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Driving innovation

Building a career in automotive technology

From junior consultant in Portugal to an architect of global solutions in Japan, Tiago Rodrigues’ career at Capgemini is a lesson in innovation.

How do you get ahead in your career? One way is to think beyond the scope of a current project or task and consider what else could be improved. What innovations could really make a difference? And when you learn to innovate, good things sometimes start to happen. Just ask Capgemini solution architect Tiago Rodrigues.

“I started working for Capgemini as a junior consultant in Portugal seven years ago,” he says. “After a couple of months, I started to lead a project team. After a year, I moved up to become a consultant. After two years, I became an advanced consultant, and then finally a solutions architect. And I think one of the keys to my progress is that I never just focused on the scope of my project, I always touched on the innovation aspect.”

Tiago’s specialism is in the field of automotive technology.

“I work with the digital systems we use in the cockpit of the car, including digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems – basically, everything that is connected to a screen inside the car.”

He says that those systems didn’t always keep up to date with software innovations in connected devices such as smartphones, and this reduced a vehicle’s sustainability credentials.

Intelligent cockpit: an immersive digital experience

“When I started, the automotive industry was developing infotainment systems five or six years before they became available in a car. It took a lot of money and resources, and in terms of technology, by the time the system made it to market, it was already outdated.

“The vehicle was built to last 10 to 15 years, but within only a few years customers would no longer be able to connect their smartphones to the digital ecosystem. They would need to buy a new car, not because of the car itself, but because the technology was outdated.

“So, we explored new technologies that could be updated every year or so, keeping the in-car digital systems up to date and giving the car a longer life. It’s a way that technology can reduce the use of resources, and make the automotive sector more sustainable.

“This started with me working on my own initiative and then became an internal project. Now, we are supporting different car manufacturers as these platforms are widely used across the automotive industry.”

Taking it global

Just as Tiago saw room for improvement in automotive technology, he also saw opportunities to push the boundaries of his own role at Capgemini.

“In parallel with the automotive project, I was assigned to other projects, for example giving technical guidance to other teams and managing clients. I also had the opportunity to travel to other countries including Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Singapore, and China, to present our solutions to potential clients as well as at global industry events. Together, it allowed me to develop my network inside Capgemini and also outside.”

The result was that last year Tiago was invited to start a new adventure in Japan.

“I’m still working in digital systems within automotive but my role has really expanded,” he says.

“I’m now based in Tokyo and, really, it’s about growing Capgemini’s automotive business across the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region. My job is to use my technical knowledge to help build the business.

“Our global experience is a great asset too. We gather our knowledge from experts from all around the world and can draw on our resources from different continents, for example, and cross what might be seen as language or cultural barriers.”

Looking to the future

Tiago’s projects have also grown beyond the confines of a car’s cockpit.

“We’ve been looking at how we can innovate with the digital systems of motorcycles too. It’s about how and where we can use innovations in software and how we connect the cloud infrastructure with a vehicle, whatever the vehicle is – it could be on a train. In the past, we’ve done some work on forklifts, creating a system where an alarm is triggered if a forklift hits a wall within a factory. It’s about taking our experience and engineering and embedding it across the automotive and transport sectors.”

In the future, Tiago says, harnessing the power of generative AI and ensuring cybersecurity across platforms will influence the interconnected software of automotive technologies. But while the scope of his own career continues to evolve, he believes he is continuing to build from strong foundations.

“Each time I start a new project, I apply the lessons learned from all the other projects with different companies and clients. In that way, I can always improve what we are doing on the current project. When we build on our knowledge and continue to innovate, we can support our clients with the best solutions. That’s where we really add value.”

And where that adds value for clients, it’s also where value can be added to a career.

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