A headshot of a woman smiling at the camera. She is Maria Butler from Intel.
Maria Butler. Image: Intel

It’s important not to let yourself get bored in engineering

5 Oct 2022

Intel’s Maria Butler discusses the challenge of letting go of a project that has been stopped and shares her advice for those starting out on their tech career journey.

Maria Butler is a cloud software engineering manager at Intel. She has a degree in computer engineering from University of Limerick and a master’s degree in computing from the Open University.

She told SiliconRepublic.com that she loved maths, physics and chemistry in school, so when it came to choosing a university course, she knew she wanted to follow an engineering path.

“We were lucky to have an opportunity in school to do some programming and I had a curiosity in understanding how things work so I decided to study electronic/computer engineering,” she said. “In university, I loved the software components of the course and that led me to a career in software engineering.”

Over the course of her career, Butler has worked in various industries such as utilities, telecoms and finance in a wide range of technical roles.

“I love a technical challenge, enjoy learning and I like working with people. Working as a software engineering manager in Intel gives me these opportunities as I lead a team to deliver software to solve many different networking challenges.”

‘The biggest challenge for me has been when projects that I have been working on were stopped’

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path?

Probably the biggest surprise for me has been how much opportunity there is to shape your own career path.

There are so many options for software engineers to follow, to become technical experts, architects, project managers, product managers or engineering managers. I have been lucky to work in a number of different roles during my career, each challenging me in different ways and all very rewarding.

The biggest challenge for me has been when projects that I have been working on were stopped. Not all projects succeed, there can be many reasons for not making it to market or for discontinuing a project.

It can be very disappointing when you have invested a lot of time and effort in trying to make a project successful. However, I have learned that when this happens, a new challenge and opportunity is always just around the corner.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

I would say my managers have influenced me the most. I have been lucky to work with a lot of very talented managers that have supported and encouraged me throughout my career.

They gave me opportunities to gain a wide variety of technical experience and to grow my leadership and coaching skills. Seeing them in action has led me to want to do the same and to lead and coach others.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love working with people. In my role as a software engineering manager, I lead a team of software engineers and have the privilege of mentoring and coaching them.

It is very rewarding to be able to support the development of engineers. I also get to work with multiple other teams and interact with people with a wide variety of roles.

I love continually learning and my job gives me the opportunity to ramp up on many new technologies and to keep improving my leadership and coaching skills. Every day brings new challenges and variety.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I like working with people, I get on well with others and I care about people. I want my team to achieve results and at the same time ensure that each engineer reaches their full potential and has career progression.

I am curious by nature, I like figuring out how things work, why things happen, how things can be improved, and this gives me the analytical skills needed to understand issues and come up with proposed solutions.

I am very organised and this is a key skill when working in a fast-paced environment with multiple projects being executed in parallel.

How did Intel support you on your career path?

I joined Intel a little over a year ago as a cloud software engineering manager. I have found Intel very supportive for engineering managers. There are a lot of resources available to us such as tools, training and mentoring.

Intel is great for encouraging continual improvement and there is a lot of support and opportunity for career development.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in software engineering?

Be sure to ask for help or advice, be it for technical issues or career options. Listen to all the advice you get. I have found all my peers and managers to be very supportive.

Try to network, talk to others in roles you are interested in or working with technologies you are curious about.

Be curious and keep learning, don’t get bored in a role, keep looking for new challenges.

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