Michael Carney, director of R&D at PTC Ireland
Michael Carney, director of R&D at PTC Ireland. Image: PTC Ireland

PTC R&D director: There’s never a dull moment in technology

19 Sep 2017

A tech career can be one of the most exciting careers around. Just ask PTC’s R&D director, Michael Carney.

With so much change in the working world, tech seems to be one of the fastest-growing industries around.

A talent shortage means that those looking for a job in tech are in luck. But, just because the jobs are there, doesn’t mean the road to success isn’t paved with struggles and hard work.

Luckily, those further on can shine a light on how they got to where they are now, and send the ladder back down to budding new techies with sound advice from years of experience.

Michael Carney is the director of R&D at PTC Ireland. Here, he talks us through his journey to his own career in tech and what he learned along the way.

What first stirred your interest in a career in technology?

I was surrounded by electronic tools and books at an early age because my dad was into engineering and technology.

I followed his lead though gravitating towards the software side. Technology has changed a lot since he started.

What education and other jobs led you to the role you now have?

I started with a physics degree but decided to do something that was more hands-on, so I moved to electrical engineering. I worked my way through college running a graduate student’s fusion experiment and repairing computers.

Then, I moved from there to working in a college computing centre, supporting the locally created software. I worked on operating systems and tools for several hardware companies and picked up an MBA degree along the way.

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

As I gained experience in my career, I found it required the input of many people to help satisfy the complex needs of customers.

I had to be sure to understand what I knew and what I didn’t know, then find experts that could tell me how to fill the gaps.

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

I have been fortunate to have worked for quite a few good managers over my career. A good manager is one that listens and assists while still allowing the freedom to let me work issues in my own way.

Much of finding a fulfilling job is finding that good manager; it is a relationship that requires effort and commitment but the benefits are significant.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Continuous learning: There is always something new in technology – never a dull moment.

Teamwork: As a team, there is so much more that can be accomplished when delivering a product to customers. There is also more satisfaction in that shared accomplishment. And it is much more fun.

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

Persistent curiosity about how things work and trying to understand the underlying principles of just about everything.

Maths and science were high on my list from an early age. Richard Feynman is one of my heroes.

How did PTC support you on your career path?

PTC has an extensive technical track that helps develop and retain great technical talent.

Being able to move between the management track and technical track provides great flexibility. It doesn’t have to be a one-time decision.

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

Have a passion for your work. The market for talent is competitive and those that are most interested, most fulfilled by the work, are more likely to succeed.

Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to take chances and try new things. Even unsuccessful projects contain lessons for the next project.

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