This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Pieter Botman: Leading International Consultant and Authority in Software Engineering, Systems Integration, Quality Assurance. I had an opportunity to meet up with Pieter in London (UK) this summer, where Pieter is lending his considerable talent and deep insights contributing to a major international initiative.

Enjoy,
Stephen Ibaraki

Pieter BotmanPieter Botman is an independent consultant based in Vancouver, Canada, with over twenty five years of experience in software engineering, systems integration, and quality assurance.

During his career, Pieter has delivered complex system solutions in various domains including aviation, banking, telecommunications and image processing, and has worked with organizations such as Bell Canada, Digital Equipment, AT&T and MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates. In his current consulting practice, Pieter assists software engineering organizations with focused process assessment and process improvement activities which are tailored to their specific business needs.

Originally graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of Toronto in Electrical Engineering, Pieter has since focused on software. He has taken numerous technical and post-graduate courses related to the fast moving discipline of software engineering. He also has been a member of many technical and professional associations, including the Association for Computing Machinery, the IEEE Computer Society, and the American Society for Quality and the Project Management Institute. Over the years Pieter has compiled various certifications and qualifications in software engineering, quality assurance, and process assessment. He is a registered Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in the province of British Columbia.

Pieter contributes to the profession in several ways. He contributes to the development of software engineering standards both within the IEEE Computer Society and within ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7. He serves on several software engineering committees and task forces for the Professional Engineering associations at the provincial (APEGBC) and national (CCPE) levels. He serves on the Professional Activities Board of the IEEE Computer Society and currently serves as the Computer Society's representative to the IP3 (International Professional Practice Partnership) initiative.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:49:
What sparked your initial interest in computers?
"....It wasn't really until I reached university taking electrical engineering that I was able to discover minicomputers and microcomputers and to see first-hand all the detailed controlled interactions. Seeing them control diodes, the LCD displays and graphic monitors, sound synthesizers - that's what really got me excited...."

:2:24:
Tell us more about your vision and objectives behind your current roles? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring this about?
"....From an individual personal perspective I see myself as a software engineer and what I'm hoping to do in my volunteer involvement in various professional and technical societies is to help develop the profession of software engineering...."

:03:10:
Can you tell us about your consulting business?
"....I help companies improve their processes, software engineering tools and practices to improve their capabilities and their effectiveness....

:03:44:
Do you have any key lessons that you can share with the audience?
"....From an individual practitioner's point of view, professionalism is a good guide...."

:05:02:
What technical tips do you wish to share?
"....There are lots of exciting developments on the hardware and software side; for example, the advent of multi-core processing such as the Cell Broadband Engine....From the point of view of the software engineer I would recommend: be ready for it, be aware of it and be ready to express it in terms of a model rather than simply at the programming language level or at the assembly language level. Be ready to model that and be ready to carry forward at the design level...."
****NOTE: Cell Broadband Engine and Cell/B.E. are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., in the United States, other countries, or both and is used under license therefrom.*****

:06:08:
What are the best resources for IT professionals?
"....There are a couple of levels of resources. One critical level is the team you are working with right now, they represent the people with whom you have to get the job done. Another level would be your immediate network of professionals that you are in touch with on a regular basis....At a broader level, a professional or technical society...."

:06:55:
You are involved with the IEEE Computer Society. What are some of the benefits being involved with that group?
"....They are, at its core, a learned society. They are developing the theory and practice of software engineering and are the leading publisher in that field. Aside from the theory they are also involved at the professional level...."

:08:10:
Are there any other professional groups with which you are involved? Can you describe some of them and the value they bring?
"....The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC), a part of Engineers Canada....a registered engineer in the Province of British Columbia....American Society for Quality (ASQ)....Project Management Institute (PMI)...."

:10:08:
How does your professional status as an engineer support your work in software?
"...A professional designation helps to get across to prospective employers my level of capability and competence....It has permitted me to be 'at the table' and to help develop the profession by talking to the authorities who regulate the profession here in British Columbia. Also within the computer society it helps me have a 'seat at the table' and to have people take an interest in what I have to say...."

:12:34:
What are your views on software engineering certification and licensing and where is this heading?
"....The most important aspect to the software engineer practice is assurance of competence....We will see a movement towards more commonality on how we certify software engineering professionals...."

:13:58:
How would you describe your top innovative achievements in terms of the problems you were trying to solve, your solutions, and the impact it has today and into the future?
"....I've been a member of teams that have developed useful systems within the context of the situation at the time, using the technology at the time....My personal achievement was part of a team....An achievement has also been a contribution towards the profession in terms of standards and professional work....I've made incremental contributions...."

:15:08:
How do you manage change?
"....From the professional point of view, managing change flows from managing information. Being aware of what's coming down the road and then being able to sift through that mountain of information and judging what's important and judging who the credible authorities are and being able to know where to go for reliable information...."

:17:06:
If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....Aim for a professional approach....Become involved....Don't work in isolation, become part of a profession, become part of a professional network....Keep your tools and skills sharp...."

:18:14:
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....From a technical perspective, software engineering and software development are going to mutate. They are going to keep rising in the level of abstraction so software professionals are going to have to be able to move from one technology to another very quickly and what they will keep are the abstractions...."

:19:27:
What do you see as the top challenge facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....Speaking from a broader perspective....I think the major challenge is coming together in the world in a profession using common standards and common language. Once we do that we'll be able to move forward and proceed to work together more quickly and more effectively...."

:21:06:
Do you have a sense of what's happening in regards to IT jobs out there?
"....My sense is that there are specialists and there are generalists....There are always positions at the leading edge of technology for specialists..."

:22:23:
If you were conducting this interview, what additional question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"...Is the industry going to really remain strong in countries where they don't have strong R & D investment?...."