Hey everybody, we’re back with another edition of our new LinkedIn To Callaway Series where we profile some of the coolest jobs at our Company. This time around, we’re talking to Norm Smith, our Sr. Director of Global Engineering.
What’s it like to work in such a fast-paced environment? And how does his engineering team approach a new product from start to finish? Whatever the question, Norm’s got a great answer.
“It’s interesting to take an idea and actually make it, and then a few months later you’ll go into a golf store and see it on the shelf.”
1. Norm, What Are Your Team’s Specific Objectives?
Norm Smith: Let’s start with the big picture, what our team does is we take an idea or concept for a golf club or other golf product – whether it’s a drawing or something that someone’s put together – and we try to figure out how to make a few hundred thousand of those.
2. How Does Your Team Generally Approach A New Idea Or Product?
NS: We’ll start first with a logo concept with our R&D Team, and then refine that based on what’s actually possible to manufacture. They push us in order to make sure that we’re getting as much performance as we can get.
Then we work with our suppliers, which is a lot of what our team does, in order to make it happen. Sometimes we’re developing new ways to make things, sometimes we’re taking processes and methods that already exist and refine them to make them better.
Then we go out and test them, not the product but the actual manufacturing process to make them. So then parts come in and that’s when the really fun part begins, because you’re testing real product. It’s interesting to take an idea and actually make it, and then a few months later you’ll go into a golf store and see it on the shelf.
3. What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
NS: It’s taking that idea and making it a reality, and seeing how something that you helped make actually helps people that play golf. I travel a lot, and a few weeks ago I was traveling and I was wearing my Callaway colors, and this guy came up to me and asked, “Do you work for Callaway?”
And after I said yes he told me “I just bought your X2 Hot Fairway Woods and they’re the best thing ever!” And to have people come up and tell you that your product, your club is the best thing ever, how cool is that?
People are passionate about our products and our team is passionate about our products too. It’s nice to be able to take that passion and then give it to players who really enjoy it and they can use it.
4. What does it take to be a successful employee on your team?
NS: It’s a fast-paced environment – we’re trying to get product in peoples’ hands as quickly as we can, so you need to be able to work quickly.
You obviously need to have a lot of technical skills, and a lot of the job revolves around watching and evaluating and improving how our clubs are made, so we need people that are willing to roll up their sleeves and dive in and make things better.
You have to care and you have to take pride in what you’re doing. And being passionate about golf helps too.
5. Speaking of that, did you have a golf background when you started working here?
NS: Well, I’ve been here about 16 years and when I first got here I played golf maybe a few times a year, and it’s because I didn’t play that they brought me out here for fresh eyes. Since I’ve been here, I’ve played a lot more and I’m a mid-handicapper, but I actually think that helps me want to make products that help people even more, because it helps me directly.
6. Why should an engineer be excited about the opportunity to work at Callaway?
NS: You get to use skills that you presumably enjoy using because that’s the career you chose along with your hobby. So you’re doing everything that you love and they call it work, but heck it’s fun. It’s a great group and you’re working with people who are passionate just like you and you get to work on very cool products.
In fact, we have an opening on the team now. Editor’s Note: You can view the description for this Sr. Product Engineer opening on LinkedIn.