From tinkering around with computers as a teenager, to becoming AccountsIQ’s Head of Engineering. To find out a little more about Pascal Virmaud, we chatted about everything from interactive and inspiring books to world travel and his favourite piece of tech.
What does your day-to-day role at AccountsIQ involve?
I oversee all the engineering teams. Some are based here in Dublin, we have a team in Croatia as well as engineers working remotely in other countries (particularly during the pandemic). The company is growing fast, so there’s always lots to do.
I spend a lot of my time answering questions and solving problems. We have a huge amount of expertise embedded in our teams and it’s essential we collaborate and engage with other. We can’t be successful working in silos.
How did you get started in engineering?
I’ve been working with computers since I was a kid back in France. I was very much a self-learner, always tinkering around with bits of kit. Then I studied science and engineering and the Erasmus programme gave me the opportunity to do a brilliant exchange placement in Oslo before coming to Ireland and joining AccountsIQ.
I enjoy travelling and learning languages (and can speak French, English, some German and a little Mandarin). I’ve always found moving to a new country a humbling experience. You learn a lot about your cultural blind spots and expand your view of the world.
What do you find the most motivating aspect of working in engineering?
I really love finding solutions to problems. I’m a big fan of lateral thinking and looking for new, innovative ways to do things. I also enjoy helping other engineers to develop their skills and grow. It’s important to find out what makes them tick and then align their personal development needs with those of the business.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
To remember that there’s never enough time to do everything. We all have constraints, so we need to focus on what’s important. If you try to do everything, you’ll do most of it badly.
I think that’s particularly important for young engineers starting out. The landscape is very different to when I started tinkering around with computers as a child. It used to be simpler; now the tech space is vast and it’s difficult to have a broad picture. Sometimes it’s better to find something you’re good at and master it.
What is your favourite piece of tech?
Arduino Uno. It’s a micro-controller board that allows you to mix electronics and programming. I like it because it’s a really fun learning tool, you can link it to your computer and do your own thing with it. I guess I’m back to talking about tinkering around with computer stuff again!
What invention would you most like to see?
Proper augmented reality will be life changing. Currently, it’s in its infancy. You can have fun with it – for example, I’ve made an interactive Mr Men book for my kids. That’s not world-changing tech, but my kids love it.
What was your first ever job and what was the most important lesson it taught you?
I had lots of manual work summer jobs as a teenager back in France. Things like cleaning acid baths. It was a lot of hard work. Even then, I was always looking for better, alternative ways to work – if only to get out from beneath the extremely hot glass roof I had to work under.
What are you most looking forward to when Covid restrictions are lifted?
Like most people, it’s seeing friends and family. I haven’t been back to France for almost two years now, so I’m also looking forward to enjoying some of my favourite foods and hearing people speak French again.
What are you reading/listening to right now?
I really like the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast. It’s hosted by the people behind the BBC’s QI show and its full of interesting facts and trivia and is perfect for winding down. I also enjoy reading historical biographies because they give you such a different perspective to the history we all learned in school.
Right now, I’m reading The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef. She’s an expert on how humans can make more rational, smarter decisions and the book is both challenging and inspiring.
What do you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?
I don’t know if I’ll do it in the next year, but I’ve always wanted to parachute jump out of a plane. My wife would be horrified!
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited and why?
Dalian in Northeast China. It’s a gorgeous city and a delight to visit. It has everything; mountains, sunny beaches, great food and friendly people.
Thank you, Pascal.
Check out more interviews with our amazing team, such as our CTO Gavin McGahey, Valerie Eccles, our head of eLearning and developer of AIQ Academy, Sinéad Brennan, Head of Onboarding & Implementation, and Ellen Dak, Onboarding and Product Specialist.