ITA Spotlight: Eric Okunevich, Product Manager, OnePlus Systems
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Eric Okunevich, Product Manager, OnePlus Systems
I’ve once been called, cool but not very useful…Seriously though, I’ve been called data geek, a tech nerd, a marketing guru and an iconoclast wannabe, but you can call me Eric. I love to explore the world where data, technology and art intersect.
Chicagoan by birth or relocation?
If you relocated, what brought you to Chicago?
I was born in New York, grew up in New Jersey and Michigan prior to moving to Chicagoland for High School. I went to Michigan State University prior to coming back to Chicago where I have been ever since.
How did you come to work with OnePlus Systems?
I was a Manager of Business Analytics for an Association and was looking to get back into Product Management.
What about OnePlus Systems was appealing?
What initially drove me to the opportunity to OnePlus System was the intersection of Product Management, Technology and Data, three things that interest me along with three of my strengths. I also know that the future is the Internet of Things (IoT) and am excited to be involved in this growing and exciting field.
What other roles have you held in the industry? How did they lead you to where you are now?
Technology is everywhere and I’ve been circling the technology industry for years now, being heavily involved in data and analytics along with coming up with technology solutions for training and development.
Out of all the positions you've held, which one is the most interesting?
Besides OnePlus Systems, the most interesting was my time at the National Safety Council as the Product Manager of Workplace Training. Working for a non-profit whose mission is to save lives and prevent injuries is a noble and rewarding job.
What do you like most about what you do?
I love to solve problems and being on the cutting edge of technology let’s me be creative; while still being firmly grounded in the data analytics world I come from.
Which achievement at OnePlus Systems are you most proud of?
I’ve only be in the position for 3 months, but I’m very excited about the product road map we are developing. Without giving too much away, we are really going to start leveraging a more data driven and analytical approach to environmental services.
What’s your outlook on the local tech industry?
I’m very excited about the local tech industry, we have a great mixture of big tech companies, small start-ups and traditional Fortune 500 companies that are leveraging technology in an interesting way. Chicago is a very dynamic tech community and although it might not have the cache of Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, I wouldn’t sleep on the talent and passion in the Windy City.
What do you think are the top issues facing the Illinois tech community?
Keeping talent in Chicago is always an issue, especially young talent.
What did you want to be when you were in kindergarten?
I don’t think I wanted to be anything in kindergarten, I was more interested in cartoons and playing outside. But when I got older I wanted to be an Oceanographer or an Attorney (or more to the point my parent’s wanted me to be an attorney). I went to school for Public Policy and Economics.
What is the hardest challenge that you’ve faced on your professional journey?
I’ve worked for some very conservative companies who didn’t really embrace change. Eventually they had to change but there was some friction in the short term. It is one of the reasons I love working for OnePlus Systems and the technology industry, embrace change!
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
Not to take things too seriously. Although it is important to take pride in your work, it isn’t life or death.
What success are you most proud of?
I recently gave a presentation at an analytics conference in Nashville, TN in front of 300+ professional discussing a predictive model that I built that has a 90+% accuracy in determining the likelihood that someone is likely to renew their membership in an industry association.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My first boss at Tribune Direct Marketing was probably my greatest influence. She really taught me how to be a professional.
What is the one thing that keeps you up at night?
My parents are Jewish and Catholic, so, guilt…
What kind of technology could you not live without?
I know it is cliché, but I’m sadly addicted to my Google Pixel phone. I use it as pocket computer, navigation for my car and podcast player.
What is the coolest thing you’ve developed or project you’ve worked on?
I helped develop an online training program that used “Adaptive Learning” which is a program where the curriculum changes based upon how you answer. It is this cutting-edge program that uses Machine Learning, simple AI and more traditional instructional design. Really cool stuff…
If money was no object, what would your dream job be?
I really like learning about new things and creative ways that technology solve problems; but Project Manager of a IoT company feels like a copout, so let’s say VC investor in new Technologies.
This one is all you! Tell us anything. Any topic at all.
Working for OnePlus Systems is really exciting; it is not very often you get to work for a company with this type of potential and culture. And to get in during the beginning of this amazing growth potential is a once in a lifetime opportunity.