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How to be hired by world-leading innovators

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22 February 2022

Jessica Tulp has been riding a tidal wave of industry innovation. While studying towards her biotechnology degree, she made incremental connections and achievements that showcased an entrepreneurial outlook and aptitude. She has already developed substantial experience in cutting-edge industries including New Zealand’s emerging space industry and is now diving head-first into the metaverse with AI humanisation company Soul Machines. 

At university, Jessica studied towards a Bachelor of Technology. She says “By the time I reached the end of my university degree I had discovered that research and life in a lab were not for me, and since entering the workforce I’ve been much more focussed on the business side of hi-tech science and tech companies.” While at university Jessica had the opportunity to explore those interests and skills through extra-curricular involvement with student-led groups such as science enterprise organisation Chiasma as well as Velocity, the entrepreneurship development programme run in partnership with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Chiasma was a big part of Jessica’s life at university, and she was on the committee for two years, finishing her time with Chiasma as Chief Operating Officer. Alongside this, the Velocity programme taught her key lessons in how to take a seed of an idea, build it into something viable, and create a compelling pitch. 

Jessica looked for inspiration and opportunity to inform her career and saw it in CEO of space company Rocket Lab, Peter Beck. After seeing Peter speak at a University event, Jessica saw a job advertised through a university careers email. The job was Personal Assistant to Peter Beck – a job that Jessica would never have thought to search for – but after hearing him speak, and thinking that she might like to start a business of her own one day, she says she “ jumped on the opportunity to get to know Pete and see first-hand how he worked to build Rocket Lab into something amazing.”

Peter Beck saw Jessica’s capability and potential and gave her opportunities to build upon her experience. She says “Pete was always incredibly open and supportive of me taking on any projects that I thought were interesting. Rocket Lab was less than a hundred people when I joined and very ‘all hands on deck’, so it was an amazing opportunity to learn at a rapid pace and take on anything thrown my way. Highlights include kicking off an education team and a scholarship programme for the local community in Mahia, setting up a merchandise store, travelling to the U.S for space conferences, seeing the first two launches leave the pad from mission control, and fueling my inner space nerd every day through conversations with incredible colleagues. I learnt so much in my time there and am forever grateful.”

Networking and finding communities to be a part of has been an important part of Jessica’s career progression. She says “Looking back it is true that most of the opportunities I’ve had have come through contacts and networking, or seeing an opportunity and thinking ‘how can I make that work for what I’m looking for’ and then giving it a go. My advice is that the worst somebody can say is no – and then you’re not any worse off than you were before, so why not take a chance! I pride myself on building strong connections with people and being genuinely interested in getting to know everybody that I work with and meet along the way. Relationship-building is everything for me, and I’ve found that those relationships are key in getting a foot in the door. Being kind, polite, interested and genuine will go a long way.”

Jessica is now Chief of Staff at Soul Machines. She says “Soul Machines has levelled up by business education and responsibilities, and I’ve learnt so much in the three years I’ve been here.” The Chief of Staff role is varied, and she works closely with Chief Business Officer Greg Cross to keep the executive team running smoothly, make sure company goals are aligned, and resolve any problems behind the scene, as and when they come up. She loves the fast-paced nature of the role which keeps things interesting day-to-day.

Soul Machines creates digital people experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Yumi – a Digital Skincare Consultant for SK-11, Ruth – a Digital Cookie Coach for Nestlé, Florence – a Digital Healthcare Worker for the World Health Organisation, and many more. This digital workforce continues to grow, and with Soul Machines’ recently announced US$70 million Series B1 funding round there will be some rapid expansion over the coming months.

The digital workforce and the metaverse are still new concepts to many. Jessica explains “The metaverse is basically a 3D virtual world, where people can interact, share experiences, hold meetings, watch live music, go shopping, play games…anything you can imagine really! We’re seeing the metaverse become rapidly more mainstream with companies launching virtual stores, launching NFT collections, staging virtual performances and so much more. I imagine there will be explosive growth over the next year.” 

Jessica remarks that “Soul Machines sits in a great position as global brands embrace such a digital world. With their core Digital Brain technology enabling the autonomous animation of characters, bringing them to life in real time, the potential for growth is huge and there are a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing in the coming months.”

