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Geek of the Week – Ruben Campos

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“The Engineer with a Musical Ear”

Ruben Campos likes to figure out how things work.  And as a client advocate in the Packaged Goods, Automotive, Public Sector, Not-for-Profit group at Environics Analytics, he has plenty of opportunities to do just that. Whether it’s digging into a database to extract an insight that solves a client’s business challenges or figuring out the right notes to play on his guitar, Ruben’s desire to know what makes things tick serves him well on the job and in life.

Growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, Ruben expressed an early interest in technology, which was encouraged by his parents, both dentists. He began using computers at a young age—building them, fixing them and generally figuring out how they work.  Though as a child he wanted to be a veterinarian, he realized as he grew older that a love of animals is only one aspect of the profession.

“Picturing my hand inside a cow’s rear end wasn’t a pleasant image,” he laughs. “So I went into engineering instead.”

El Avila national park in Venezuela, one of Ruben’s favourite places in the world.

Cow innards aside, Ruben is not one to shy away from a challenge. While he achieved only modest grades in math in high school, he decided to pursue a degree in engineering, where physics and complex mathematical problems are common. “I’m pretty good at math now, thanks to engineering,” he says.  “People say practice makes perfect and I had plenty of practice in my calculus and physics courses.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering at Universidad Simon Bolivar, Ruben worked for a distributor of security software and mailroom solutions, which led to an interest in applying technology to better understand and retain customers. Today he applies many of the techniques he learned in engineering to his work at EA.  The analytical process, is the same, he explains, whether looking a technological challenge or evaluating customer data or a trade area. Ruben is able to pose the key questions to produce a successful marketing strategy.

“When you see the difference you make to their bottom line and see the impact of your work on their marketing efforts, the results are very gratifying,” he says.

On the job, Ruben spends much of his time helping clients figure out who their best customers are and how to reach them and understand their needs. To be good at his position, he says that you need to be able to see patterns and trends in customer behavioural data, and also have an understanding of the human factor behind the numbers. His favourite part of his job is using the tools and techniques at his disposal to affect the marketing decisions and strategies of clients.

“When you see the difference you make to their bottom line and see the impact of your work on their marketing efforts, the results are very gratifying,” he says.

Traditional Venezuelan food: tequenos (cheese sticks wrapped in dough and deep fried) and arepas (grilled or fried corn flour patties filled with meat, cheese and vegetable fillings and topped with savoury sauces) can be found in some of Toronto’s restaurants like Rica Arepa and Arepa Cafe.

Ruben’s love of technology and analytical mind serve him well as musician, since music combines theory and technique to create art. He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, and while in school in Caracas, he played in a pop rock band on weekends in addition handling a heavy academic workload.  And though he has yet to play any gigs in Toronto, he says once he gets a little more established in Canada, he might consider it.

Settling in Canada was an important landmark for Ruben; he’s been living here for two and a half years and is now a permanent resident.  His path to Canada from Venezuela took a side trip through Spain, where he spent time working for a robotics research institute, Instituto de Automatica Industrial, in Madrid. He worked designing precision motion controllers to be used in a variety of robots including a bipedal humanoid resembling a robot servant from science fiction fantasy. After a six-month stint in Europe in 2008, he returned to Venezuela and his software engineering job. Then he was given the opportunity to study abroad and earn an MBA, but he had to choose between Canada and Australia. And like so many marketplace decisions, proximity mattered.
“I had been to Canada and really liked Toronto,” he recalls.  “Australia is similar, with a great multicultural community, but it is just too far from Venezuela.”

In the end, Ruben chose Toronto, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration from Ryerson University.  He now lives in a vibrant Continental Culture neighbourhood in the Little Italy area along College Street between Bathurst and Ossington. Like many who live in this segment, Ruben is able to engage in several of his favourite activities within a short walk from his home.  Whether it’s Frisbee

at nearby Trinity-Bellwoods Park, or a drink with friends, he appreciates the convenience of his current location.

“I love my neighbourhood,” he states. “It’s one of the reasons I’m so happy here. You see all kinds of people walking around and you rarely hear English being spoken.” Since he’s fluent in both English and Spanish, Ruben rarely had difficult understanding.

Indeed, with a potpourri of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi and many other languages, a walk around the block in the area for Ruben can feel more like a trip around the world. And despite being far from the warm climate of Venezuela, he says he really does feel at home in Canada and plans to establish roots here.  At Ryerson, he made many friends with whom he is still close and he even joined a Latin American MBA Association, which helps students and professionals from that part of the world network in their adopted country.

Multicultural, multilingual and multi-talented, Ruben Campos has forged multiple paths to a happy life.  Whether he’s picking out a song on his guitar, or pulling out a nugget of insight from a customer database, EA’s musician-turned-engineer-turned-analyst is sure to be playing the right tune.

 

–Jack DePoe

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Written by Environics Analytics

November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

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