Despite not getting the A-levels required to make an immediate start on his degree in product design, Ross Pascoe went on to achieve first-class honours and has since forged a career with leading names in the world of design and engineering.
Ross loved the problem solving and innovation connected with product design from an early age but admits he struggled with the traditionally academic subjects at school. He said: “I aspired to do a design degree and was attracted to the BU course because of its focus on practical model making, which I think is so important for designers. While my A-level grades were not good enough to get onto the first year, I decided to do a foundation year at the local college as a stepping-stone. It enabled me to get my foot in the door and to demonstrate that I had what it takes. While mental arithmetic was still not my strength, I found that I could cope well with the applied maths required. Interestingly, there were four of us who took that route that year and three went on to get first-class degrees.”
From the foundation year, Ross has never looked back. His degree, coupled with a placement year working in design for an electrified train company, led to an unconditional offer to join Lear Corporation as a Design Engineer where he helped create parts for Jaguar. He said: “The placement year is such a good opportunity because you are basically approaching companies not just as a graduate but as someone with a year already under your belt. It helps you to make a big step up.”
Ross was quickly headhunted by Dyson – who he had met and impressed during BU’s Festival of Design and Engineering – and became part of the R&D team behind their first ball vacuum cleaner, the DC15. He went on to spend more than 12 years with Dyson, where he was Head of Engineering Operations in Asia before becoming Head of Engineering back in the UK. Ross said: “Dyson offers a great environment in which to grow and develop. You are encouraged to try new things on the understanding that they might fail, and that failure gives you the impetus to try again and make things better. This approach to design is reflected in approaches to career development, and while I never had a game plan for my career, I was hungry for more responsibility and took the opportunities as they came along.”
In 2014 Ross moved from Dyson to Stannah, where he is now Chief Technology and Design Officer. The role offered him the chance to be part of the senior team setting strategy and vision and he is currently enjoying the opportunities to develop the company’s products and business approaches. Ross said: “Sustainability has become a major focus; from the way we move goods and services around the business to rethinking the lifecycle of the products we provide to customers. It’s an exciting opportunity to re-imagine the way we operate. Despite the changes, the core of what we do – supporting people’s mobility at home – remains, and I get huge satisfaction from knowing that we make a difference to our customers’ quality of life.”
When asked for his advice to new design and engineering graduates, Ross said: “We want people who can demonstrate how they work through a problem and iterate through design. Sadly, the portfolio seems to have died out, which is why graduate shows are important for us and I am always more interested in seeing the prototypes than the outcome. Beyond that we want people who can communicate well and work flexibly in teams, and who can respond to a challenge when things don’t go to plan.”