Getting To Know the Managing Director!

Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 by Lucy Roberts

As part of British Science Week, which took place last week, we asked Ossila Managing Director, Dr. James Kingsley, a few questions. We wanted to find out a little more about what the world of science really means to him and what inspired him to be part of it!

Explain what you do in your work

Anything and everything from making tea to coding. In a fast-growing company everyone has to be able to do everything which is part of what makes it interesting - although nowadays I also spend a bit more time drinking tea and chatting to people (officially called meetings).

What is your favourite part of being a scientist or working in science?

Understanding the world around me in mathematical terms but also dreaming of new solutions to tricky problems. One of my favourite parts of the job now is running the figures on a new idea to see if it is technically and commercially viable - basically putting numbers on a daydream to see if it is worth turning into a real project.

What or who inspired you to work in science?

My dad - he was a physicist and electronic engineer who worked on an impressive list of things including time at Jodrell Bank studying radio astronomy, tracking meteors via radar in the Outer Hebrides and during the cold war he also worked on some over-the-horizon radar systems so we could spot incoming enemy aircraft while there was still time to intercept. Later on he was looking for a way to make antennas smaller to study the very low frequency radio waves emitted by rocks being squeezed in the run up to earthquakes. He didn't manage to create an earthquake detection system (somewhat of a holy grail) but it turned out the same idea could be used to make smaller antennas for mobile phone handsets and so a company was set up that eventually produced the antennas used in a huge number of handsets and smartphones.  I worked alongside him (literally on the desk next to him) for a number of years and this is probably the single most important inspiration for co-founding Ossila. He's retired now but I still go to him for advice.

What makes Sheffield a great science city?

The University and the surrounding countryside. Seriously - if you have an interest in both science and quality of life then take a look around the world for other cities with world class universities or research institutes on the doorstep of a national park or beautiful countryside. Boulder in Colorado, Berkley in California,  Grenoble in France and a couple of Swiss cities. The list is pretty short. Of course I'm biased as I grew up in Sheffield but this was part of the reason Ossila was founded - the realisation that as a scientist if I wanted a great job and career prospects during the great recession then I either had to move somewhere boring or create it.