Game Changer: Diego Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer, White Glacier
Diego Jacobson is the Chief Executive Officer for White Glacier and one of our February/March Game Changers. Mr. Jacobson also happens to be the chief designer of White Glacier’s renowned immersion suits. He got his start in the defence industry in 1988 when one of his first jobs was as the Government liaison for White Glacier. An ability to continuously think outside the box and a razor-sharp focus on survival have been the driving factors behind his compliance shattering product. White Glacier is pushing the boundaries of Immersion suits and is intent on doing the same for other marine safety products and consumer goods.
How did you start out in this industry and how has it brought you to where you are today?
I started in the defense industry in 1988 and one of my first jobs was as the Government liaison for the company. The company had just been awarded a large contract for Chemical Protective suits and the technical data package was deficient and needed to be corrected in order for the contract to be performed. We needed to correct the discrepancies between the specifications and patterns and have the government make the changes expeditiously.
This and other experiences over the years have prepared me for my approach to designing and certifying our immersion suits and “thinking outside the box” in that process.
What is your role at your organization today?
I am the CEO and chief designer of our suits.
What was your most challenging moment?
Our most challenging moments have been with the certification process and resolving each issue as it presents itself. Failure has never been an option. We had a large order and had already begun the production process with significant investment on our side before the certification was complete.
What was your A-HA moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader?
Changing the focus from compliance with the regulations to survival was instrumental in the design of our immersion suit. It allowed us to focus on comfort, eating, and drinking rather than just floating with the cheapest configuration that would comply with the regulations. These factors have a significant impact on survivability of a subject immersed in cold water.
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
I don’t understand how Polar certificates continue to be issued counting on the old LSA, six-hour Immersion suits for protection in the Arctic region. Plainly put, a six-hour immersion suit is inadequate for regions where SAR times are 8 hours to 5 days. The Arctic 10+ is proven to withstand Arctic conditions and provide the required hypothermia protection for passengers and crews.
What is the best advice you received?
He wins who endures till the end. Never give up.
What is a habit that contributes to your success?
When solving problems, think outside the box. Get the creativity flowing and don’t be restricted by “that is the way we have always done thing.” I hate when I hear that.
What is your parting piece of advice?
Listen to your costumers. Try to solve problems for them that they do not even know they have. Strive to have the best product or service that the market needs.
What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
Apple, for the most part, has innovated beyond what the market knew it needed.
Questions regarding the organization:
How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?
White Glacier is pushing the boundaries of what an Immersion suits is, and how it can allow you to survive cold water immersion. Not only have we created a suit that is the warmest, most buoyant suit available, but it also provides the ability to access bare hands from within the suit and now allows for ingestion of calories and hydration, performing first aid and bodily functions, and controlling the temperature within the suit. In essence, it acts as a thermally protected, personal life raft. This is a new category in safety equipment.
This is real innovation with the focus on survival.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your industry sector?
It is educating the market as to the availability of this new technology.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
We now innovate on all new items we develop. Thinking outside the box, starting with costumer needs, and finding solutions to their problems.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
Over the next two years we will see the same type of innovation we have used on the Arctic 10+ applies to other marine safety products as well as other consumer goods.