the impact you have in the world around you. Enjoy every moment of it!

Did you have any breaks in your education?

No breaks, planned or otherwise!

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

Facing challenges is a part of life, and I think if there is one thing I've learned it's that a little bit of patience and empathy go a long way. When you're full of ideas, it can be easy to fall into the trap of talking too much and not listening enough. Taking the time to really listen and understand the points of view of others is certainly something I've learned.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I think it's incredibly exciting to be part of a business positioned in a fast-paced market where innovation isn't just a word but a way of life!