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

22 February 2022

Jessica Tulp has been riding a tidal wave of industry innovation. While studying towards her biotechnology degree, she made incremental connections and achievements that showcased an entrepreneurial outlook and aptitude. She has already developed substantial experience in cutting-edge industries including New Zealand’s emerging space industry and is now diving head-first into the metaverse with AI humanisation company Soul Machines. 

At university, Jessica studied towards a Bachelor of Technology. She says “By the time I reached the end of my university degree I had discovered that research and life in a lab were not for me, and since entering the workforce I’ve been much more focussed on the business side of hi-tech science and tech companies.” While at university Jessica had the opportunity to explore those interests and skills through extra-curricular involvement with student-led groups such as science enterprise organisation Chiasma as well as Velocity, the entrepreneurship development programme run in partnership with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Chiasma was a big part of Jessica’s life at university, and she was on the committee for two years, finishing her time with Chiasma as Chief Operating Officer. Alongside this, the Velocity programme taught her key lessons in how to take a seed of an idea, build it into something viable, and create a compelling pitch. 

Jessica looked for inspiration and opportunity to inform her career and saw it in CEO of space company Rocket Lab, Peter Beck. After seeing Peter speak at a University event, Jessica saw a job advertised through a university careers email. The job was Personal Assistant to Peter Beck – a job that Jessica would never have thought to search for – but after hearing him speak, and thinking that she might like to start a business of her own one day, she says she “ jumped on the opportunity to get to know Pete and see first-hand how he worked to build Rocket Lab into something amazing.”

Peter Beck saw Jessica’s capability and potential and gave her opportunities to build upon her experience. She says “Pete was always incredibly open and supportive of me taking on any projects that I thought were interesting. Rocket Lab was less than a hundred people when I joined and very ‘all hands on deck’, so it was an amazing opportunity to learn at a rapid pace and take on anything thrown my way. Highlights include kicking off an education team and a scholarship programme for the local community in Mahia, setting up a merchandise store, travelling to the U.S for space conferences, seeing the first two launches leave the pad from mission control, and fueling my inner space nerd every day through conversations with incredible colleagues. I learnt so much in my time there and am forever grateful.”

Networking and finding communities to be a part of has been an important part of Jessica’s career progression. She says “Looking back it is true that most of the opportunities I’ve had have come through contacts and networking, or seeing an opportunity and thinking ‘how can I make that work for what I’m looking for’ and then giving it a go. My advice is that the worst somebody can say is no – and then you’re not any worse off than you were before, so why not take a chance! I pride myself on building strong connections with people and being genuinely interested in getting to know everybody that I work with and meet along the way. Relationship-building is everything for me, and I’ve found that those relationships are key in getting a foot in the door. Being kind, polite, interested and genuine will go a long way.”

Jessica is now Chief of Staff at Soul Machines. She says “Soul Machines has levelled up by business education and responsibilities, and I’ve learnt so much in the three years I’ve been here.” The Chief of Staff role is varied, and she works closely with Chief Business Officer Greg Cross to keep the executive team running smoothly, make sure company goals are aligned, and resolve any problems behind the scene, as and when they come up. She loves the fast-paced nature of the role which keeps things interesting day-to-day.

Soul Machines creates digital people experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Yumi – a Digital Skincare Consultant for SK-11, Ruth – a Digital Cookie Coach for Nestlé, Florence – a Digital Healthcare Worker for the World Health Organisation, and many more. This digital workforce continues to grow, and with Soul Machines’ recently announced US$70 million Series B1 funding round there will be some rapid expansion over the coming months.

The digital workforce and the metaverse are still new concepts to many. Jessica explains “The metaverse is basically a 3D virtual world, where people can interact, share experiences, hold meetings, watch live music, go shopping, play games…anything you can imagine really! We’re seeing the metaverse become rapidly more mainstream with companies launching virtual stores, launching NFT collections, staging virtual performances and so much more. I imagine there will be explosive growth over the next year.” 

Jessica remarks that “Soul Machines sits in a great position as global brands embrace such a digital world. With their core Digital Brain technology enabling the autonomous animation of characters, bringing them to life in real time, the potential for growth is huge and there are a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing in the coming months.”


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