Tech is so broad so don’t get put off by the tag

 

Shash Patel has had various roles at Air Products over 12 years. Currently he is working as a director of information risk management and privacy and loves the tech industry. We caught up with him to see if he has any tips to help people wanting to go into the tech industry.

What is Air Products?
Essentially it’s a manufacturing company. We sell industrial gasses. You may have heard of our main customers. We help companies like Samsung to make flat panel TV screens, Intel for microchip manufacturing and NASA for rocket fuel. They’re all basically made out of what you’re breathing. Raw materials are free and we break them down into its molecules like nitrogen and so on.

How did you get into tech?
I actually studied theoretical mechanics at university. I was good at lots of subjects l but I went with mathematics as it was my favourite. Theoretical mechanics is a combination of maths and engineering together. I didn’t really know what to do once I graduated. Most people with a maths background go into accountancy but I wasn’t interested in accountancy. A job appeared to work with a business systems group, so really I got into IT by accident. After joining the company I got into coding and loved it. That’s essentially how I got into tech.

What is your current job role?
I am head of something called information risk management and privacy. This isn’t a solid tech job as such. I’m actually reporting to our corporate risk office in the legal department. But that’s one of the great things about a tech background. You can transfer tech skills to lots of other areas really easily. In my role I ensuring that the most important company information is protected and looked after.I make sure people don’t steal or lose personal data.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?
The people side of it. You really can’t find out about stuff simply by using the internet, or emailing. You really have to talk to people and I love to talk to people. One of the pleasures of my job is not only talking to people within the company, but across the globe. It’s important to maintain a good network. I get called out to speak at conferences around the world.

What advice would you give to young people to get them into tech?
Tech is so broad so don’t get put off by the label. A lot of people get put off because of IT lessons in schools. That isn’t what the workplace is like. If you feel interested in a particular topic or subject, it will most likely have any aspect of tech. If you’ve got an interest in business, for example, then you should have an interest in tech, because without an interest in tech you wouldn’t be successful in business. Business now runs on tech full stop.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I won’t be retiring anytime soon because I love working. I think you’ve got to keep yourself busy both physically and mentally. I like the analytical aspect of my role so I’ll probably move more in that direction. And i’ll volunteer more.