Gimme Five – Peter Rogerson

Peter Rogerson (no relation), worldwide marketing director of Power Integrations, talks to Steve Rogerson in our series of interviews for CIEonline. Rogerson is worldwide director for marcoms and automated channel sales at Power Integrations, which specialises in high-voltage integrated circuits for energy-efficient power conversion.

Rogerson started at the company as director for marcoms in 2008 after working with Power Integrations through the marketing communications agency BWW Communications, then known as Billings Worldwide.

His entrepreneurial spirit was demonstrated early in his career when he ran his own business selling eggs, cheese, bacon and so on, learning along the way valuable business lessons concerning cash flow and competition. He moved into the high-profile publishing world at the UK daily newspaper, The Guardian, working in the commercial property advertising sales market. After several other media roles, Peter joined Findlay Publishing, working on their electronics B2B magazine New Electronics. This led to increased exposure within the international electronics community, and in 1997 he joined what was then the world’s largest business publications group, Reed Elsevier, as publisher of the pan-European electronics magazine, Electronic Product Review, based in Brussels.

In 2001, Peter moved with his family to California to spearhead sales of Reed’s electronics titles in the USA. Later he joined Billings Worldwide to set up its USA operation in California.

Peter is married with three children. He splits his time between Los Gatos, California, and Yosemite National Park, where he lives with his family. A keen sportsman, Peter played squash to a high level and cricket for local teams in the west of England. He is currently driving down his golf handicap. As well as work and sport, Peter has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Monty Python and Terry Pratchett, and can be relied on for restaurant and hotel tips worldwide.

1. For today’s designers to meet ever-tightening design schedules, does something have to give?

This is an interesting point. We see evidence of engineers going through designs without fully understanding the requirements. Some have very fast turnarounds, such as in the LED market. If you have more integration, you have fewer components, which simplifies the design. But it is real pressure out there. We are seeing more reliance on FAEs, even with the major OEMs and ODMs, to remove some of the stress by helping them with their designs. But by putting more into the chips, there is a whole bundle of things that they don’t have to do.

2. How easy was it to make the transition from external PR to working in-house for a company?

I worked as Power Integrations’ external PR for a while, and I knew 100 per cent of 10 per cent of the marcom role. We only got involved in a small percentage of what happened. So there was a big learning curve. When it came to things like setting up multilingual web sites and automated marketing systems, it was a big learning curve.

I also had to try to understand enough of the technology, which was hard given I wasn’t an engineer. My highest level of education was as a physicist, and that gave me some grasp of the fundamentals. And I’ve worked with various electronics editors, and they gave me a good grounding and understanding. And to produce accurate PR, you have to dig deep and understand the key features.

The people here though really understand the technology and communicate it in good English, and that has helped a lot.

3. Is energy efficiency just a fad or something engineers will now always have to live with?

Absolutely, they will always have to live with it. The standards that are being set produce some real challenges for engineers. We try to understand the requirements ahead of the curve and provide the engineers with what they need.

There has been a change though in the last couple of years. Two years ago it was a challenge to engineers, but now customers also see it as a marketing tool for their products. We can produce circuits for TVs that mean the standby current is effectively zero compared with a few years ago. Flat-screen TVs used to consume 300W when running and that is now down to 80W. The big manufacturers see that as a differentiator in their markets. There are huge power savings that are happening and people are making purchasing decisions based on that. Our customers are seeing it as a driver as much as a challenge, so they are pushing engineers to go beyond what the regulations are asking.

4. Cheese shops or dead parrots, what’s you favourite Monty Python sketch and why?

The one that gets used most in my household is from the Life of Brian where John Cleese as a centurion catches Brian writing graffiti and starts to correct his grammar. “Conjugate the verb ‘to go’,” he says. That whole sketch is used a lot in my house. Some French teachers here in Northern California use it in their lessons. But Python, Pratchett, I love using other people’s funny words. It is easier than making them up. Life of Brian gets pulled out of the cupboard whenever there is a bad day; it always makes me smile.

5. Power Integrations has grown past its small power niche through acquisition. How easy is it to implement the company’s quality message across a more diverse portfolio?

It is not only by acquisition, we have diversified our own products to a wider power portfolio. We have acquired companies as well. This has pushed us up to much higher powers. But the philosophies behind all the companies have been the same, which is simplifying designs, maximising efficiency, but also it is the quality and longevity of the device. If you are producing a high-end refrigerator, you don’t want returns. You want solar arrays to last years without failure. We wouldn’t look at an acquisition that didn’t share most of our philosophies. There has to be a core understanding of values.

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