Jenni Strabley is the senior director of offering management at global quantum-tech company Quantinuum, which offers quantum computing hardware and software solutions. Founded in 2015, Quantinuum unites Cambridge Quantum’s software with Honeywell Quantum Solutions’ high-performing trapped-ion hardware.
What skills do you use every day in your job?
The key skill I use on a daily basis is critical thinking. No matter the issue – whether it’s developing a strategy, working out how to structure a problem or deciding what we should work on next or how to respond to a request for information – it all requires thinking ahead and looking at things from multiple angles. Indeed, in my view, critical thinking is something that scientists are very skilled at. The same basic critical thinking skills that helped you solve textbook quantum-mechanics problems can be repurposed and applied to solving business problems and setting business strategies. That’s one thing I try to do, use those critical-thinking skills as widely and diversely as I can.
What do you like best and least about your job?
The bit I like the most is the pace at which things move – the quantum sphere is currently moving like a bullet train. Every day it seems like there is something new going on, and that’s certainly the case within Quantinuum. It is now a bigger company and there are exciting new developments all the time. So the fast pace, while very challenging, is also a lot of fun to keep up with.
On the flip side, the thing I probably like the least is, once more, the pace of it all! Sometimes, because of all the significant things happening around you, you struggle to find the time to do some of the smaller, more simple tasks. Everything from reading an e-mail to recognizing someone for their work can get side-tracked, and often these are things that you need to do, but they get overcome by all the larger projects. So I definitely wish I had more time.
What do you know today that you wish you knew when you were starting out in your career?
I think one thing in my career I have perhaps done a bit differently to others is that I have branched out from very hard-core physics problems into other areas that have more of a business focus. Thinking back to when I was a student, that would have seemed highly unlikely, almost impossible. Such a route may not have even seemed interesting to me at that time; I simply didn’t know there were exciting and interesting careers outside the lab or beyond detailed technical work. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have good mentors and received the right careers advice that helped me look at alternative paths. A combination of critical thinking and my technical physics skills offered me a unique angle for some of these roles.