Anthony Ruto does not step away from a challenge.
Originally from Kenya, he moved to the UK at age 17, where he had to switch school systems and cultures, and tackle different challenges as he forged his path to a doctorate degree, created multiple innovative developments, and co-founded a leading software company acquired by the multinational Autodesk.
When he’s not leading innovative technologies, you can catch Anthony staying active outside. “Outside of work, I enjoy spending time doing hikes with family in the countryside, surfing the coast when the opportunity presents itself, and running regularly to stay fit,”
We sat down with Anthony to hear about his accomplishments and career trajectory so far, and how he encourages meaningful impact through innovation in his team at Autodesk .
Anthony’s Academic Journey
“When I moved to the UK, I had to transition to a different education system which gave me new opportunities,” says Anthony. His interest in Math and Science, and Technical Drawing started before his move, but “transitioning to A-levels in the UK allowed me to continue with my focus on Math and some Sciences, although I had to give up on Technical Drawing as this wasn’t offered as a subject in the school I attended.” He also began to explore the world of software programming at school. “I got exposed through friends and learned to program simple games on scientific calculators,” elaborates Anthony. “This led me down a path where I wanted to learn more about computing.”
He was able to foster this interest by studying Computer Graphics as part of his first degree in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge. “Being able to program visualizations was fascinating, going far beyond what I could achieve with a pen, paper, and a bunch of rulers,” Anthony explains. He continued to pursue this passion by completing a Master of Research degree in Computer Vision, Image Processing, Graphics, and Simulation at University College London (UCL). His studies opened up the door to contribute to several innovative projects in the software creation field, including at a 3D body scanning startup (TCTi) and BBC Research.
After a few years, a lead professor from one of Anthony’s previous masters courses at UCL reached out to him. “He offered me a doctorate position to study an Engineering Doctorate in Virtual Environments, Imaging, and Visualization focused on three dimensional (3D) human body shape analysis,” Anthony explains. “I very much enjoyed this area of study and was able to publish a number of papers and present my work at conferences.”
Through his studies, Anthony learned to apply machine learning techniques to the 3D human body shape to derive useful insights from it. Consequently, he has developed a number of patented technologies, such as developing an image guided radiotherapy monitoring system to assist with patient treatment, ensuring a more safe and effective treatment. This was a major milestone as it was a direct application of his doctorate study.
Acquired by Autodesk
Once his degree was complete, Anthony decided to pursue new challenges. “I helped a friend establish a company as a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer,” says Anthony. The company was “focused on developing design optimization software and offering design consulting services for individuals and companies that wanted to explore the very best that 3D printing and additive manufacturing had to offer.” The company had a successful track record, and it eventually became a world leading design optimization solution provider for the 3D printing and additive market. So much so that Autodesk approached the company in early 2014 “and acquired the company midway through the year.”
Autodesk’s main objective is to ”make software for people who make things.” Headquartered in California, the multinational software company develops and sells software solutions widely used in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Product Design, Manufacturing, Media, and Entertainment industry. “From the greenest buildings to the cleanest cars, from the smartest factories to the biggest stories, amazing things are created every day with Autodesk,” says Anthony.
Upon joining the company, Anthony was given a role as Senior Manager, and led the transition from his former company’s technologies into Autodesk’s portfolio of design software tools. “I then led a research and development team that contributed to the development of Autodesk’s generative design technology for manufacturing, and helped transfer this to a product team,” Anthony says. “After, I became a Director in early 2018 and have been leading a research engineering team that explores and develops novel technologies that demonstrate innovation opportunities for Autodesk.”
Keeping Innovation and Sustainability at the Center
Innovation is key to Anthony’s work and his leadership, especially through the evolution of computer science and engineering in the last 25 years. Some of the major changes he has worked through include the “increase in computational power and data storage capacity, cloud computation and network bandwidth, AI methodologies, new manufacturing methods such as 3D printing, and new design paradigms such as generative design.” Through these changes, innovation and sustainability have been the key motivators for Anthony’s work and leadership.
