His passion for technology first developed when he taught himself digital electronics and programming while at secondary school.
He then built his first computer from scratch – a trial-by-error experiment that involved assembling individual chips, reading countless datasheets, and, upon connecting to power, witnessing smoke engulfing the machine. An operator system of sorts and even a floppy disk eventually emerged. The learning was more important than the outcome.
Now, he’s turned his love of technology into a successful career that has included numerous leadership roles at global enterprises and scaling startups.
Meet Simon Copsey, JRNI’s chief technology officer, who oversees our technology and product strategy and leads the development, engineering, and product teams.
We connected with Simon to learn more about his outstanding career, vision for the JRNI platform, personal interests, and more.
You’re an accomplished technology executive with more than 30 years of experience working with global brands and burgeoning startups. Give us an overview of your professional career.
It’s been an enormously enjoyable journey. I started in engineering, software, and project delivery for BBC News and Current Affairs. Later, I worked as a solution architect on the launch of the digital platform for Sky, a British telecommunications company. There, we debuted the world’s first interactive TV ad with Domino’s.
Following that opportunity, I worked for a startup that created enhanced TV apps, where I served in various capacities. I then returned to the BBC to build and launch its iPlayer, its internet-streaming service, working with Red Bee Media to turn a fabulous vision into reality. It’s a privilege to work on a major public launch and hearing people talking about it on the streets; it provides a rare level of connectivity with end users.
After the iPlayer launch, I worked for another startup that developed mobile solutions predominantly for broadcasters. As vice president of engineering, I launched mobile apps for CNN and the National Basketball Association in the U.S. and the first video on-demand mobile service in China. A couple of years later, OpenText acquired the company, which threw us into the deep end of mobile enabling for the hundreds of products they offered.
After what I call my “enterprise immersion,” I caught the startup bug again and became chief technology officer at a company in the hospitality industry, where I delivered mobile and tablet apps for luxury hotels. Luxury hospitality takes customer focus to the next level. When paying many thousands per night, guests expected every experience to be exemplary.
That opportunity was followed by numerous other vice president roles, including one at Import.io, an utterly fabulous business doing web scraping at scale. Unfortunately, the company relocated to the U.S. not too long after I joined, so it was a brief stint.
And that brings you to your latest role, working as chief technology officer at JRNI. You joined us about three months ago – what attracted you to JRNI?
It was clear from my very first interactions with the JRNI team that there was a fantastic culture and a team utterly aligned behind the founder’s vision. Everyone was excited about the future. I’ll always choose working in a business with exciting challenges and a thirst for growth and change over one that just wants to crank the handle and keep producing the same old stuff year after year.
As chief technology officer, what are some exciting projects that you’re leading?
Where to start! When working across both retail and banking sectors, you need to be cloud agnostic. There are many ways to achieve this; however, it’s always a challenge.
Successful startups know not to roll out their own solutions if viable ones already exist. When I first used Amazon, for example, it only had about four services in its control panel. Now, I’ve lost count. Many startups, including JRNI, have taken advantage of some of Amazon’s excellent-yet-bespoke cloud services.
Charting the path of least resistance between a tightly coupled cloud solution and a cloud-agnostic solution is one of the many exciting challenges I’m leading.
Our mission is to help our customers create exceptional experiences for their customers. How do you see us evolving the JRNI platform to address our customers’ goals in their ever-changing industries?
It’s all about extensibility. Rarely do two customers have the exact same requirements. To deliver remarkable customer experiences and maximize the value of those experiences, we need to adapt to our customers’ requirements without distorting our core proposition.
That’s been the driver behind our extensibility framework; it makes pretty much anything possible. With an extensibility foundation in place, it’s all about the tools, ease of use, learning materials, and automation.
If you could describe JRNI and its technology in one word, what would it be, and why?
Inspiring. There are so many opportunities for creating new capabilities through our platform, and in doing so, more and more value for clients. It’s inspiring for me, personally, because I love transforming fast moving startups.
What aspect of technology do you enjoy the most?
The fact it never stays still. It constantly presents new capabilities, opportunities, and challenges. It’s impossible to know everything but it’s fun trying.
Most recently, I’ve been playing with the NVidia Jetson Nano. A fabulous little computer; a little more expensive than a Raspberry Pi. It has real CUDA cores, which may not mean much to many people, but essentially, it has the ability to run the same functions in parallel as if you owned hundreds or thousands of machines. This type of processing is at the heart of machine learning and many other computationally expensive technologies.
Working in any dynamic and high-growth technology business is going to be exciting. It’s guaranteed to keep you on your toes and necessitates continuous innovation. Solving problems with technology and delivering great experiences is at the heart of what makes me tick.
For people seeking to step into technology leadership roles, what’s some advice that you can share with them?
Successfully moving up means staying out of the weeds, being comfortable with knowing less detail, and trusting others to do your previous job. You must share your knowledge and experience, enable and empower others, and never do someone’s job for them. Always feed those who are curious and encourage those who aren’t.
Most importantly, leaders must ensure that everyone has equal voices. It isn’t only the loudest people in the room who have good ideas. Embracing multiculturalism in all of its forms is critical for innovation.
Different people bring different perspectives to the table, and the more perspectives that contribute to your decision-making process, the greater the probability that you’ll uncover winning ideas.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Spend time with my family, learn, and make stuff.
What’s the best journey that you’ve taken in your life?
Becoming a father to my beautiful daughter. I wouldn’t trade the journey of parenthood for anything else.
What’s the most interesting fact about yourself?
I used to play unicycle hockey.
Interested in working alongside Simon and the rest of the JRNI team? Check out our current open roles and #jointhejrni!