Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Sol Rogers, Founder of REWIND

By Kitty Knowles 8 June 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. Find out how Rewind CEO Sol Rogers gets the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world.

From The Pool‘s Jo Morrell, to Starling’s Anne Boden and co-founder Brent Hoberman, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Meet Sol Rogers

This morning we’re talking to Sol Rogers, CEO at Britain’s groundbreaking virtual reality studio Rewind.

Rogers founded company in 2011 after 15 years as a university lecturer in ‘Digital Animation, Visual Effects & Emerging Technology’.

His team has gone on to work with tech leaders like Sony and Microsoft, top brands like Red Bull, Jaguar and Nike – you might have even have tried virtual experiences for Bjork’s Stonemilker music video, the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, or Hollywood science fiction film Ghost in Shell.

When he’s not in the office, he’s hosting meet-ups, speaking at international events, and appearing on national television.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asks Rogers how he gets it all done…

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I usually get up at 7am. Playing with my cats, Daisy and Dennis, always gets the day off to a good start, strong coffee helps too!

The studio is a five-minute walk away from home, so I don’t have to deal with commuting nightmares which definitely helps my morning mood.

What smartphone do you have?

iPhone 6s. I spend a lot of time on it, it’s my office in my pocket.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I like having my to-do list on me wherever I go, so Wunderlist is a great app for me.

When I need to get my head down and concentrate, a good playlist and noise cancelling headphones are a must.

I use Sortd – a Gmail plugin- to keep on top of emails and I use Slack for a lot of team and client communication to try and keep my inbox manageable.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

I try and spend some time each day in the office, we currently have over 30 people working at Rewind.

Most days I’ll also have at least one meeting with clients (brands and agencies) or tech partners like Google, HTC and Samsung so a typical day will see me meet between 30 – 50 people.

If I’m running a VR workshop or giving a keynote at a conference then I could meet a couple of hundred people.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

Ready Player One. Set in 2044, it imagines a dystopia where most of its characters live in poverty and see the OASIS, a vast world accessible through virtual reality goggles, as an escape from their true reality.

I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point when there is an alternate virtual world that we all use but I do believe that at some point, some people will spend more time in VR than in the real world.

The book was published in 2011, when credible virtual reality still felt like a distant dream.

It’s amazing to see how far we have come in such a short space of time.

It’s an interesting read for someone like myself working in VR and the liberal sprinkling of geek-friendly 80s pop culture references add to the appeal of the book for me.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

● If you have limited experience build something yourself and put it out there. The quality of your initial work may not be the best, but the commitment to building things and practising in your free time will set you apart and shows you are serious about a career in VR.

● Make connections. Approach companies whose work you admire, if they can’t offer a job perhaps they can offer advice. Joining groups on professional social networks can also help as many VR professionals belong to and network within these groups. REWIND:VR organises VRLO, a meetup for enthusiasts and people working within the industry. It’s a great place to connect with people in the field.

● Start cross-training. Learn more than one skill set. For example, if you are a 3D artist, get training in animation as well.

● Stay up to date on the latest VR trends and technology. Follow the topic on social media, attend webinars, conferences and game jams.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

I often work quite late, but it’s not a hardship to stay late in the office to play with the HoloLens or immerse myself in one of the new VRX (VR experiences) we are developing!

I travel a lot and can quite often be in three or four different countries in one month so my working day is never a 9-5.

I often catch up on emails in the evening and don’t tend to have a wind down routine, I’m always on the go!

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I would like to ask Steve Jobs how he found a way to bring art and technology together, founding not only Apple but also Pixar.

The two companies that have defined my life.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.