Get to know Propeller’s world-class team in our new, ongoing employee spotlight series. Today, we talk to John Frost, our vice president of business development. He’s based remotely in Nova Scotia, and works out of our Denver office quarter time.
What do you do at Propeller?
I manage our strategic business development, which is largely focused on our channel partners. We distribute our products through channel partners who already have in-market expertise, like Trimble, a global leader in positioning technology, and Komatsu, a global leader in smart construction equipment.
What’s your career background?
I’ve had a career largely in the “geo-space,” so I’ve worked in geophysics, GIS, and surveying and engineering. Just before Propeller I had a startup that was focused on machine learning and detection of very specific crop anomalies, and we used drones to collect the data. I was an early adopter of drone technology, and became really interested in the space.
Funnily enough, none of that is what I went to school for! I studied international relations and intercultural studies, which I do still use in the business side of my work. I focused on the economic aspects of international relations more than the political stuff. Economic geography was one of my favorites. In that, you look at the friction of distance, so like why you manufacture certain things is different places—because the resources are easy to come by, or the transport routes are easy to use, etc. I’m passionate about the intersections of culture, technology, and business.
Before working at Propeller, what’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve held?
I was involved in an Arctic project that helped Inuit people manage wildlife more effectively by putting the right tools and technology in their hands. Prior to this, a social scientist would have come way up to the Canadian Arctic maybe once or twice a year and ask, “What did you harvest this year?”, “What environmental changes did you see?”, “What was the health of the herds you came across?”, and things like that.
This project provided handheld tools—kind of like rugged iPads—to the Inuit and created an app in original dialects that helped preserve and digitize their traditional knowledge. It also became a way to aggregate that information, so everyone can understand things like the status of a herd’s health, and how environmental changes are happening. It was geospatial because it placed all the data in geographic context, and how it related to other things such as climate. That was really, really neat, and I got to spend a lot of time in the Canadian Arctic.
Where are you from? Where have you lived?
I was born in Portugal, moved to Canada when I was five, and have lived in Canada since (though I’ve spent extended periods in Africa, Australia, and Scandinavia).
What’s your favorite Propeller memory/win?
Our Thailand retreat was a big high point. We were all together. It was equal parts team building and depth, and also really pouring over the business: looking at how to become better as individuals and as a collective team.
If you could be any piece of worksite equipment, what would you be and why?
I’d be the final grader because I like doing the finish work. It’s not blunt. It’s precise, almost surgical. Very strategic. At first, if you’re an excavator, you’re digging out big chunks of things, and so on. But when the grader is done, you know a vehicle is the next thing to drive on that beautiful new surface.
If you could attend any professional sports game, what would it be and why?
Pipeline Hawaii. It’s at the end of the year, and it’s the final event in professional surfing.
Do you have an office nickname? What is it?
Yes, “Frosty.” With a name like John Frost, I got it pretty organically.
If you could do any job at Propeller or on a worksite for just one day, which would you choose?
I love my role at Propeller, so I wouldn’t want to change it. I’d like to be a project manager on a civil construction site, where I was building something like a harbor development. (I love water and the ocean, so being part of something like that would be great.) I could fine tune how fast the project was going and find ways to finish the project on time or early.
Any fun facts, talents, or secret superpowers to share?
I’m a big Lego buff, so I have a healthy collection. I add to it every birthday and Christmas. Mostly Star Wars. It’s been going ever since I was five years old. I love engineering and creating with Lego.
Want to be part of the Propeller Team? We are hiring!