Head of Smart Business-Americas, LEDVANCE
By Joe Nowlan
Like many in the electrical industry, Aaron Ganick always liked to take things apart as a kid.
“I was always a tinkerer,” he said. “I would build different mechanical and electrical things. I loved seeing how things worked. I liked making different systems.”
He enrolled at Boston University to study electrical engineering.
“I got a quick jump into developing and working with different communications technologies,” he explained. “I had a passion for putting technology together to solve real world problems that people and businesses had.”
His studies and related work included working with LED lighting.
“I had the opportunity to work with some of the first forms of visible light communications which essentially uses LEDs to transmit data. We were among the first people with funding from the National Science Foundation and collaborated with a several other universities to pioneer the technology,” Aaron explained. “We were exploring the use of LEDs in commercial lighting products to send data back and forth from devices. My group was focused on applying the technology to real-world problems.”
While he later attended BU graduate school, he also entered some business plan competitions, Aaron explained. He had ideas of taking similar technology and applications he was working on and bringing it to a marketplace.
He was able to raise some funding, found a startup company named ByteLight, build a team and also receive numerous patent grants.
“We had a bunch of different applications we could approach with the technology and over the next two or three years lasered in on what was most valuable to our customers,” he said. “We focused on indoor positioning in places like retail shops and other public places. We eventually were acquired by a large lighting manufacturer.”
While that acquisition gave him the freedom to explore multiple options, Aaron was not content to put his feet up and relax.
“I was doing a little bit of consulting and taking a break after a couple of years of working like crazy. The ups and downs of startups can really take a lot out of you,” he laughed. “Taking a peek at a couple of lighting companies made sense given my background and newfound experience in the industry.”
OSRAM SYLVANIA won him over with a unique approach.
“They told me, ‘We need your DNA and people like you to think about what the applications of the future mean for our industry,'” he explained. “It was really kind of a match made in heaven. And I’ve been here ever since.”
He was with OSRAM SYLVANIA for about year while it was legally still part of OSRAM before moving over to LEDVANCE, he explained. LEDVANCE is the former OSRAM general lighting lamps business which offers SYLVANIA lighting products for homes and businesses. LEDVANCE formally separated from OSRAM in 2016.
Aaron and his wife Anna enjoy some non-technology hobbies, time permitting.
“I enjoy working outside in the yard. I do a little bit of construction around the house. And I do a lot of woodworking. I have been perpetually building a workshop in my basement for a couple of years now,” he laughed.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. My advice would really be to continue to reinvent yourself because the market and the industry are going to change year-over-year. Competition only gets thicker. Be ready to challenge yourself. Be ready to reinvent yourself. Take feedback from others to be sure you are growing from a development perspective. Watch what the market is doing but challenge the status quo.
Don’t be afraid to make some waves. Don’t just run all over the place causing fires, of course. Companies are looking for people who will take ownership, that will call something their own and who will be outspoken. But also be able to work really well on cross-functional teams because the lines of business, product and marketing are blurring so closely.
We are seeing the need for people who can work well in teams that are cross functional, who are team players but also can stand up and drive things.
Q. What industry-related books, websites, blogs, social media do you follow regularly and why (aside from tED and NAED materials)?
A. I read a lot of technology news and a lot of business news along with a lot of Google alerts for different keywords regarding some of the key players I work with—whether it be Apple or Google or Amazon. I listen to a lot of technology podcasts. But I also do a lot of reading.
One book I recently read is entitled “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind.” It is about how you can create impact and make changes in the world by first mentally hacking the structures and biases that exist inside your mind. There are a lot of interesting stories from some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world. The book talks a lot about how to focus on things that are in your control and how to ignore some of the cultural standards and rules that we may have grown up with that were built into us. Those things can change.
I also read books about how to build great companies and great organizations.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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