Robert thrives in a fast-paced start-up environment.
Robert R. Urbaniak graduated from the master’s programme in Integrated Product Design in 2016. He is now based in Silicon Valley where he works for the start-up Nimble.
Hi Robert, where are you working at the moment?
I currently work as a Product Manager at a Silicon Valley start-up called Nimble. I’ve actually spent the past four years since completing my studies at KTH bouncing around between different start-ups here in the area. At Nimble we are the first company ever that partners with existing 'brick and mortar' pharmacies and helps them increase their value offering to patients by offering things live with same day delivery, scheduling in-store pickup, and handling payment collection and processing. We are only a 20-person team but are experiencing some really exciting growth at the moment.
What can a regular day look like at your job?
My favourite part about my role, and about working in start-ups, is that every day is different. I might spend my morning working with the engineering team about inflight projects, then meet with various company stakeholders throughout the day, and spend the afternoon working with our design team on new features and flows for our products. Throw in a healthy amount of chaos, change, and uncertainty and you have a good idea of what my typical day looks like. It's fast-paced, exciting, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else at the moment.
Have you worked with anything else since you graduated?
While working on my thesis assignment at KTH, I discovered how much I wanted to work with innovative technology products. The entrepreneurial nature of the programme really motivated me to want to join a start-up and be a part of a team growing something from the ground up. So since graduating, I have primarily focused on building and developing exciting products in a start-up environment.
Why did you choose this programme at KTH?
Having had a few years of work experience after completing my bachelor’s in engineering in the US, I had a good idea of the direction I wanted my career to take. I was looking for a programme that would complement my previous education, and work experience to engineering to help me build my knowledge around business strategy, entrepreneurship, design, and the freedom to explore other topics of interest. The courses offered for this programme, along with the background of the faculty, really made this programme seem like a good fit for me.
Are there any insights you acquired during the studies that have been extra useful for you in your career?
Unlike my previous courses in the US, which had occasional group work required for projects, my programme at KTH relied heavily on group work. As a result, this helped me build up my ability to collaborate on complex projects with a diverse group. Which is ultimately what working in a start-up is like, especially with a small group trying to get big things done and disrupt any given industry.
What were the best aspects of your studies at KTH?
Hands down, the best aspect of studying at KTH was all of the people I got to meet, and the friends I made. I knew when I chose to study at KTH that I would get to meet and become friends with a lot of Swedish students, but what I was pleasantly surprised by is the diversity of the school. I had the opportunity to meet, and work with so many people from around the world that it truly felt like a global program. I met some great friends who I am still in contact with today, and who even came and visited me in the US recently.
What is your best memory from your time at the university?
Working on my master’s thesis with my partner, Niclas, was one of the major highlights of my time at KTH. We focused our master’s thesis on how companies can leverage technology to generate innovative ideas, which required a fair amount of theoretical knowledge gathering, but also pushed us to interview some really amazing people working in both academia and industry. At the end of the academic work, our master’s thesis sponsor, Googol, helped set up a private event where we got to present our thesis and our findings to an audience of executives and business leaders from around Sweden. It was a very memorable experience.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to stay here in the Silicon Valley for the foreseeable future, and in the not-too-distant future launch my own start-up. I would also love the opportunity to mentor new college grads or young entrepreneurs who are thinking about following a similar career path.
What would you want to say to a student thinking of applying for this programme?
Absolutely do it! The required courses will be useful, regardless of what you decide to do professionally, and there is enough flexibility in the elective courses that you can find lots of fun topics to explore and find something you are passionate about. The instructors are truly world-class and will push you can help you gain practical knowledge. It really helped set me up for success.