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SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA), the North American arm of SoftBank Robotics, announced the appointment of six senior officials.
“These individuals have created tremendous value at SBRA as we continue to make great progress in developing, scaling and commercializing collaborative robotics solutions,” Brady Watkins, general manager and senior vice president of SBRA, said. “I am excited to be adding to our senior leadership team and look forward to continuing to work with each of them closely in their new role.”
Previously the director of strategic growth, Katya Akudovich will now serve as SBRA’s vice president of new business and strategic growth. Akudovich joined SBRA in 2019, and previously held positions at Panda Doc, Recharge labs, LiveJournal and Google.
Naoki Mikoshiba is SBRA’s newest senior vice president of corporate management and operations. In the position he’ll be overseeing finance, accounting, fleet operations, project management and legal. Mikoshiba joined the company in 2016.
SBRA’s Senior Director of Finance Bee Bee Nie will serve at the vice president of finance and accounting. Nie joined the company in 2020, and has over 18 years of experience in finance. She previously held positions at Volansi, Ellie Mae and GoPro.
Jordan Sun will serve as the company’s vice president of product, design and engineering. Sun joined the company this year as the head of product, design and engineering. Before joining SBRA, Sun was the chief innovation officer for the city of San José.
Dianna Wilusz was appointed as the vice president of people experience and operations. Wilusz joined SBRA in 2020 as the senior director of human resources. Wilusz is also the CEO and founder of the Pendolino Group, a business consulting firm.
The final appointment SBRA made was Karen Wood-Maris as vice president of revenue operations and customer experiences. Wood-Maris will oversee revenue growth across sales, marking and production operations. She joined the company in 2020.
2021 was a difficult year for SoftBank’s robotics business. In June, SoftBank Robotics Europe laid off 40% of its employees in Paris. An employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Robot Report at the time that “the market for Nao and Pepper is smaller than we expected.” The source also said SoftBank wouldn’t be focusing on the Nao and Pepper robots much going forward.
Then in April 2022, German distributor United Robotics Group acquired SoftBank Robotics Europe. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. SoftBank Robotics Europe will revert to its original name, Aldebaran, which it used prior to being acquired by SoftBank.
SoftBank’s flagship robot is Whiz, a commercial robot vacuum. SoftBank has recently made other changes to its robotics strategy, notably offloading 80% of its ownership stake in Boston Dynamics to Hyundai for $880 million. It also paid $2.8 billion for a 40% ownership stake in AutoStore, a leading developer of automated storage and retrieval systems.
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