What our graduates say
We have asked some of our graduates to talk about their exciting careers in IT.
Product Manager, YouTube / Entrepreneur
In March 2008 Ryan Junee and fellow alumnus Simon Ratner formed a web company called Omnisio. By July, Omnisio had been acquired by Google, reflecting the value of their product. Ryan and Simon’s achievements were recognised by the University when
they were named the 2008 Engineering Sydney Young Alumni of the Year. Ryan completed IT units and an IT project within his engineering degree.
At the University of Sydney I learnt to strive for perfection and elegance in algorithms and code. I continue to hold myself to those standards whenever I’m writing code today.
I undertook a double degree, combining Computer Engineering with Commerce. As an entrepreneur, you need to do everything from writing code to managing infrastructure to balancing books and negotiating with potential partners and investors. While many ‘business’ skills can be picked up through experience, having a working knowledge of accounting and contract law is quite useful.
I think the most important thing for an IT professional is the ability to learn and adapt quickly. Ours is an extremely fast-paced industry and what’s new this year will be old news before too long. There is always demand for high quality software engineers, the market may fluctuate, but if you are the best of the best (and you should strive to be), you will never have trouble finding someone willing to pay for your skills. And of course you can always start your own company!
I’m an entrepreneur at heart and love creating new products that will impact large numbers of people. Now that I’m at YouTube I have the opportunity to create things that millions of people around the world will use, which is a pretty great feeling.
I hope future students will consider the entrepreneurial path, and realize that anything is possible. No one has everything figured out, so just do what you love and figure out the details along the way.
Director of Workforce Systems, NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet
President of the University of Sydney IT Alumni Association
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and understanding how it works. I think the appeal of IT is that you can be creative and practical all at the same time - there is nothing like coming up with an elegant solution to a problem, then actually making it work on the screen in front of you. Although it has been many years since I have written software (my career has transitioned into management and leadership), the problem solving skills I developed at University and as a part of my career in IT have served me in good stead.
I spent the first half of my career in the private sector, but more recently have moved into government positions. I was attracted to the interesting and challenging issues that face government, and I currently work in the senior executive service at the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. I manage a unit that looks at how information technology can be used to streamline the way the public service works, and at the moment my team is working on a project to purchase and deploy an e-recruitment system that will be used by all NSW public service agencies.
IT has become a fundamental enabler, allowing organisations to achieve business objectives, which means high quality IT people are always in demand. A thorough understanding of the fundamentals of IT is necessary; specific products and technologies come and go, but a core understanding of the principles of computing will allow you to adapt and change as the industry adapts and changes. The most valuable element of my studies was not a particular programming language but rather an understanding of how languages and computers work. Knowing what IT is capable of has allowed me to solve business problems through technology, which is a vital skill in today’s environment.
Chief Executive Officer, Sensory Networks
I completed my BSc majoring in Computer Science and did well enough to be accepted into honours. My honours year was a lot of fun, we had a ping pong table in our room, a great group of fellow students and a wonderful atmosphere. We worked hard too, and when I was awarded first class honours I decided I wanted to keep studying so continued on to do a PhD.
My supervisor was Associate Professor Alan Fekete and my thesis was on a bandwidth management system for active networks. During my PhD I was able to travel to conferences and visit overseas universities. It was very eye-opening; I was able to see the world and gained valuable experience presenting my work to the international community.
After submitting my thesis I started a company Sensory Networks in 2002 with a group of friends from Uni. We produce hardware and software acceleration solutions for network security applications including multi-gigabit content scanning acceleration technology. The basic function of our products is to allow our clients to search vast amounts of data very quickly and is mainly applied when searching network traffic for security threats. We raised $4 million in our first funding round. Since then we have raised over $US20 million for further development of our products.
When the company started I was very active in the hands-on technical aspects of the company’s products, and my PhD experience served me very well. I now spend more of my time focused on strategy, general management and marketing. An average day sees me work on planning and strategy, shareholder and investor management, writing reports, HR and I do a lot of international travel. I don’t do a lot of research any more, but instead work on directing and planning the research we undertake, which is very satisfying.
Software Design Engineer in Test, Microsoft USA
During my Honours year in 2006 I applied for, and was offered, a position at Microsoft USA. I now work in Redmond as a Software Design Engineer in Test on Microsoft’s “Identity Lifecycle Manager” product. My job involves helping to design, develop and ensure the quality of our product.
Since I started I’ve been able to work on tasks which are worth literally millions of dollars in revenue and affect people across the world. Being at Microsoft I’ve had the chance to meet people like Bill Gates, but I also work on a daily basis with people who help shape the IT industry. Probably my favorite part of the job is the casual work environment, I can choose my own hours and the dress code is whatever I feel like. There’s also a thriving Australian community over here who help make sure I don’t pick up an American accent.
At uni, I really enjoyed the artificial intelligence and computer science units and I loved Honours. I worked on automatic video analysis for surveillance for my honours project which was really interesting. I think the “bubble bursting” in terms of employment opportunities is a popular misconception in IT – if you are good, you will be employed, but I have found my extra year of Honours has helped.
The best thing about IT is the difference it can make, even in small ways. When you work in this industry, you can have an effect on millions of people – that is amazing.
Consultant, Networks and Communications, Accenture
Each project I have undertaken since beginning work has had a research component. Continuing with research studies at the University of Sydney helped me to develop vital skills that have been invaluable in the workplace.
An ideal IT professional is an all rounder. Of course you need to be technically adept, but you also need highly developed written and verbal communication skills, and to have excellent interpersonal, analytical and problem solving skills. You need to be a team player and show leadership qualities. It also helps if you can see both the big and small picture. Research cultivates ALL of these skills.
Whilst studying I was given many opportunities to present my work at international conferences and form relationships in the research community. This certainly developed my confidence and helps me every day at work.
IT is in every facet of life. By choosing to study and work in IT I have an understanding of technology that is revolutionising life and the world. It is a very exciting field to be in!