Jeff Hoefer ’80 grew up in Binghamton, N.Y., and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from SUNY Oswego. After graduation, his interests led him to pursue employment in California as a model maker, which launched a career spanning 38 years in Silicon Valley.
As the computer made its way into everyday tasks, his occupation focused on computer-aided design (CAD). Beginning with Atari Inc. and Lunar Design for 19 years, he then joined the Apple Industrial Design team in 2005, spending 10 years creating products from the first iPhone to the iWatch, now known as Apple Watch.
Jeff joined Google four years ago, and presently heads up the Digital Imaging Group for Brand Marketing and Hardware in Mountain View, Calif. Throughout his profession he has collaborated on over 1,500 projects in product design, movies and the gaming industry.
His experiences over these years have taught him the high value and power of visualization, starting at the early stages of product development, and how to leverage those assets through to packaging and marketing of products, he said. A model of the SUNY Oswego campus that Jeff built in 1979 still adorns one of the walls of Hewitt Union, giving credence, he said, to a valuable start on his future.
He returned to campus last May to deliver the Commencement address at the School of Education and School of Communication, Media and the Arts ceremony.
“Personality and communication are the skills that get you hired,” he told graduates. “Be a great listener. Be humble … Be kind. Just say hello and smile. Small gestures like this can lead to amazing opportunities. Just be kind. It’s so simple. Being kind and caring about people also make you a natural leader.”
He also advised graduates to be patient as life’s path is filled with many twists and turns.
“You’re only as good as the last thing you work on,” he said.
“Or to quote Steve Jobs, ‘Stay hungry.’ And reinvent yourself.”