New PPA Business Manager Eager to Enable Science at SLAC

June 12, 2012

For most of his 17 years working at Apple, Jim Malone managed the finances of the software research and development groups that created the operating systems for the company’s computers (OS X) and iPhone (iOS) and its productivity software, such as iNote and Keynote.

“That’s when I fell in love with supporting R&D,” Malone said. “I liked working with those smart scientific folks.”

Rekindling those sorts of interactions was one of Malone’s top reasons for joining SLAC last week as the business manager for the Particle Physics and Astrophysics (PPA) Directorate.

“I didn’t write any code,” Malone said. “But it was pretty cool to be the financial manager for the people that developed iOS.” His challenges at Apple included managing all of the financial planning and controls – from headcount to expenses – for his group, which quintupled in size in just three years, and supporting the creation of huge server farms to handle Siri voice-recognition queries from iPhones worldwide.

The challenges of technical innovation are nothing new to Malone. Except for a short stint in Hong Kong when he was very young, Malone grew up in nearby Saratoga, steeped in the vitality of the early days of Silicon Valley. His father, Joe, was a personnel manager for the pioneering Silicon Valley chip companies Fairchild Semiconductor and National Semiconductor during their heydays.

Malone traces his interest in finance back to “a couple of really good economics teachers” at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. “I enjoyed the complex analytical aspects of economics – especially the dynamics of markets, consumer behavior and pricing,” he said.

His first job – a three-year stint as financial analyst for the influential market research firm, Dataquest – gave him broad experience in the financial budgeting, planning, accounting, consolidation and reporting involved in high-tech companies. Malone then spent a total of six years at three Silicon Valley computer companies – Silicon Graphics, Amdahl and Hitachi Data Systems – before joining Apple’s Imaging Department in 1995.

That group developed displays, printers and scanners and included a few “skunk works” projects, such as the QuickTake digital camera. By 1997, however, Apple was trying to recover from severe financial difficulties and decided to cut many imaging efforts. The tight fiscal controls and focus on goals imposed at that time served both Apple and Malone well over subsequent years.

“They don’t throw money around,” he said. “I enjoyed the challenge of achieving lofty goals with limited funds.”

After 17 years at Apple, however, Malone decided earlier this year that it was time for a change. “I want to learn something different and work in a new environment,” he said.

Now he’s looking forward to applying his financial skills toward enabling the success of PPA’s science projects, such as the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the next-generation version of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment.

“I’ve always had the greatest respect for the scientific achievements made at SLAC and Stanford,” he said. “I’m delighted to have the chance to help PPA researchers create the new instruments and experiments that will be used to make future scientific discoveries.”

“The business manager is crucial to coordinating all of the service and financial activities both within PPA and with the rest of the laboratory,” said David MacFarlane, PPA director. “I look forward to working with Jim as he brings a fresh perspective and extensive experience to this important job.”