Christopher Baker-Brian, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of BBOXX.

I'd like that job - Christopher Baker-Brian Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer BBOXX

In 2010 Christopher co-founded BBOXX with two friends during their final year at university. The business provides solar energy kits to the developing world and today has 140 employees across six countries.

Christopher obtained a first class MEng in electronic and electrical engineering at Imperial College London. Today he’s responsible for product development, supply chain and heading up BBOXX’s manufacturing arm in South East Asia.

What’s your name?

Christopher Baker-Brian.

Age?

28.

Where do you work?

BBOXX Ltd.

What's your job title?

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.

How did you get there?

I founded BBOXX straight out of university with two other classmates whilst we were studying for our final year exams; on reflection, quite a brave thing to do!

BBOXX designs, manufactures, distributes and finances off-grid solar systems across the developing world. Since 2010, the company has grown to employ over 140 people in six countries, providing over 200,000 people with access to basic electricity.

What's the work and day-to-day experience like?

I look after the 15 person strong engineering team in London that develops new products and software plus I also oversee the manufacturing of products at our facilities in China. This means I am involved throughout the product development cycle, starting with concept designs in London and finishing with several thousand units produced in the factory.

What's the best thing about the job?

It’s a common thing to say but the work is incredibly varied; I could be dealing with new product development one day, then working with Chinese suppliers the next to get our products produced. The growth of our company in the last two years has been incredibly rapid, which means you always have to be on your toes.

And the worst?

Dealing with employees on three continents means a lot of travel, which is not always as fun as it sounds!

What has been your career highlight to date?

The release of our SMART Solar system in 2014 was our biggest product launch to date and allows us to provide an amazing service to our customers as we monitor all our products in real time, even in the remote rural areas that we operate in.

Going from a prototype to several thousand units in production within a year was challenging but very rewarding to see those deployed.

How would you describe life as a working engineer?

Quite often it’s the skills that you don’t necessarily learn at college/university that you need the most in this job; negotiation, communication skills are very important in what I do.

What did you discover when you started running your own business – did anything surprise you?

In the first few years when the team was very small it was very easy to know exactly what everyone in the company was doing. The biggest change in the last two years has been the growth in the number of people; learning to delegate and manage people has been a very much ‘on the job’ experience.

Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?

I really enjoy what I do and for anyone entering an engineering career, finding a role that is rewarding and challenging (although not easy!) is probably the best thing you can do – it’s not all about the salary!

What do you think you'll do next?

With another 1.3 billion people still awaiting electricity in the developing world, I think this will keep me busy for some time to come!

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