1. What is your name?
2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
I am the CEO of O.C.E. Technology, an Irish company setup to deliver integrated circuits, software, training and services to clients developing real-time systems for the aeronautics and aerospace industries. We work with customers in Europe and Asia to customise their products for the fast-growing commercial satellite market.
3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
There have been a few: selection of subjects at school, college courses, discovery that I liked computer programming for real-time engineering applications, move to management, joined first of five startups as a director and part owner… throughout following decisions that made me happy at work rather than higher pay!
4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My second boss and a man with whom I worked on and off over many years called Chris Fairclough. Chris always took the time to teach less experienced staff about engineering principles. A few companies were setup on the back of Chris’s ideas some of which were ahead of their time e.g. quantum cryptographic products.
5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
As CEO I get involved I all activities of the company e.g. design, sales & operations. I get to travel around the world and at present have a good work-life balance.
6. How did you go about getting your current job?
My old boss called me when there was the opportunity to setup the company. It’s great to work with people you like, know, and trust.
7. Describe a typical day
It usually goes something like this; 6:25 alarm, 7:30 arrive work, answer overnight emails from Asia, talk to engineers about project progress, and address sales issues. Lunch is at 12:45, followed by a card game with the team. 14:00 discuss new designs, plan tradeshows, press releases, and check finances. 18:00 Leave for home 18:45 TV, read science fiction, watch sport, skype grandchildren.
8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Keep all the balls in the air! Keeps sales coming in, ensure no technical issues with new designs, monitor contract commitments, check finances, and try to keep everyone happy and productive.
9. What are the main challenges?
The main challenge for our new company selling to the conservative space is to convince customers of product quality and reliability and company stability as the projects can span 10 years.
10. What’s cool?
It’s cool to be part of an industry where next generation satellite designs and applications will contribute positively to the lives to future generations.
11. Whats not so cool?
Ensuring long-term reliable products involves a lot of hum-drum testing and documentation
12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Good judgement of people, lots of experience in new software and hardware designs, widely travelled selling and marketing high tech products.
13. What subjects did you take in school?
Maths, English, Irish, French, Latin, Physics, Chemistry, Biology. The science subjects helped my understanding of engineering principles. German would have been more useful as we did more business there over the years.
14. What is your education to date?
UCD Engineering (dropped out after 6 months), DIT applied Sciences (dropped out after 6 months), FAS (now Solas) 6-month training in computer programming, UK Council of Engineering night degree, Stanford R&D management course.
15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The FAS 6-month training course got me started on my career. All the other courses provided knowledge to assess technical challenges in new designs.
16. Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
The intention to study something new is present but home reading of new subjects is more likely.
17. What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
The use of some leaving cert mathematics in a new test product that became a standard in the magnetic media industry and sold many millions over a 10 year period in the 1980s.
18. What personal qualities do you have that help you in your career?
Calm, curious, good with people and like to understand and solve problems, where possible. Maybe not ambitious enough!
19. What is your dream job?
My current job is the best one I’ve had so far. I’d like to have €10M to setup a new company and develop a new product for a larger market.
20. What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Study something that interests you. Pick the best college for the subject (that is affordable to your circumstances). If you are working at something that you like the money will take care of itself.
21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for this job?
Technical expertise, interest in the area, and determination to find solutions to customer problems.
22. What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Hardware and software development with state-of-the-art tools.