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Adapting to Change – A Drone Service Provider Perspective

Ian Foley

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“They have to be “fluid in the field.”  You could go out there one day and you’re just running the lines, each of your assets right next to each other, or you have to drive an hour to two hours in between each one. So that is what happens, particularly at the end of the scope and scope creep start to happen. You have to drive a little bit more, and then you’re working, sometimes 10 hour days, sometimes six days a week for months.”

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This Week’s Key Question

“How do we lead-the-ship through the fast-changing UAV Landscape?”

This Week’s Guest

Ian Foley is CEO of Pacific Triangle, a drone service provider delivering integrated platforms and end-to-end solutions for commercial applications in geospatial, oil and gas, mining and electrical utility industries.  Ian has demonstrated the ability to form resilient and high-performing teams and to empower workforce intelligence across many projects. Throughout his UAS career, Ian has worked on projects for 3 major Californian and one Texas utility company, and has performed bridge inspections in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Saskatchewan, Canada.  He has completed cell tower inspections in California, staffed helicopter LiDAR, and has upcoming underwater ROV work.

Part 107 certified, Ian has worked his way up the ladder in the UAS industry starting as Visual Observer, then Pilot in Command, Team Leader, and Project Manager, before starting his own business with Pacific Triangle in Carlsbad, CA.  Ian’s experience in the field is an invaluable in directing the efforts of Pacific Triangle.  He is a graduate of the Veterans Institute for Procurement START and INTERNATIONAL programs in Potomac, MD arguably the top training programs for C-level executives of Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.

What We Learn

Ian talks about Pacific Triangle, the drone service provider industry and the challenges and opportunities of starting and leading a new company.  He also provides some insights into his panel presentation at this year’s Commercial UAV Expo on September 6-8, where he’ll be speaking on how to lead-the-ship through the fast-changing UAV landscape.

    Mentioned Links

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    • 04:05  Opening.  Introduction to Ian Foley, CEO of Pacific Triangle, a drone services company based in Carlsbad, California.
    • 04:43 Differentiation. What separates Pacific Triangle from other DSPs is that all of the leadership at at the company came out of the field.  The management knows how to plan missions because they’ve actually been in those situations themselves.
    • 05:37 The Industry Today.  According to Ian, the one word that best describes the drone industry today is, “Changing”.  The industry is ever changing and companies need to be agile and able to adapt quickly.  Ian discusses some of the ways this is done at Pacific Triangle.  He also predicts that Skydio will surpass DJI as the prominent drone platform.
    • 08:17 Adapting to Change.  The ability to develop an agile organization is really the heart of change management. Agile organizations revolved around certain set of chords, where leadership enables action by leveraging flexible resources. Decision-making is transparent and data driven.  The right teams are trained and trusted to anticipate and embrace change. Leadership develops a culture of accountability, and effective communication is emphasized to nurture internal and external relationships. It’s all about relationships.
    • 09:14 Key Success Factors.  Ian believes that the key to his company’s success is understanding what makes a good drone pilot.  As a former drone pilot, he knows what to expect in terms of flying a drone, getting in and out of remote locations and dealing with unexpected situations.
    • 11:49 Transmission Line Inspection.  A considerable amount of Pacific Triangle’s work is inspecting transmission lines.  Ian describes what the drone operators are looking for in collecting data that will be used to prevent wildfires.  Most of the work is conducted in house, but Pacific Triangle does contract out when specialized services are needed.
    • 15:07 Commercial UAV Expo.  The Commercial UAV Expo will be held in Las Vegas on September 6-8.  Ian will be on a panel called, “How to Lead-the-Ship through a fast changing UAV Landscape.  Ian discusses his panel presentation and his thoughts on attending his first Commercial UAV Expo.
    • 20:17 Company History.  Ian tells the story of how Pacific Triangle came to be, and gives his perspective on how things are going today.  (hint –  “it’s not for the weak”).
    • 22:41 Advice to Entrepreneurs.  Ian’s advice to others thinking about starting their own drone services company is get a lot of field knowledge and expand your experience in project management.  Early on, his biggest challenges was finding funding.  Luckily he found some start up grants and business development training.  So look around at local sources of business development programs.
    • 25:21 Closing.  Ian’s final message is to embrace change and know that change is coming.  Do the research, try to predict the trends and position yourself for the future.



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