“Innovation is important as it offers new ways of doing things that improve our livelihoods and productivity,” says Anthony. He encourages his team to be innovative by “highlighting opportunities where they can create novel technologies that can have a meaningful impact, such as addressing an unmet customer need or supporting discovery of new solutions that we believe will be important in the not too distant future,” says Anthony. “I am inspired to work with exceptional individuals. Giving them the right problem to solve is key, one that has relevance with our customers and Autodesk’s business.”
Working at Autodesk has given Anthony the opportunity to learn new leadership skills and “work with highly skilled individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the world.” Anthony credits his team’s “incredible ability to solve complex problems” as one of the many rewarding benefits of working at Autodesk. He tries to find meaningful challenges for his team, addressing issues in society that they have an opportunity to play a role in, and creating lasting impact for customers and businesses.
Sustainability is the second key motivator for Anthony's work. “Devising new approaches to aiding designers to design more sustainable buildings and products is motivating and meaningful. Simplifying and accelerating how designers and makers use software to design, manufacture and operate the things that they create is also motivating and meaningful as this can enhance their creativity and productivity.” Anthony encourages leaders to focus on meaningful work to empower highly skilled individuals to make an impact in areas that are important to them.
Autodesk continues to pave the way for innovation. Are you interested in joining their team? Find out more about their roles here!
Renée Pinto is a creative soul.
The Australian native’s passions include all things creative. “I love to paint. I also love to take photos. I was even represented by a gallery in Paddington, Sydney for many years showcasing my oil paintings , as well as my photography,” Renée shares.
When she doesn’t have a paintbrush or camera in hand, she harnesses her creativity at work as a Senior Marketing Manager at global software solutions company Autodesk.
We sat down with Renée to learn how she has used her creativity to grow her marketing career and her tips to harness your creativity so you can do the same.
From Hospitality to Marketing
Renée’s career started with her love for people. “I started working within the hospitality industry, and that's where my love of marketing first took off,” she explains. “I'm a people person. So marketing and events were something that really suited me.”
With a new-found interest in marketing, she moved from working in events to working with small advertising agencies where she enjoyed working in an intimate environment and getting to know people on a personal level. “I started off as a graphic designer,” Renée shares. “I worked in the studio with only two others, which taught me so much about the ins and outs of the business”
This experience lent her valuable insight into the different roles it took to run a small business. “You are learning all aspects of the business which I believe is vital to understand how it operates and how your role fits into the bigger picture.
While building her understanding of the different moving parts of the company, she started building relationships with her colleagues, regardless of their rank. “Being able to connect with people and not having the hierarchy in smaller organizations, has been something that I think has got me to where I am, because I don't see titles. If you are the the junior graphic designer, I'm going to ask you if you want a cup of coffee, just like I'm going to ask the CEO,” Renée says with pride.
This people-first approach supported her when she took a break from the corporate world and turned her passion for photography into a full-time career — an unconventional career move that eventually led her to a bigger marketing role.
Passion Project to Full-Time Career and Back
Renée’s photography business started as an act of kindness over 15 years ago, first starting as a second job. “It actually started as a charitable thing. I started taking photos for friends and people who couldn't afford it on the weekends whilst still working full-time at an agency,” she shares.
And it was through photography that Renée further developed her marketing skills. “It started by using social networks, friends, and family to nominate a family in need of a photo shoot,” Renée explains. “I didn't realize at the time that I was actually marketing, using multiple digital platforms and social channels. Back in those days, print advertising was the way to go, so we even made flyers that we put in letterboxes.”
Eventually, her photography and marketing skills flourished so much that she was able to financially sustain herself through her business full-time. However, over time Renée realized that her passions didn’t need to be her full-time job. “I love photography, but I needed more than that. I needed a full-time job as well as an outlet,” she says. “I soon realized [photography] is something that brings me joy, it's almost like my yoga, my escape, my therapy.”
After five years of full-time photography, Renée chose to opt for a corporate career that would fulfill her professional desires and allow her to keep her hobbies as passion projects.
