Mendelife – Meet Branden Faulls

 Branden Faulls

 

Branden is our VP Product, known online by the mysterious alias of “omphe”.  To pronounce it, he explains, imagine being hit in the gut with a sack full of marshmallows.


How long have you been with Mendeley for?
Since May 2012

Where did you work before coming to Mendeley ?
I was a tech contractor so I’ve really worked just about everywhere:  AMEE, Imano, Dennis Publishing, Capita, HomeServe etc, etc. But my first career was as a dancer and I toured the world working with Rambert Dance Company, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and more.

What made you apply for a job at Mendeley?
Paul Föckler and I met at a Scalability unconference at the Guardian in 2010.  I was talking a lot about delivery and scaling technical team management in some of the sessions and we had a brief talk about the growth that Mendeley was going through. Fast forward to last year, and he approached me about the opening for Product leadership.

Have things changed in Mendeley since you started working here?
I’d like to think that I’ve had a good impact on the transparency of our direction and priorities since I’ve arrived.  I’ve really been pushing for radical transparency around all of our choices of what we’ll develop for users and what everyone is working on at any given week.  We’ve got much greater visibility around the planned work ahead and David Lee and the insight/analytics team have made great progress on showing how we are performing against our commitments. But the big change is how much the team has grown and the recent momentum we’ve been picking up as we start moving in sync. There’s a lot more collaboration going on and this is going to result in some great improvements to the Mendeley user experience.

What’s the best thing about coming to work at Mendeley?
I get to work with some very clever people who are extremely passionate about what they want in the product. And the food on Leather Lane.

Do you have any pets?
I’ve got a lovely old border collie named Ruby who’s been my pal for 11 years now. She’s stuck with me through some pretty big life changes and always kept me moving on some pretty ambitious outdoor pursuits.  She’s getting a little slower in the mountains, but we’ll be out for an adventure as long as we can still get out there.

What is the one website you can’t live without?
I’ve never been particularly attached to specific websites, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive without the app Pocket.  I have such a steady stream of links and posts flooding my attention every day and I love being able to import them to Pocket and catch up without distraction when I’m travelling.  We’d do well, to make our mobile app fill the same role in researchers lives and I think Steve Dennis has been doing an amazing job of taming the flood of research articles for researchers on the go.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
I dreamt of being an astronomer for a long while and I spent many a cold winter evening steaming up my backyard telescope while staring down the jittery craters of the moon. My enthusiasm died a bit when I discovered the central role of maths in modern astronomy and the realisation that telescope time was a rare and scarce commodity. Then I fancied being a doctor until a field trip to a pathology lab full of oversized livers and sliced cadavers put me off too.  And mountaineering had a big draw to me, despite growing up in a relatively flat part of the States. But I had been in a ballet studio from the age of six, so by my teens it was becoming pretty clear to me that I had a future and calling to be onstage and I grabbed that opportunity.  Dancers really need to be in a company as an apprentice by the time they’re 17-18, so I left home at 17 to follow my dream.

If you could acquire one extra skill or talent, what would that be?
Patience.  Life is short and I’m on the third act of my second career.  But if you always rush, you miss the richness of what you have right now.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?
I’m terrible about starting many books at once and always have several things on the go:

– The Art of the Start & Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki : I love Kawasaki’s distilled and lucid approach to startup business
– Data Visualisation : I’ve been learning Processing.org to keep my programming chops up and to scratch some visualisation itches I’ve had
– Think Stats : I work with some incredibly smart people at Mendeley and its disrespectful not to understand and wield some more rigorous statistical skills
– Bandit Algorithms for website optimisation : I want to start pushing our behavioural testing here and there are some great algorithms in this text
– Insanely Simple : The Apple approach to product and development is focussed and successful. An awesome look at their approach.
–  Welsh 3000 Ft challenges: I’m under the impression that I’ll get fit enough to compete this gruelling 29 miler in Snowdonia this year.  We’ll see
– Goedel, Escher, Bach : I’m stuck a bit on this, but its a fascinating blend of art, science and philosophy

What would you change about the world if you could change one thing?
We’d stop destroying this incredible planet we live on in the pursuit of passing desire.  I spend a good deal of time on glaciers at high altitude and have seen first-hand how quickly our climate is warming.  I just can’t fathom why we’d allow this to happen, just to preserve our privilege of driving our lazy butts to go shopping.

Favourite hobby?
I code and make things whenever I get the chance and having kids is giving me great excuses to do that in spades.  My daughter and I are building robots with Lego and Arduino these days.  Go #dadops.

Favourite food/drink?
I am a bit of a sucker for Pizza.  And with Maletti so close up the road, its hard to resist.

Favourite film?
Blade Runner remains my enduring favourite.  Since becoming a father, I see less film in the cinema than I used to, but I’m getting to rediscover all the great kids films.  My daughter Bella and I love the “Old Bamboo” number from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang.  Plus Pixar can do no wrong. (Except Cars, which was nothing but wrong.  Let’s never speak of it again.)

