Amira Global is celebrating its Members, new and old. Today we shine the spotlight on Sentient, speaking with CEO Doug Bester in Perth, Australia.

Q1. What would you like the Amira community to know about your business?

Sentient is a software development company specialising in powerful and immersive virtual reality training, 3D visualisations, process control and automation solutions for the mining and resources sectors.

We have leveraged the rich environment of the gaming industry to create virtual interactive environments for complex and challenging assets. For example, we can help you solve an issue with a value on the flare stack of an oil platform from the office using gaming technology. The result – when you arrive on site you know where the issue is and how to fix it. Our service saves time and money and eliminates risk.

Our strengths are in collaboration and innovation. If the Amira Global community is looking to try something different or experiment with the technology with which we work, we are worth considering.

Q2. What is the problem that, if solved, would make the biggest difference in our industry?

We need a different type of worker. We are automating at pace and we need a to embrace the new generation coming through who do not want – or need to be – on site. They understand digital environments and data in a way we cannot, and we can empower, impact, and motivate that workforce.

Q3. What do you think are the greatest challenges to successful collaboration and how can they be overcome?

I think the greatest challenge to innovation is risk aversion and IP (intellectual property). IP can bring innovation, sharing and collaboration to a standstill. For successful collaboration, people need to be able to work around the constraints of the T&Cs in the supply chain.

To succeed, you also need to work in an agile environment. You must be able to pivot. In fact, the best results we have had were when our client let us explore discoveries during the development process.  Innovation does not work if you must deliver what you said you would deliver. It is hard to transform the way you work if you take that approach.

Q4. Innovation has its origins in addressing challenges or leveraging R&D – what are your success stories?

We have not leveraged R&D; our innovation has come from leveraging technology from different industries. For example, taking technology from the gaming space into the resource sector.

Our success stories? We have multi-million-dollar virtual training programs with Tier 1 companies, we employ over 40 people in Perth, and we are creating an environment to upskill a new generation. We also employ people well. Our working environment is a success story, with core hours between 10am and 3pm and a workforce comprising Gen Y, Millennials, and heavy-duty gamers. Our philosophy is that by creating an organisation where people enjoy coming to work, and are passionate about what they are doing, we are able to build better products for our customers.

Q5. From whom do you drawn your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration as to how Sentient has evolved is from my children and my employees. They have said ‘it’s okay you can work differently’.

I find the younger generation inspirational; my son has questioned why he should take direction from me when our generation has a poor track record on environment and economic management, diversity, and gender equity. I think it is inspirational that the younger generation challenges the status quo and are not as deferential to authority and existing work methods as I am. I try to listen to them and give them the opportunity to improve on our legacy.