Chief Technology Officer at CoolPlanet
What does your job entail?
It involves making data a valuable input to running industries more efficiently – identifying where the data is, how to capture sensitive data, how to transmit it securely, and how to communicate it to everyone involved. There are elements of security and networking.
My background is IT, not engineering, but I need to understand enough from what the engineers are saying to provide an interface between engineering and IT and software and data.
What keeps you motivated?
The belief in CoolPlanetOS and its ability to address a massive need. Manufacturing businesses can be run incredibly more efficiently with it, and not just from an energy efficiency perspective.
CoolPlanetOS can take the drudge out of certain jobs that are done in a boring and repetitive way, making life easier for people such as plant managers and engineers.
What do you enjoy most about working at CoolPlanet?
The opportunity to use what I have in my academic background (computer science) but in an applied way. I get to use all that stuff and apply it in a real context. I have autonomy as well. The nature of what we do appeals to my innate love of efficiency. I like having things done efficiently. That’s why I have been at CoolPlanet nearly 7 years.
What is the hardest part of your job?
There are several. One of the hardest was the feeling for a long time that there is something hugely valuable in what we can offer in the industrial IoT space, but the frustration and difficulty of getting an industry which has a fair amount of inertia to come along on that journey and see the same potential we see in it. I truly believe our technology is something that can make a big difference in these industrial environments.
The other is how CoolPlanetOS as a software platform can distinguish itself from the engineering services of the company, which for a long time was the mainstay of what we did. That has changed now with the company pivot to being a SaaS business. For many years that was a difficult aspect for me, being heavily involved on the software side but not on the engineering services side.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not a computer scientist anyway. I wasn’t a nerd on a computer. That happened almost by accident. I did a general science degree at UCD with the intention of doing physics, but ultimately focused on computer science. There wasn’t any semesterisation in those days. You got away with doing very little all year, and then there was a panic at the end of the year before the exams. Through less work I ended up with far better marks in computer science than physics.
As a child younger than that, I think I had some sort of aspiration to something a bit more outdoor and hands-on. I was quite into mountaineering, climbing and outdoor sports.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn to be more organised. Don’t take things too seriously, but at the same time, do it properly. I missed out on a mountaineering trip previously as I felt a project was coming up. It turned out I would have been able to do both after all.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am big into hill running. Got into that when the kids were born. I also love endurance sports. I have done several ultra-distance races over the years. The longest one I did was 130km. I typically did them in under 24 hours. Managing eating and digestion is a huge part of it, it’s not just fitness. The 130km was the full length of the Wicklow Way. It took 15 hours. You started at night. Race organisers brought food to different stops along the way so you didn’t have to carry all food and drink with you. I did 120km in the Alps. It was unbelievably hard with the rocky terrain that was treacherous at times. There were a few moments I was thinking why am I doing this.
I’ve limited myself to races under 50km in the last few years. They are more enjoyable as they are over in a few hours. I have also organised cycling trips to various parts of Europe, and badly missed doing that over the last year. I loved the process of finding new places to cycle.
What is your greatest achievement?
Some people might look at the races as a great achievement. To me the races were an indulgence rather than an achievement.