Apple's Novak Goes from Shop To Corporate Leader
He found that partner in Sean Novak, a young chemical engineer who was hired by Anoplate out of Syracuse University to help meet customers’ rigid finishing specifications in the aerospace, defense, electronics, medical and optics industries.
“He hiked with me for four or five years, and I never would have become a Forty-Sixer if it wasn’t for Sean pushing and pursuing me to do it,” says Stevenson, Anoplate’s vice president of technology, who completed his 46 peaks and hiked with Sean as he finished his goal.
When they would reach the summit, Stevenson says Novak and he would spend time resting and talking about life’s more important journeys.
“Sean would always talk about his dream job, which was to be an engineering manager, travelling internationally and have eight or nine people working for him,” he says. “It was just talk, but you could see he was someday going to reach that.”
Three years later, Novak has reached the apex of his career (so far) as manager of the surface finishing team at Apple Inc., a Cupertino, California-based conglomerate that designs, develops and sells consumer electronics, software and online services.
Novak, a member of Products Finishing’s inaugural look at the top 40 Under 40 in the finishing industry, leads a team of 11 engineers specializing in the anodizing and plating of enclosures, connectors and internal components for Apple products, including the iPhone, laptops and computers, iPads and, most recently, the Watch.
His group recently developed a series of novel processes for anodized finishes for Apple’s new colors and custom alloys, including the first cosmetic 7000-series aluminum housing for the Apple Watch that was met with rave reviews across the globe.
“Apple has a lot of surface finishing challenges because we deal a lot with metals,” Novak says. “The transition has been from injection molded plastics to anodized aluminum products pretty much across the board.”