Director of Marketing for Mentor
Degree Course: Engineering & Management
Year of Graduation 1994
University of Paisley
Tell us about your time at the University
I had a blast at Paisley, the student union was legendary (called the Buroo then), and met a bunch of lifelong friends. I was local, so knew the place from friend’s big brothers and so on. Seemed like the logical place to go. Have so many great memories of crazy parties, all night study for exams and playing in bands in pubs around town. Not to mention the old George Street flats, with outside toilets 🙂 Good times, and I’ll always be grateful for the kick-start I got at Paisley, the lecturers were great even although I tried their patience many times, and Paisley is a pretty unique place.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
Went to start work at Motorola Semiconductor (now NXP) in East Kilbride, starting just a week after graduation even though I wanted a long summer of lazing around. Moved to Paris in France in 2000, then moved to Freescale corporate HQ in Austin Texas, 2006, to lead the development of microprocessors for automotive systems. Currently Director of Marketing for Mentor, a Siemens business, that develops software and hardware systems for connected, autonomous and electric vehicles, a really hot tech area right now. My honours year I did my project on advanced manufacturing and how to change organisations, and my advisor lecturer had a lot of industry experience. He told me many times: “when you start work, the only rule is keep your direct boss happy, nothing else matters”. That stays with me and was invaluable advice. It doesn’t mean always agreeing with your boss, or even liking them, but it does mean don’t ever go to war with your boss. Because you will lose. And I have seen many people mess up careers because they didn’t like their boss and from that created a personal battle.
If you could offer one piece of advice or top tip to current students what would it be?
What does your new boss expect from you when you turn up on day 1 after graduation? She/he knows that you don’t yet understand the corporate environment or internal politics, but that is a good thing. Here’s why. Bringing a fresh perspective and challenging existing norms is the value that new grads bring. To make yourself valuable, question everything. Companies are constantly reinventing themselves and old ideas lag new strategy and direction. Look for ways to change things. Speak out, ask why, and once you get some perspective offer alternatives. Think about “what does the absolute ultimate solution to this problem look like” and then chart a path to it. Most average-performers try to make things a little bit better, or worse, keep them the same as yesterday. Don’t be average. Think big. Big picture wins over small details every time. Dive in and try new things, don’t stand back. Be a bit gallus and balance that with humility and a desire to learn from everyone you interact with. Put time on everyone’s calendar for 1-1 learning meetings, and ask questions to everyone. Be like an information sponge and absorb as much as you can. Then your instinct and intuition will eventually kick in, and you can make connections between different problems and offer broad big picture perspectives. Don’t get lost in process details, the process is there only to allow good ideas to form, if the process doesn’t allow that, suggest it needs to be changed. If you think something doesn’t make sense, then it probably doesn’t, so don’t be passive. Take action. If you try 10 things and only 3 of them work, that’s a good return. Then try another 10 things. The cumulative effect will be that eventually you will change the world.
What is that drives you on in your professional life?
I work in technology, so everything is constantly changing. I like change and new challenges. Being the person that finds opportunities in this chaos is what drives me on.