Being smart for the world's most luxurious home and hotels
In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Gary Byrne, technical/project manager, Okto Technologies
What’s your job?
I’m technical/project manager for Okto Technologies, a global innovator in smart building technologies and artificial intelligence. It probably sounds like we’re based in Silicon Valley, but our headquartered is in Lisburn and we’ve an office in London’s West End which is close to many of our clients. We develop, build and instal systems which completely control the technologies in some of the world’s most luxurious residences and exclusive hotels. Our systems manage everything - AV and IT, vehicle and passenger lifts, high definition CCTV, building-wide access, heating, lighting and security, even the temperature of the swimming pool. It’s all about making things easy and intuitive for our clients.
How did you get there?
After graduating I worked for Downey Brothers in Newry. Over the years I also worked with my dad who’s a joiner which was great in terms of insights, experience and training. I joined Okto (ClearAV at the time) in April 2008, as part of the installation/engineering team. I learnt the job from scratch as the IT side of things was quite new to me. After two years I was promoted to site manager with responsibility for both the off and onsite aspects of projects. After a further three years I was promoted again to my current role – which I love because it’s so varied and rewarding.
Do you have a typical working day?
Typical isn’t a word we use at Okto! As much of my time is split between London and Lisburn, my days are extremely varied depending on the stage of each of our projects. We all thrive on the variety this offers.
What qualifications do you have?
My focus at schools was maths and the sciences, and a graduated with a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from QUB. Since joining Okto I’ve had the opportunity to travel internationally – including Amsterdam and Las Vegas - attending training sessions delivered by global experts in smart building technologies.
What other skills do you need in your role?
Being tech-savvy and a good project manager is essential, but this job also requires good people skills as we deal with so many different individuals and personalities. The ability to remain calm and level-headed, particularly under pressure, are key attributes….as is the desire to constantly learn and develop. Every project is different and requires fresh thinking in order to deliver a ‘beyond exceptional’ result.
What do you think are the greatest challenges/pressures of the job?
Okto sets the very highest goals so our challenge is to ‘outperform’ by delivering systems which are beyond expectations. Such standards obviously present challenges but thanks to the company’s continuous improvement policy we are all brilliantly trained and well equipped to manage the pressures. It all comes down to teamwork…and we don’t have weak links!
What did you want to be when you were at school?
At heart I knew I was always going to end up in an engineering discipline of some sort.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in your profession?
While qualifications are important, academic success is not the only route to a successful career. Okto’s philosophy is to hire for attitude and train for success. Being ambitious, driven and diligent, combined with ongoing training and skills development can get you anywhere. I also think it’s important to listen and learn from people who have wider experience.
What’s the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?
Have I got the same systems in my own home? (the answer is usually no!) And, of course, have you any TVs or speakers going spare? (again, the answer is no!)
How do you like to relax outside work?
I’ll generally found watching or trying my hand at most sports. If I’m putting my feet up by choices are films or music. My guilty pleasure is spending money on pieces of technology that I don’t really need!