Landing the Ideal Role at Autodesk
Renée eventually found her way to Autodesk, a tech company that is changing how the world is designed and made. Their technology and software span various industries and help customers solve problems and design a better world.
She first joined as an events and marketing specialist, which went well with her previous experience. But when a former Autodesk co-worker went on maternity leave, Renée got the opportunity to step into the vacant marketing role on the demand generation team. “I loved it. A portion of that role was executing to our end customers, and then the second portion of that role was my introduction to partners and the channel ecosystem and the importance of building relationships,” Renée shares. “I was working directly with our partners. And that's when I [realized], ‘this is where I need to be. This is my calling.’”
Renée has spent the past three years in the Channel Marketing organization at Autodesk as a Channel Marketing Manager, and has recently been promoted to Senior Manager for Channel Marketing APJ. Her day involves “working with Channel Marketing Managers across APJ, meeting with our partners, understanding the gaps and challenges they are facing, and also identifying the enablement our partners require to be successful. Also working alongside our key stakeholders internally, our channel sales teams, demand generation team, channel programs team, and making sure we're aligned with them and have the same priorities and same goals for our partners.”
And it was her previous creative endeavors that helped build the framework for her success as a manager and working with partners. “Photography is the perfect starting point in understanding people, because you're sometimes photographing individuals that don't want their photo taken, you're having to get the best out of them,” she explains. “You need to gauge and learn more about their personality and how you will draw the best out of them. Photography's exactly the same as how you would manage and interact with people in the workplace.”
Some of Renée's artwork and photography she created during the COVID-19 lockdown and an internal Autodesk painting class she led an internal conference.
How to Harness Your Creativity
Creativity can often be seen as something you do or don't have, not a skill that can be learned. But Renée disagrees. “I think we're all born with some sort of creativity. It's just how we utilize it or how we embrace it, practice, and develop it. It's like anything in life, the more you do something, the better you become,” Renée encourages.
For those looking to harness their creativity and advance in the world of marketing Renée offers this advice.
Think outside of the box. “It's great to have an analytical mind. And at the end of the day, data is key — but I think you have to have a balance.” Renée explains. “It's important to have that creative mind and look at things through a new lens so you can work out how you can market that product or solution differently. Sometimes you may fail and sometimes you may succeed, but never be afraid to speak up and share an idea no matter how silly you think it may sound. Usually when in a team environment, what originally sounds like a silly idea, becomes a group discussion with multiple stakeholder inputs and then develops into something that ultimately could be a huge success.”
Try different things outside of work. “You are not going to know what you enjoy or what you are good at, in a creative sense, unless you try different things,” says Renée. In order to do this she recommends stepping outside of your comfort zone. “Do a drawing class. Take up the saxophone, whatever your passion is,” Renée urges. And once you try something new, take that same energy into the business world. “We think that we have parameters and we have to stay within those parameters at work. That's not always the case. I also believe having a creative outlet or hobby outside of work is something that is critical to our mental health and in turn will make you successful and happier at work”
Try new things within your career and don’t be afraid to fail. At Autodesk, Renée has worked with people who have come to marketing from all different careers and walks of life. “There are definitely people within Autodesk, like myself, who have a very non-conventional background in the tech space,” Renée shares. “We are told when we leave high school that we must know what we want to do and move straight into studies. The pressure on young people can be immense to make a decision straight away, however you can also be successful by trying different roles, working within different industries, and actually getting first-hand experience, which will be valuable in finding where you truly are meant to be. I tried multiple different careers to learn what I loved and then went on to study. There is no one path you should follow and it is never too late to try something new.” To Renée’s previous point, trying new things can be key to success, but more importantly, you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. “If it doesn't work the first time, maybe there's a different way you could do it.”
If you’re ready to use your creativity in a new way, check out the open positions at Autodesk.
Loi Nguyen sees the value in keeping a learning and open mind .
It was a key part of what drove her to explore acrylic painting and hiking during the pandemic….
