The team here at TechnoBuffalo recently decided that we wanted to give the industry a voice. In some cases, we think it could be really cool if members of the industry – such as executives at tech firms that build the gadgets you’re holding – spoke out to you, leveled with you, and gave you a more personal look into how they operate. We reached out to HTC to kick it off, and the company’s senior manager of global products, JB McRee, decided to help get us started.
With McRee, we asked how he ended up at his position with HTC. Hopefully you find some value in these sort of stories, and let us know in the comments if you have any ideas on where you’d like to see this headed. Without further ado, the following text was written entirely by JB McRee and discusses how he found his way to HTC and what kept him inspired along the way.
I grew up with toys, ones that every boy dreams about, from go-carts and dirt bikes to a fully restored Jeep CJ5. My obsession with speed and fascination with how things work were directly influenced by my father’s competitive cycling. When he wasn’t on a bike training or racing, he was building one from scratch or riding with his friends, who happened to consist mostly of physicians. What came to really affect me were our bumps and bruises from all of the adventures we had together. As painful as the injuries were, it was through these mishaps that I got to witness how a body works, and through my dad’s friends and cycling buddies, how a body could be fixed. My fascination with science and medicine grew and consumed me.
I decided to attend Auburn University (War Eagle!) and chose to major in Biology, a path that would get me one step closer to the medical degree that I so desired. I quickly learned that science came naturally to me, and like my father, I had a talent for repairing and reengineering just about anything. It was because of this that I quickly earned the nickname “MacGyver.”
During my sophomore year, I brought three friends over to my parents’ house to visit. That evening we hiked up to the ridge that was blessed with the best rock outcroppings anyone could hope for. The views of the city below were phenomenal. As we were taking in the stunning view, I lost my footing and fell backwards off of a 43-foot cliff. I remember opening my eyes, having no idea how much time had passed. I tried to get up but soon realized that I was pinned beneath a fallen tree. I could hear my friends calling my name in the distance. I mustered enough energy to pull out my cell phone and flipped it open, hoping that the backlit display would help my friends find me. I woke up again in the ER, surrounded by machines and tear-filled faces. The experience was traumatizing, and the following months of physical therapy were grueling. I learned a great deal about myself, including my determination and ability to recoup, and that my passion for medicine was no more.
I returned to Auburn the next year and changed my major to Business Administration with a concentration in Logistics. It was a subject furthest from Biology and yet, the idea of streamlining and maximizing efficiencies was captivating. After graduation I landed a job as a dispatcher for a concrete pumping company, where I helped build infrastructure and processes, but the work and environment were not for me. Next, I took on the role of Patient Educator for dental implants and procedures in Atlanta. I was mesmerized by the entire industry, one that I had no idea existed. After two years, I learned everything I could there. I wanted to do something I was passionate about.
In 2009, a close friend called with news that he landed a job at HTC in California. I was unaware at the time that HTC was the behind-the-scenes designer and manufacturer of the phone I was holding in my hand. After a bit of research I discovered that HTC had a rich heritage of innovative “firsts”: the company created the first Microsoft-powered smartphone in 2002, the first Microsoft 3G phone in 2005, and in 2007 introduced the HTC Touch, a touch and gesture-powered experience that changed the way people used their fingers forever.
A few months later, my friend informed me about a field marketing opportunity with HTC based in Southern California. I interviewed and a few days later I was offered the job. I packed up everything that my car could hold and drove 2,000 miles to what seemed like the other side of the world. I had never taken such a risk, and was concerned about leaving friends, family and familiarity behind. I was lucky – it was a risk well taken.
In Southern California, I worked as a field marketing representative covering 75+ retail stores in Los Angeles. My job was simple: establish and maintain healthy rapport with the reps and managers in my region and share as much as I could about the brand and its products. I look back and realize this was one of the greatest building blocks in my career: The challenge of a new city, a new job and realizing my ability to teach and motivate others.
After seven months of working in the field, I was offered a marketing role at HTC America’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA, just outside Seattle. I can’t say that it was easy for me to leave behind the sun and waves and move to rainy Washington, but when I thought about how much I thrived on the work I was doing, there was only one answer.
Here I am three years later and going strong. Every day is different, but there is only one goal: to deliver great design and an amazing user experience to HTC’s customers. Technology is always evolving and at a faster pace than ever before. What matters most is when someone picks up an HTC phone and they connect on an emotional level, because really, our phones are now a part of us, a reflection of who we are, our style, and approach to life. The HTC One is doing just that. Our design team challenged engineers to think about the smartphone experience in a new light. And because of that challenge, we were able to deliver stunning design, unsurpassed quality and a reinvigorating experience – the essence of HTC.
I now know my passion and embrace it fully: Innovation. When I wanted to be a doctor, I was drawn to the innovation behind medicine. When I pursued logistics, I wanted to innovate to drive efficiency. When I worked in patient education, I learned that innovation is alive in all industries. I tasted that innovation while working in Los Angeles and pursued it all the way to the Pacific Northwest. I had my doubts and fears with each step I took, and all of them were worth the sleepless nights and every single move, from Alabama to Atlanta to Los Angeles to Seattle. Find your passion and make it yours.