MSc Geomatics Engineering
Specialization in Positioning, Navigation and Wireless Location
Schulich School of Engineering
University of Calgary
Where is he today?
Strategic Marketing Analyst, Trimble Inc.
Sergey Krasovski gets strategic about the future of technology
One Saturday, when Sergey Krasovski was an undergrad studying radiophysics at Belarusian State University in Minsk, Belarus, he started to think about where he might like to go to pursue a graduate degree abroad - and improve his English. He had a eureka moment. “I remembered some really great papers I’d read about GPS signals and signals from inertial sensors and I thought, ‘Why don’t I check out those schools?’” Krasovski says. “I opened the papers on my PC and I realized that like five of the papers came from the exact same university and the exact same research group.”
Fast forward a few years, and Krasovski was a graduate student with this group at the University of Calgary’s Position, Location and Navigation (PLAN) group in the Department of Geomatics Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering. “I was extremely passionate about space navigation and satellites, and I knew that the University of Calgary is well known in that industry,” he says.
Krasovski’s master’s thesis focused on interference and the techniques that can fool GPS receivers – like if you were travelling from point A to B and your device told you the wrong information. He found the topic especially appealing because he could see real-world applications. The project was “super technical” and Krasovski initially wanted to continue and pursue a PhD in this area then maybe work as an algorithm developer for GPS or related sensors.
“But then, after talking to my geomatics engineering mentors and supervisors, professor Mark Petovello and professor emeritus Gérard Lachapelle, I changed my mind,” he says. “They suggested, ‘Go to industry, explore what you might prefer for your long-term career, and then, if you want to do a PhD, come back.’ That was great advice.”
Krasovski went to a University of Calgary job fair and sent out a number of resumes. He ended up interviewing with Intel, Microsoft, several Calgary-based firms, and others, and received a couple of job offers to do heavy technical work. But, his meeting with Trimble Inc., a top geospatial firm, is the one that stood out. The company’s rotational development program would let a new employee like Krasovski spend his first two years of work doing four rotations in different business groups; he would get exposure to engineering rotations and management rotations while working with a number of different technologies.
“I talked with some friends who had done it and it sounded amazing. It sounded like a way to not only see what you might like best, but also to find your strengths and weaknesses, and be exposed to so many things,” he says.
After a series of interviews, Krasovski landed the job, working first for Trimble in Germany and then in Denver, Colorado. He particularly enjoyed his third and fourth job rotations, which were focused on product management and marketing. Specifically, in his third rotation, Krasovski worked as a product manager in Trimble’s Mixed Reality division, which partners with hardware vendors and develops AR and VR software for industrial and enterprise applications. That last rotation, with some adjustments, became his current role, working in strategic marketing in Trimble’s emerging markets sector to create products that will solve customers’ business problems.
Day to day, Krasovski still draws on his technical engineering background as he acts as a bridge between end users and software developers, sales representatives and colleagues from marketing. “It’s extremely important, and there are so many interesting things to discover,” he says.
“I realized that I am not only excited about state-of-the-art technology, but also I am extremely passionate about technology strategy,” Krasovski says. “I wanted to know more about what would happen in the industry in the next three, five years. I'd rather not try to change a little bit. I'd like to see that bigger picture and the strategy for the future. That really excites me.”
My geomatics engineering mentors...suggested, ‘Go to industry, explore what you might prefer for your long-term career, and then, if you want to do a PhD, come back.’ That was great advice.
How did UCalgary’s Schulich School of Engineering prepare you to be an engineer?
The University of Calgary was a great place for me to get exposed to experts who really know what they are doing – especially in my research group, PLAN, which stands for Positioning, Location and Navigation. I had about 30 peers: master’s students, PhD students, and post docs from all over the world (Austria, China, India, Iran, Europe, Canada etc.) in addition to my amazing supervisors. It was an extremely great circle of people who I got to discuss technology with every day - not only GPS, but augmented reality and all kinds of things. The experience just planted even more curiosity in me.
What were your Schulich School of Engineering highlights?
The first year of my master’s, I was heavily involved in coursework; I did labs, I did lectures. The second year was focused on my thesis research as well as a project I did for an industrial partner in collaboration with a professor. It was a great experience. I practiced presentation skills because we gave weekly or monthly updates to the company that was sponsoring a research project that I was a part of. I was able to gain extra skills beyond what I was learning for my master’s and also worked with different equipment. I learned what it’s like to be part of a team and what it means to have deadlines. For my thesis, I learned what it means to analyze and defend your results, and what it means to understand others. There we so many things to learn and to gain experience in at the University of Calgary. It was just phenomenal.
Who were your UCalgary mentors?
I really value relationships with my mentors and supervisors. When it comes to finding a mentor, I think you should try to look to somebody you admire. It may not necessarily be Mark Zuckerberg. It should be someone who you can build a personal relationship with. It should be someone who can coach you and guide you through your career, and provide new perspectives. So I just cannot emphasize enough how much I'm grateful for having both professor Mark Petovello and professor emeritus Gérard Lachapelle (both geomatics engineering professors at the Schulich School of Engineering) as my mentors. I'm in touch with them and I admire them, and they're my role models. I wish I could be as successful at some point in my life as both of them.
What is your advice for new engineering students?
I have always been very curious about all sorts of things. My high school teachers would always call me ‘why man.’ I would always ask questions like, ‘Hey, why is that?’ I think, throughout school and now at the company, I really prefer to listen first and observe. One of the people I admire is the former soccer player Sir Alex Ferguson, who used to manage Manchester United for like 25 years. My favourite expression is something he said. ‘There’s a reason that God gave us two ears, two eyes and one mouth. It’s so you can listen and watch twice as much as you talk. Best of all, listening costs you nothing.’ This is why I always prefer to listen, but also I like to ask questions if I don't understand. That leads to really powerful conversations, especially if you talk to people who are experts in what they do.
What is your life beyond engineering?
I did some volunteering while I was at the University of Calgary, especially with an organization called Let's Talk Science Canada. I did sessions at different schools, and that was just a phenomenal experience for me. I talked with kids about what we do in technology, and why science is cool and engineering is cool. I really loved it. It also helped contribute to the development of my communication skills in English.
I love mountains. Hiking is the hobby I acquired in Canada.
What does it mean to you to be an engineer?
My job title right now at Trimble Inc., it doesn't say anything about engineering. But Trimble has the motto, ‘Transforming the way the world works.’ Engineers think about how things work and how they can transform things. That's what makes me curious. Like if you look at Elon Musk, he's always curious, asking, ‘Can we fly to Mars?’ Or, in daily life we ask, ‘How does the telephone work? Why do we have a WiFi signal that’s stronger in one room than another? Why does your GPS watch take 30 to 40 seconds to start when you come out of your building for a run?’ There are so many questions that make me curious. I think that curiosity and the ability to find answers is something that engineers always need to possess. If you do something as an engineer, you better do it well because if you engineer something, others will be using it. It better be good because businesses depend on it and lives depend on it.