Spotlight: Oscar De Mello

In the spotlight this week we have Oscar De Mello, Head of Commercial and Innovation at Cognisess.

Where did you work before Cognisess? 

I worked at the University of Bath as a commercial and innovation manager for CAMERA; a large research centre that specialises in machine learning and computer vision techniques for the entertainment industry. We also researched and developed new solutions for the health and rehabilitation marketplace. 

It was an exciting role because I was in between industry and academia, brokering new partnerships to enable them to work together to create new innovative products and services. I was responsible for writing grant bids to develop new projects and grow the centre and I’m pleased to say that during my time there, I brought in a significant amount of funding. I also created a commercial team to deliver motion capture services to the industry. It gave students work experience opportunities and allowed them to learn new techniques and technologies. 

What attracted you to Cognisess?  

I met Chris Butt (Cognisess’ CEO) and Boris Altemeyer (Cognisess’ Chief Scientific Officer) when they came into CAMERA to discuss computer vision techniques to track micro-expressions on people’s faces. It led to a collaborative bid.

We got on well and I was excited by the product and their energy. Later, Chris asked me to join the company and it was just too good to say no!

Chris had successfully guided the company through the start-up phase and was looking to pull together a senior leadership team. I came on board to lead the client accounts and revenue side of the business in May 2019 and I haven’t come up for air since.

It’s really exciting to work for a company at this stage of its growth. When I joined, Cognisess was beginning its scale-up phase. I had a great opportunity to shape things and am proud to have a significant impact on the business’s direction. 

I was attracted to the fact we have a fantastic in house R&D team. The team’s expertise includes data science, psychology and neuroscience. Companies of this size don’t typically have this resource and it offers the opportunity to drive something genuinely innovative! 

What do you do in your spare time? 

I have a 5-year-old and a 10-month-old and they occupy most of my free time. I also have a springer spaniel called Donut who is 9 years-old and is wonderful, but a little hectic sometimes!

The kids keep me busy. However, when I do have some time to myself, I love playing and watching sport. I’ve been playing the guitar since I was a kid too, and have been (very slowly) trying to learn the piano. It’s not going well!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I love to cook.  I find it relaxing and it’s my anecdote to any stress. My favourite food to cook is a curry. I’m actually half Burmese. My surname, De Mello, is of Burmese origin. Growing up there was always a curry being made in the kitchen, and my Grandma was the queen of the Curry Puff! If you don’t know what that is I advise to look it up and have a go!

Currently, what is the biggest challenge clients are coming to us for and how can our platform provide a solution for this?

One of the biggest hiring challenges is diversity. You can understand the diversity within a talent pool in two ways: Firstly, there is diversity based on gender, age and ethnicity. Secondly, there is diversity of thought, which is just as important and often overlooked. There is plenty of occupational psychology literature that evidences that having more diversity in the way people think and interact leads to greater productivity, creativity and innovation in companies and it’s a core focus for Cognisess.

It’s a difficult challenge to assess cognitive and social diversity, but we are one of the world’s leading solution providers. 

What’s your drink of choice?

I’m partial to a glass of malbec or a rioja.  

What is your favourite type of music? 

I’m a massive Radiohead fan, much to my wife’s dismay. I also like rock and indie music. Boris, our Chief Scientific Officer, and I share a love for a bit of vinyl. I love listening to old R&B from the 40s, 50s and 60s. 

Are there any platform features which clients are surprised to find when they sign up?

It’s usually the granularity we offer in general, and our team analysis feature gets a lot of attention. I think when companies begin to use our platform they know we’re going to be an excellent solution for recruitment, however, what they don’t always know is that our software can track incoming employees over a number of years and visualise how they impact on the team they sit in.

With this information, leaders can make more informed decisions about team composition and align them to the objectives that the team is driving towards, like a group project. This capability is not commonplace in the market, and people are usually surprised with the level of detail and insights we can offer them. 

What’s your favourite part of the platform? 

The games! (My favourite is Mondial.) The data and insight we gather from them is fantastic and unparalleled in terms of what we can tell a business about its people. Ultimately, the primary aspect that draws people in is the games. When people try out the games at events the professional veneer that they’ve been holding slips and they start to get competitive. I think watching people enjoy the games is the most engaging part of what we do.  

What do you think makes us stand out from our competitors? 

Simply put, we are the most comprehensive solution on the market. We are a single solution for your talent requirements, whether that be talent retention or attraction. No one offers to the same depth in assessment, survey and team analysis solution.