David has spent his working life in business technology, yet classes himself an engineer first and foremost. Here he discusses his career path from university through to becoming an IET Fellow.
Oracle is a large, innovative global software company and my current role in it is to head up License Management Services for Western Europe. I help customers overcome costs and complexities associated with license management, so that they maximise their investment with Oracle.
I graduated in 1990 from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen as an electrical engineer. I’ve spent my working life in business technology, yet I’ll always be an engineer.
Upon graduating, I took a path into software development through financial services, at Logica in London. I gained some great international customer experience in the Middle East and picked up knowledge of retail and point-of-sale activity along the way.
My next step was into process management in the oil and gas industry, at Amec. My work in software analysis in the supply chain business led to Oracle, then a supplier. From there, I actually joined Oracle, where I’ve been for the last two decades in various roles – from pre-sales to front-end business requirements and consulting to international work. Before I moved into my current role, I was able to set up a technology group called Insight, translating core business requirements into technological capabilities.
Oracle is a very exciting business. It’s like starting a new job every three years. We’ve acquired over 120 companies in the past six or seven years. One of the biggest challenges I face is the pace of change. Ten years ago, who knew anything about social media, mobile, big data or the cloud, Gigabytes on mobile phones! Such pace produces more complex business challenges for companies to handle. How do you keep the competitive edge.
Fortunately, Oracle supports you very strongly through personal development. It’s good for me, as a person committed to develop and learn new things. In 2007, I did my Chartered Engineering qualification.
Becoming a Fellow of the IET appealed to me when I discovered more about the institution’s ethos. It fits very much with what we’re trying to do here at Oracle. It’s a great opportunity to get external certification, learn more, build a professional network among over 100,000 people and contribute back into engineering.
I’m still working through all the possibilities of what to do with my Fellowship status. I’ll certainly continue developing my skills as a manager and leader. As a mentor and mentee, I’d be very keen to involve myself that way. You’re always learning. That’s the very nature of engineering and technology. You’re looking to innovate, find new ways to solve complex problems. It makes you inquisitive.
I find that engineers and technologists are respected for this in the big companies. They absolutely get the value. The business world now is under constant, rapid change. The way the marketplace has changed in the past 5 years is staggering. More and more businesses are realising the need to put technology in the middle of core business opportunities. To do that, you need engineers and technologists – people who are great innovators and can support transformation. Engineers are a key part of the skill set of the Board room. So, there’s still a tremendous future opportunity for ‘core’ engineers.
I’m an engineer with 24 years of experience as a technologist. I’ve always got my engineering roots to fall back on. Yes, as an engineer, you’re expected to know the answers. You build yourself a reputation around detail. That can be a good and bad thing. The key to success is making sure you can convey complexity simply. When you can, it’s really rewarding and the CEO likes you.