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Tim Parsons, chief innovation and operating officer, Quickflix

Byron Connolly | Nov. 28, 2012
It's quite plausible that Tim Parsons is the only Australian technology specialist who can lay claim to being part of a research team that has helped improve safety for spacecraft re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

"You don't have to accelerate halfway to Mars and then have all this propellant to slow down [the vehicle] at the other end -- you actually use the atmosphere and the aerobrake.

"You could send men and women to Mars and they could aerobrake when they get there and come back and aerobrake to Earth -- which had a massive impact on mission cost."

A hunger for business

Despite his background in aerospace research, he chose to pursue a career in IT and as an academic, he had very little knowledge about the business world.

"The culture of aerospace at that time -- when you're not involved in it you imagine how incredible it must be -- the reality was that it wasn't a great time to be in aerospace," he says.

"It was giant waterfall projects, you were going to be a small cog in a gigantic machine. At the time, it [aerospace] was all big companies and very institutionalised. I looked at the internet world: it was Altavista, Yahoo and Google.

"I thought I would get stuck [in aerospace]. I was at British Aerospace for a while and I saw how incredible the people were because of their knowledge and what they could do -- they could have done a moon shot but the impetus was not there.

"I came back to Sydney, I didn't really want to get a job in research -- I'd done my dash there. The interesting problems were online with new technologies."



I've been everywhere man

A quick glance at Parson's LinkedIn page reveals he has spent the best part of 20 years establishing small digital agencies, developing websites, producing media projects, and eventually leading technology and business strategy at various organisations.

During a five-month stint as a presenter and co-writer at BBC Horizon Films, he co-wrote and presented the one-hour documentary Cyberpunks & Technophobes, which attracted about 1 million viewers.

He joined Spike Wireless in 1996 as creative applications director, the company's fourth employee. He then moved into digital agency land for several years as vice president at Insentiv Media in Tokyo, managing director at Oven Digital, strategy director at Profero Sydney and director of digital and convergence at The One Centre.

"The theme that runs all the way through is digital media and technology," he says. "In my career, I was on the client side and then I discovered startups, which is a very patchy and fragmented [industry]."

He moved into his first CIO role at Global Digital Networks, where he spent two years, before establishing creative production company Sugar (disbanded in 2009), and working as a consultant for Pollenizer, a company that works with startups.


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