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Being inquisitive in tech is highly valued by experts who prioritize digital innovation, technology advancement, and digital leadership. In our “5 in 5” series, Experteq dedicates five minutes to engaging with inspiring leaders making a difference in achieving digital innovation through five crucial questions.
In many ways, Michael Power entered the tech industry with limited knowledge and interest. However, a transformative interaction with a senior engineer ignited his passion by piquing his curiosity about the field’s complexities.
Today, as a passionate leader and dedicated mentor, Michael has made significant contributions to Australia’s IT scene. Holding influential roles in various companies, he continues to inspire colleagues and peers with his enthusiasm for all things tech. In this interview, Michael discusses what keeps him motivated and how being unapologetically inquisitive in tech can greatly enrich one’s career.
Has technology always been a part of your life? Why or why not?
This might be surprising, and I hope it doesn’t take away from Experteq’s sales, but I haven’t always had an interest in technology. I grew up at a time when TV remotes were scarce and technology was mostly used by industry and manufacturing.
Growing up, there really weren’t that many opportunities to be in contact with technology. There were few affordable PCs available on the market and they lacked commercial appeal. Even when I stepped into the workforce and took on an entry-level job programming EFTPOS terminals for merchants, it didn’t strike me as a “tech” job even though technically speaking, I was working in the IT industry.
So, no, I did not exactly have a roaring head start into tech and back then, I could never have imagined being where I am today.
What initially inspired you about technology and how did this translate into a career spanning over two decades?
In my first job programming EFTPOS for merchants, the hardest thing to learn was how to use the sticky-tape gun that sealed the boxes the EFTPOS devices were shipped in. It took about 30 seconds to learn how to do it and it did little to trigger any great interest in technology or the future of IT.
Yet this all changed when the system froze, and I had to wait for a senior engineer to come and fix it. Whilst he was rummaging around at the back of the device, looking every bit like a guy who had no idea what the problem was, he wiggled all the cables in the hope of fixing it. This, of course, worked like a charm – a cable in the back of the device had come loose at the wall port, so when he pushed it back in, everything came back to life.
While waiting for the lengthy reboot sequence to conclude, I pointed at the wall port and asked the senior engineer a question: what’s behind there?
Instead of telling me, he took me to a whiteboard and drew a picture, and that was the exact moment I became interested in technology. Even after 20 years, this single interaction remains etched in my mind. In that instance, I had that big-picture moment where I realised that everything had a way of being connected through technology; for people, for business, for life itself.
How has your curiosity helped in your career? How does a sense of curiosity help in the IT industry?
Ever since that fateful question stemming from a loose cable, I leapt at every opportunity to learn. I had so many questions. Fortunately, the IT industry is full of people who will say “I’m glad you asked” – so for every question I had, came an answer; for every puzzled frown I shot back at them came a deeper explanation. Those opportunities set me on a path that continues to this day and my love of the industry always comes back to one thing – IT, the silent hero.
At Experteq I’m surrounded by the same type of brilliant minds that first piqued my interest in being a part of the IT industry and to this day, I still smile when I see something as simple as a person using an ATM or tapping their card at a supermarket, flicking on a light switch or taking their seat on a plane knowing that hundreds, thousands or even millions of things have happened silently in the background to allow that one action to occur without incident or delay.
How do you see the IT industry evolving over the next five years? How should companies approach these changes to stay competitive?
Emerging and disruptive tech is sprouting at a rate that is difficult to keep up with. To me, it is more important to ask questions behind what is powering the latest technologies instead of being overly concerned about how they work.
Curiosity is an age-old quality of humanity, but in IT, it is a highly valued and transferrable skill. To survive the deluge of disruptive new technologies, such as the upheaval from generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT, it is important for companies to remain grounded and ask logical questions that will help with a better understanding of trends. AI continues to prove that if you want to get the best out of something, you have to ask the right questions and the beauty of AI is that it does more than simply give us answers, it encourages us to ask better questions; questions that demand greater diversity and richer content from the answers.
Despite all the talk about disruptive technologies coming into play, we forget that it really wasn’t all that long ago that handheld devices were unheard of and now you’d be hard pressed to find someone that could survive without one. The same need for an adaptive response applies to the continued rise of technology, and we should expect that it will continue to accelerate and diversify our hardwired need to be inquisitive.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a career in technology?
I’d say it’s important to be passionate about your work and fully grasp the impact of the solutions you provide. Throughout my career, I’ve worked on some highly complex Managed Services operations, through which I was able to see the power of technology and how it has transformed the lives of everyone, everywhere.
Typically, most folks don’t think about technology until it stops working. Thankfully, we’re in the business of keeping it available, safe and forever supporting communities, industries and economies while folks go about their business. When you start your career asking so many questions, the one thing you learn to do well is listen.
To this day, when I ask someone “How can we help?”, I’m still the guy on the edge of his seat waiting to hear the answer, and I hope the problem-solvers of tomorrow will remain ever-inquisitive and humble.