Three things you would put in Room 101
Plastic waste
Sticking plasters in swimming pools
People who don’t make eye contact or return a friendly “Hello” when you pass and greet them.

Now for a serious one worthy of the Mendeley vision: If you could give
unlimited funding and resources to one area of research, what would it
be and why?

I’d get everyone to stop messing about with genetic modification.  I mean, c’mon, we’re just thinking small!  Glow in the dark mice?  Pest resistant grain!  Give me a flat-chested, eight legged chicken and I’ll show you more Sunday roast than you could shake a drumstick at.

Oh, and cancer of course.

Mendelife – Meet David Lee

David Lee

This time around, we have a friendly chat with our VP Finance & Operations David Lee, who’s been with us here at Mendeley for just under a year, before which he worked for the likes of EMI and Betfair.

What made you apply for a job at Mendeley?
Mendeley ticked all the criteria I was looking for in my next challenge: I wanted to help build a company with an innovative/disruptive product with huge potential. Work with real entrepreneurs and have a role with lots of responsibility and impact.

When you started working here, were things like you expected?
I knew there would be a cultural change going from a corporate to a start-up, but I was pleasantly surprised. Mendeley has a fun environment and a genuine team culture, it really feels like we are all in the same boat working together to make something great.

Have things changed in Mendeley since you started working here?
I like to think that I have brought a certain level of organisation and focus to the company. Not too much, but just enough.

What’s the best thing about coming to work at Mendeley?
The ability to get stuff done quickly and have a very real and immediate impact is highly rewarding and refreshing (compared with a larger corp organisation).

Do you have any pets? If not, what would be your ideal one?
My ideal pet would be a Dashchund that shits money.

Who would be invited to your perfect dinner party? (you may include fictional characters and dead people)
I was lucky enough recently to be invited to a dinner party with this years BAFTA winners/nominees. It would be hard to top that.

If you could acquire one extra skill or talent, what would that be?
The ability to fly

What book are you reading at the moment and why?
Steve Jobs biography – it’s taken me months to get through. I am always reading about entrepreneurs, innovation, start-ups and business strategy.

What would you change about the world if you could change one thing?
Suffering

What was the first record you ever bought?
Starship – Nothings going to stop us now.

What music is on your iPod at the moment?
I am mostly on Spotify now. I love using their app platform for music discovery.

Favourite food/drink?
I do love a tasty burger

Favourite film?
Impossible question. But Star Wars would feature somewhere close to the top.

Favourite place in the world?
Tokyo with my wife

Three things you would put in Room 101
Jan, Victor and Paul! ha ha ha ha! Only kidding, those guys rock.

Now for a serious one worthy of the Mendeley vision: If you could give
unlimited funding and resources to one area of research, what would it
be and why

Time travel.

Mendelife – Meet Carole Khalil

Carole Khalil

 

This week we ask some questions of our bubbly Office Manager Carole, who is responsible for keeping things looking lovely and working smoothly here at Mendeley HQ. 

When you started working here, were things like you expected?
They were exactly like I imagined, really laid back and really interesting
people all passionate about the company

Have things changed in Mendeley since you started working here?
I am still working on making the office a fun place to work in and hopefully the
changes will be felt soon

What’s the best thing about coming to work at Mendeley?
Everyone is friendly and chatty (and breakfast obviously)

Do you have any pets?
I have a cat back in Madeira called Fluffy, he is all white and very fluffy. He is massive at over 7Kg and thinks he is a dog. He has one yellow eye and one blue eye. He is the best cat ever and needs attention all the time. If you don’t pay him any attention, he will come, sit on your laps and you cannot move.

What is the one website you can’t live without?
I have to say Facebook as I am following my friends from all around the world.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Air hostess. I love flying.

If you could acquire one extra skill or talent, what would that be?
I would like to be a great singer

What book are you reading at the moment and why?
Sir Alan Sugar because I was curious to get to know the man more and have a better understanding of his business mind.

What would you change about the world if you could change one thing?
Now I am going to sound like a beauty pageant contestant and say world peace.

What was the first record you ever bought?
It was actually a present but my friend back in France got me Bros: ‘When will I be famous’, loved it.

What music is on your iPod at the moment?
On my MP3 player, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and English music, oh and Turkish.

Favourite video hobby?
I love dancing.

Your greatest vice?
Smoking I guess

Favourite place in the world?
It would have to be Australia, I absolutely adored the East coast.

Three things you would put in Room 101
Spiders, thunder and onions

Now for a serious one worthy of the Mendeley vision: If you could give
unlimited funding and resources to one area of research, what would it
be and why?

Medical research to beat diseases like cancer and Climate change to make sure we have a planet if we get to live longer