Steve Barriault - Latest Blog

By: 
Steve Barriault

April 07, 2017

Well, here you have it. 2017 is the year when we can finally stop explaining to people that, no, we cannot sell them CANoe because they reached out to the "wrong" Vector. We still cannot sell CANoe, but hey, we are now part of the Vector family so even if "we" cannot help, "our bigger we" can. Isn't it easier? :)

And our marching orders coming from the new owners is quite clear: we expand. We will go where no other tool like ours went before. Pretty exciting time. That applies to Asia too, so I went right back on the road and piled up some serious mileage to do some engineering work that coincidentally took on a whole new meaning with the merger. For example, new client in Fujian with a board that doesn't have a lot of memory. But then it has a CAN port, and CANoe and CANtest. So, why not use that port to get the integration going? With some client help, this was done. So, unit testing and CAN goes hand in hand. And we have other technical synergies just like this coming up, so please stay tuned.

Unfortunately, what I was not able to figure out so far is the science between self-replication (admittedly I did not try very hard because, let's admit it, having several Steve Barriaults roam the Earth is a scary thought). And I can start seeing some smoke coming out of my team's ears, as the beginning of the year has been particularly busy (good job BTW!). Which brings me to a very down-to-earth topic: my team is to expand. Yep, the International Manage Force (IMF, for short) needs a few good engineers (and sales) to augment our team.

How many and where? Wouldn't our competitors love to know this (:-P). 

Still, I had to give it some thought. What do we need? Sure, a degree, the ability to program if an engineer, some previous relevant experience, all of this is required. But that is the type of information that you can find on any job website for almost any job. However, being a FAE or a sale in our industry and in our company is not just any job, it is in many aspects a vocation.

Here are some of the common points I found in my team over the years.

- A high level of curiosity: When you engage a discussion or you scope work, you will (almost) always have to face things that you never had to before. That technical environment may have just a strange compiler version, or a debugger no one heard of, or a port that is just odd. I once did an integration in Korea on a "back-end" port with the wire dangling curiously from the power cord (a very powerful port indeed!).

My point here is that there is no way you will know everything you need to know at all times. That is just impossible. What is possible, though, is through intense curiosity and smarts to learn what you need to do to deliver the goods in the end.

That also extends to business development personnel. How can you sell something if you do not understand what are the needs of the prospect? Cannot do this without a keen sense of interest for what our customers do. Fortunately, it is relatively easy, because our customers engage in really, really cool stuff! Self-driving vehicle systems out of India? Check! Signaling for complex train systems in China? Check! A really mysterious unit aboard a civilian plane that does-something-but-we-don't-know-what-because-it-is-because-this-is-a-company-secret from Japan? Check that too!

- A sense of adventure: Just as important, team members must share a sense of mission and a thirst for firsts at all times. With the wonderful world out there and the great diversity in Asia, this is very much required. For instance, you may find yourself living in the same Tokyo hotel where Godzilla himself was breathing fresh air on the deck! Don't believe me? Just take a look at this picture, ye of little faith!

More seriously, my traveling team members get to go to places that are sometimes off the beaten path. I once went to an auto manufacturing facility where you had to enter through a tunnel portal that enabled you to go through a small mountain, giving the office an eerie smell of mystery. And of course, there is the food - lots of different types of food, cooked, very much cooked, raw and almost alive! Don't worry - eating the last one is NOT a requirement of the job. But enjoying the diversity of the world, relishing visiting unique places during down times in foreign lands (such as this cozy street in Tokyo) and, yes, confronting the occasional quirks in life that come with travel with a sense of excitement can make the difference between enjoying your job or being miserable at it!

- A hacker mentality: No, I am not suggesting here that you need to plant a virus on someone's computer as part of our technical prowess test. But for any technical or indeed sales objective there are multiple ways to achieve the ultimate goal, and it is important to know when to change tack. The way you thought you could get VectorCAST to work on a specific system turns to be impossible, or sub-optimal? Is there a different way to do it? Most of the time there is. Recognize it and go for it.

What if it still doesn't work? I like to remind myself of a book that told the story of a pilot from Quebec that had to land his Airbus that ran out of gas mid-flight (everyone survived, albeit the wheels of the plane became square-shaped by the less-than-comfortable landing). The guy learned his trade landing on small, snowy/icy strips in Eastern Quebec. Older pilots were telling him "when in trouble, make a decision and try. If that doesn't work, make another one and try again." Now, fortunately, no physical harm will result in you making the wrong decision. But in my experience, that type of patient approach to a problem is needed.

I would also admit to you it applies to business development as well. No one can expect pre-cognition. But try hard, and when things don't work, change tack and try again. This is the hacker mentality: with smarts and sweat you will figure it out.

- Client successes are our successes too: In the best situations, we become trusted advisors to our clients. We help them deliver wonders to the world. And we take pride in that. Because, yes, it is cool to be the good guys and gals that make this world a better place. Software is increasingly everywhere so as to make planes, cars, medical devices, even white goods ever more efficient and safe. But all that software won't test itself. This is where we come in.

Interested? Send your resume to jobs@vectorcast.com and mention what job you are looking for. It will find its way to me.

You can even score more points on the interview if you can let me know for sure what this thing is all about. Because I read Chinese (and Japanese, because yep, that is what it is here, even if this was from a Walmart in Beijing), I guess that this is something honey-related, but I never heard of a drink called "bick" that is supposed to "rich my taste," and neither did Google Translate. Please help!