And it was also something that she took away from her MBA, which she moved to the United States from Vietnam to pursue.
“There are some key mindset changes I made during my program,” says Loi, “and it’s that learning mindset that helped when I applied to Autodesk.”
Now working as a Sales Strategist at the design software company, Loi has plenty of opportunities to continue to grow her abilities and learn to solve problems in different ways.
“It’s an internal consulting job, so you have chances to work on high-profile projects with cross-functional teams,” she says. “It’s part analytics — we analyze a problem to create the strategy. It’s part project management, which I really like doing.”
We sat down with Loi to hear more about her path to Autodesk and how she prioritizes opportunities to make an impact.
From Vietnam to MBA to Autodesk
Loi has always been passionate about sustainability and innovation.
Growing up in a small agricultural village in the North of Vietnam, Loi has a genuine love for nature and cares deeply about environmental sustainability. So her first professional job was in sales at a water treatment company (which just so happened to be Loi’s first exposure to AutoCAD software).
Looking for a more innovative environment, she joined a startup incubator (also a startup itself) as a project manager. That experience made Loi realize she could have a much bigger impact on the startups if she had a stronger understanding of the market, so she took a job at Nielsen, a market research firm, leveraging her strength in math and analytics.
After strengthening her analytical skills and broadening her market knowledge at Nielsen, Loi decided to pursue an MBA to explore different career paths that would align with her skills. (The U.S. ended up becoming her destination of choice because her partner — and now husband — got into a PhD program in California.)
In the first year at UC Irvine, Loi explored Marketing, Finance, and more through networking, courses, competitions, and a summer internship. It was her second year that Loi found special interest in consulting. In one of her courses, she served as the lead on a real consulting project with a very large healthcare company.
“It was a great experience. I learned how to work with high-level stakeholders and was taught how to professionally lead a consulting project,” she says.
But that wasn’t the only hands-on consulting experience she got: “I also volunteered at a non-profit sustainability consultancy, which was an opportunity to leverage my analytical skills and project management skills towards something I’m passionate about.”
These experiences left her feeling like she was making a real impact, and she knew she wanted to continue that after graduation, so she started looking for opportunities in consulting and business analytics.
It was a fellow Vietnamese MBA student, who had interned at Autodesk the previous summer, encouraged Loi to look at Autodesk’s Sales Strategy position. Even though sales strategy hadn’t been on Loi’s radar, it ended up being a perfect fit for her past experiences and future goals.
“I was already familiar with the company, and when I read the job description I was immediately interested. I saw how I’d be able to make a social impact here with my sales, analytics, and project management experience.”
3 Ways to Think About Impact at Work
Loi wasn’t just excited to join Autodesk because it was an opportunity to put her analytical skills to work — it was also a chance to work on products that line up with the impact she wants to make on the world.
“Autodesk can make the world a more sustainable place with the design tools we provide to architects, and other people across industries,” she says. “I care about sustainability. Our products can help achieve sustainability goals around carbon footprints for buildings and infrastructure.”
From a micro scale to a macro scale, Loi has a few tips on how to think about expanding your own impact at work:
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. “The organizational behavior class in my MBA required me to directly ask my old colleagues and teammates about these. I was surprised about how people thought about me. At Autodesk, I frequently ask my manager for feedback so that I can improve,” she says.
- Ask about the larger goals of your day-to-day work. It can be easy to get lost in a list of tasks, but make sure you understand the why behind them, says Loi. “It motivates you to bring out the best in you and to go above and beyond. The most important part of strategy is to convince people on why you’re doing something, so they’re motivated to do it.”
- Consider ways to pay it forward. “While creating an impact as a pro-bono consultant at Seed, I learned a lot from and with other volunteers and clients.” Autodesk also has their own pro-bono consulting program where employees can give a few hours a week to help out nonprofits, and Loi is excited to be able to participate.
The Kind of Culture That Makes Growth Possible
Loi recognizes that she’s only able to do meaningful work because she feels supported at work.
