Every Friday we’ll profile a prominent figure from Australia’s IT, telecommunications or video gaming industries in the Friday Five.
Raul Vera is an engineering manager at Google’s Australia/NZ headquarters in Sydney, overseeing Google Maps engineering. He has been involved in digital media technology for over 25 years, as a software developer, architect, entrepreneur, and team leader. But he doesn’t spend all his time in front of a computer. Sometimes he does engineering the old fashioned way — working with his hands with more natural materials.
1. What was your first job ever?
My family was living in Switzerland, in Geneva. I worked for a summer in a shop that sold fabric and linens. I was the boy who put stuff away and cleaned up after the sales people had taken it all out to make a sale. I was 18 and had a great time. My French has a slight Swiss accent because of that summer.
2. What do most like about working in the IT industry?
The meritocracy. You earn respect by accomplishing things in this industry, not by being the boss. An almost direct consequence is that the people you work with are often quirky, interesting, and very, very smart.
3. What’s your hobby?
When I can find the time, I like to work with wood, using hand tools. Slowly and carefully crafting something with my own hands, that I can touch and hold, entirely alone, is a very good counterbalance to my fast-paced, high-tech, meeting-heavy work life. In both cases I build things, but the satisfactions are quite different.
4. Where do you think the Australian IT industry will be in five years?
Mobile computing, both on phones and on tablets, will clearly be a large part of the next five years, along with cloud computing providing services to these clients. And these services will become much more social, allowing and even inviting you to use them together with friends, family, and coworkers. The largest changes will be in the way these things serve consumers, not businesses, though of course businesses will reap great benefits too. But the big new things, the things that will become necessities that we can’t even imagine today, will be for consumers.
5. What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very inspiring people. The one that immediately comes to mind is James Gosling, principal designer of the Java programming language, as he combines real genius with an easygoing, genuine personality in a way that’s all too rare. Really smart, really successful people have a hard time not becoming prima donnas. James is one of those who simply doesn’t have it in his DNA. He’s one of the smartest, and one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
Image credit: Raul Vera