Get to know Propeller’s world-class team in our new, ongoing employee spotlight series. Today, we talk to Ben Drew, who serves as a field success engineer on the customer success team. He’s based out of our Sydney, Australia, office.
What do you do at Propeller?
I’m part of Propeller’s customer success team in Australia. I work with a lot of customers on site, helping them out developing solutions if they’re new to the drone surveying industry, and introducing them to drone workflows and how to use the Propeller Platform.
Basically, the usual customer success stuff—solving problems and making sure our clients are achieving their goals. I cover all of Australia, parts of Europe, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.
What’s your career background?
While still attending university, I worked as a station hand throughout the summer harvest seasons. Home was on the farm, and my time there has certainly instilled the need to take the initiative to be successful.
After that, I went into custom drones. The company I was at developed custom drone packages, working with various mutlispectral, thermal, and hyperspectral sensors—all sorts of bespoke systems for those that required more than you could buy off the shelf. Back in the day, I started with building them at uni, then repairing commercial systems, before moving into research and development, onto selling them after that, then switched back into managing teams on the technical side. Then I came to Propeller . . . and couldn’t be happier!
Where did you grow up?
On a farm, between Albury and Corowa on the New South Wales and Victoria state border in Australia.
Before working at Propeller, what’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve held?
The most interesting one, if you could count a thesis as a job, would be working on the development of an unmanned surface vessel for bathymetry. That’s like a robotic boat that is surveying the sea or river floor, just like you’d do when sending up a drone to survey the land from the sky.
What’s your favorite Propeller memory?
I don’t think it’s one experience. It’s every time I come into the office. People here are doing great things. Every time I come in, I learn something new. For me, it’s an ongoing experience where I don’t feel like anything’s stagnant; I don’t feel at any stage that there’s nothing to learn. There’s always someone teaching something new. That’s what brings me the most ongoing joy.
But if we’re talking about a singular moment, it would be meeting everyone on our 2018 retreat to Thailand. I was new to the team then, and, you know, you hear everyone’s name once or twice, but to be able to put a face to each, to actually engage and socialize with them, was a great experience.
Any talents, secret superpowers, or fun facts about yourself to share?
I have a considerable collection of tiny European glasses—like a boot for every German city I’ve been to, but all downscale. Every country has its own type of miniature glass. I try to collect one for each region my wife and I have traveled to.
If you could be any piece of technology, what would you be and why?
Not sure if this is supposed to be existing or future technology, but I’m going to pick something in the future. I’d go for something with synthetic intelligence, something that is not so constrained by human limitations, that’s definitely something I’d be interested in. Sticking to current times, then maybe a jet, like an F-35 or something similar—something that’s a bit secretive, a touch unstable, and flies.
Given the chance to invite any person living or dead to dinner, who would you pick and why?
Carl Sagan. It’s a fairly straightforward reason—he’s someone who was exceedingly influential in his own sphere, but he’s also someone was also broached that sphere and helped spread some wonder to the rest of the world. His work continues to influence generation after generation of minds; he’d be an amazing person to speak to and learn from.
Do you have an office nickname? If so, what is it and how did you get it?
Yes, but nothing crazy. Just Benny or Drewy—typical Aussie nicknaming techniques.
If you could do any job on a worksite for just one day, which would you choose?
I’d like to be in the shoes of an exploratory geologist, probably just for that day though. Investigating new, untouched regions, mix in some research and surveying. I’d love to have their knowledge of the natural world.