“When you’re leading a team, you need to create the environment and the psychological safety where people can show their vulnerabilities and trust each other,” she says. “By doing that, I don’t have to try to be someone else.”
That’s the culture she’s found at Autodesk, Loi explains.
It’s not just that Loi only can have open conversations with her manager about things like work style or working hours. (For instance, Loi loves seeing the sunset, and will often log off right before the sun goes down in order to see it live, and then will come back online later to finish her work.)
She’s also able to continue to pursue growth and feel supported along the way.
“I’m able to be myself at work. I’m really comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘I want to learn about this.’ I can easily find a mentor, or schedule a call with an expert, even if they’re a director. They’re open for you to learn from them.”
💎 When looking ahead in your career, you probably want to acquire new technical knowledge. But what’s the best way to train for it and learn new skills? Don’t miss these tips on how to improve your tech skills!
📼 Play this video to get three top tips on how to improve your tech skills. You'll hear from Mina Zhou, Lead Application Security Engineer, and Matt Battles, Engineering Lead in the ACS division of Autodesk.
📼 Tip #1: Master the Skill (Don’t Rush Through It!). The first tip on how to improve your tech skills goes like this: when you’re learning a new skill or technology, it’s best to take the time to thoroughly master it. Make sure you truly understand a new term or concept before moving on. Avoid rushing through it. Sometimes people will focus more on the topic they are familiar with and skim through those they aren’t. Instead, keep researching and exploring the same issue until you feel like you get it. If you’ve read through the docs and are still stuck, schedule some time with a colleague or friend to discuss the problem. This will help you improve your communication skills as well, since clearly articulating an issue can be the best way to find a solution quickly and efficiently. And remember: Learning is a marathon, not a sprint.
📼 Tip #2: Learn by Doing. The second tip on how to improve your tech skills centers around this: If there’s an area of your code you are unfamiliar with, try picking up a bug in that domain. This will help you to immerse yourself in the code and give you a place to start digging, rather than trying to understand an entire domain at once. Diving in and getting to the core of an issue can be very meaningful, and solving the problem will help cement the knowledge into your mind. When you feel stuck on a project and look for solutions online, try not to copy and paste other people's work line by line without reviewing it. Make sure you understand their approaches and what they did differently to make things work. Then, implement the same idea with different methods and figure out what works best for you. With this, you are not only building one thought process per problem but actually figuring out the best solution and owning it.
Top Tips on How to Improve Your Tech Skills: Last-Minute Tip!
📼 Tip #3: Set Measurable and Useful Goals. When defining goals, focus on things you can measure and start small! Break down your long-term goal into short-term tasks with reasonable deadlines. You would not want to go too fast and burn out or set a date too far away to make you feel motivated. Really focus on the why. Think about what you want to get out of being an engineer and how you'd like your career to progress over the next two or even five years. This will help you set goals that align with your ambitions and derive lots of meaning from them. If you fail to meet a deadline, instead of blaming yourself, adjust your plan and think about what you can do better next time. And do the same thing when you meet a deadline earlier as well! Ask yourself, were you not being ambitious enough? Is it easier than you thought? Or did you find a new technique that works better for you than usual? And most importantly, when you achieve something: Celebrate!
📨 Are you interested in joining Autodesk? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
More About Autodesk
From the greenest buildings to the cleanest cars, the smartest factories to the biggest stories, amazing things are created every day with Autodesk. Over four decades, they've worked together with customers to transform how things are made and what can be made. A car's performance now inspires the method of its manufacture, a city's infrastructure helps predict the unpredictable, and the creation of ever-bigger universes shapes ever-bigger stories. Today, Autodesk solutions span countless industries empowering innovators everywhere. But they're restless to do more. They don't believe in waiting for progress; they believe in making it. By combining and recombining technologies. By blurring boundaries, reinventing rules, and merging fields. By unleashing talent and unlocking insights across industries. By helping their customers converge on solutions to the challenges we all face today. At Autodesk, they believe that when you have the right tools to work and think flexibly, you have the power to transform what needs making. The ability to design and create a better world for all.