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Chuck

Chuck Alexander

Sr. Director, Product Management

What led you to product management?

“Product management is about making connections between customers’ needs and a company’s ability — the skills and resources of the people in the company and its strategy — to meet those needs. Early in my career, I worked with physicists, software engineers, and customers to solve problems in aerodynamics. Like agriculture, this is a field that has always pushed the limits of our ability to measure what is happening in the real world and to simulate that real-world with software. This meant wearing a lot of hats: to customers, my job was to understand their problems and work with R&D to address them; to R&D I was a proxy customer, who could discuss possible solutions far more quickly and efficiently than they could with customers. I enjoyed that role, and validating and deploying the products our R&D teams created.”

What is your favorite thing about being in this role?

“Seeing the effects of people using my company’s products. Successful products change how people live, work, and play. At the end of my 22-year tenure at my prior company, I could look at cars, trucks, and even agricultural machinery and see features that had been designed with the help of products we had designed and deployed. And I knew that far more improvements had been made that I knew nothing about. It’s gratifying to see those products being adopted and changing how people work.”

What is one thing that would surprise people about your field of work in agriculture? 

“My background has never been explicitly about agriculture but has often touched on it. While studying aerospace engineering in college I worked for several years on research recreating and studying grain elevator explosions in a laboratory environment, and I co-authored several papers describing our work. In my work prior to CIBO, our software was used by ag equipment makers to improve their combines, tractors, and other ag equipment.”

What kinds of things do you think we should be doing to encourage more people to pursue a career in science?

“Make science fun, interesting, and engaging in elementary and middle schools. Help scientifically-minded kids discover their talents and passions.”

What brought you to CIBO?

“When my prior company was acquired by a much larger one, I began looking for new opportunities that married the same qualities of unique technology, diverse and engaging staff, and a compelling offering that could significantly improve some part of people’s lives. Through my network I found out about CIBO and enjoyed learning about its people and technology. I joined in November of 2018 and it’s been a wild ride!”

What are your primary responsibilities at CIBO? 

I find, test, and acquire data sources for our products and teams. CIBO has diverse and talented teams of modelers, data scientists, and developers. Often those teams need data for their work: data to inform crop models they are developing; data to understand the characteristics of a piece of land (soil, weather, etc.); how land is divided into fields and parcels; etc. Much of the time, sources for that data are well-known to the teams or straightforward to acquire, and the teams simply get them. In other cases, more time and effort are needed, or commercial contracts are needed to acquire data that is not publicly available. I help acquire that data, then provide support to the teams ingesting it.”

What do you find the most rewarding about your work here?

“Learning every day about our customers and technology. CIBO is working on some challenging problems and developing key pieces of technology to address them. It’s a dynamic environment where we are constantly learning new things and adapting to what we learn.”

 

About Chuck Alexander

Chuck Alexander is a Sr. Director of Product Management at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. Prior to CIBO, he worked for Exa Corporation and Airflow Sciences Corporation. He holds a B.S.E. and M.S.E in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and a S.M. in Engineering & Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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