To continue with our Meet the Team series, we sat down with Jen Fenner, DefProc’s Co-Founder and Managing Director! As a creative visionary, Jen is leading the way for innovative engineering solutions.
Let’s learn about Jen’s journey and what she enjoys about her role at DefProc.
What does your role involve? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
As Managing Director, my role revolves around planning DefProc’s future, looking for new opportunities and working out how to make the most of them. My responsibilities focus on managing the day-to-day running of the company and ensuring everything is running smoothly.
How did you know you wanted to run an innovation company?
My love of design has always pointed me towards innovation. Even when I was young, pursuing creative ideas was a source of inspiration for me. I think the pursuit of creativity, combined with finding a problem to solve, is what I enjoy most about my role at DefProc. The first project Pat (our Head of Engineering) and I collaborated on was an art installation on a “Breath of Air”.
Before DefProc, I worked as a print technician for LJMU, had a separate business designing laser-cut books, held screen printing workshops, and had my own creative practice. The collaboration with Pat allowed me to see the potential of fusing engineering with creative design. I would come up with the ‘mad’ ideas while Pat would tell me how logistically impractical they were! This dynamic ultimately became Pat as the Head Engineer and me as Managing Director.
How did you start your career in design?
I studied multimedia textile design at Loughborough University, so I suppose that was my starting point. It was a strange degree in that I wasn’t taught traditional skills associated with textile design. There was a focus on coming up with your own processes and using your own materials, experimenting with what worked and what did not. I think my degree has fed well into my position at DefProc. My design experience was based on coming up with new ideas and concepts and attempting to do what hadn’t been done already. At DefProc, we take a similar approach. There’s a lot of experimentation, research and investigation involved while still maintaining that creative element.
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
It has to be Push to Talk. It’s a project that has been incredibly challenging but also incredibly rewarding. The aim of Push to Talk was to create something that would make a difference in people’s lives, and I think we’ve achieved that. Everyone has responded positively, and it’s nice knowing that all our hard work has paid off. We met loads of new people throughout the project, which impacted me personally and professionally. I’m also pleased with how the new branding for Push to Talk looks – I can’t wait to show it off!
What would be your ideal project to work on?
I would love to create a big, interactive, creative project. Something along the lines of the River of Light trail along Liverpool’s waterfront at the moment; it looks fantastic. Or maybe something intricate and complex – I love a challenge!
What has been your proudest achievement working with DefProc?
I’d say growing our company from being just Pat and myself to having a small team working for us. I’m also proud that we’ve created a business that helps so many people transform their ideas into something innovative while we get to work on solving problems. Being able to grow and adapt, especially during the pandemic, is a massive achievement for me!
What are your future goals, both for yourself and the company?
At the moment, the future feels unpredictable with the supply chain problems and the continuing pandemic. However, I do hold a lot of hope for the future of DefProc. This year, we have worked on some fantastic projects that I can’t wait to share, and we have some exciting work coming up for a big creative project for early 2022 and some exciting work involving fish! The long-term goal for DefProc is to continue to improve our innovation team’s capabilities to work with bigger brands and to see the expansion of Push to Talk as a service to new locations across the UK.
On a personal level, I have just bought my first house. It is an old arts and crafts house, and a renovation project is something that I have always wanted to do! It already has LoRaWAN sensors to monitor the humidity to prevent damp patches.
Who is your favourite modern inventor and why?
Hedy Lamar is one of the most iconic women inventors of the 20th Century. Although she is most known as a beautiful actress, she invented an early form of Wi-Fi. Lamar created a frequency hopping system but wasn’t taken seriously because of expectations surrounding her acting career. Lamar also worked with Howard Hughes, helping him with his aeroplane designs, and from there, the list goes on of things that she contributed. She was incredibly bright, and I wish more people knew how brilliant she was away from the cinema screen.