Phillip Matheson

Phillip Matheson

Swinburne University of Technology
Associate Professional: Sales Solutioning (Innovation)
Phillip studied Bachelor of Information Technology at Swinburne University of Technology

What's your job about?

I currently work in the “Labs” space within DXC. In Labs, we investigate new ways of working with both existing and new technologies. We develop an understanding of how we can best help our clients leverage such technologies and the opportunities they hold.

My role within Labs, is to get hands on with the technology and to build out multiple proof of concepts (POC) for the purpose of demonstrating the feasibility of the technology. Once we have our POCs we use this to engage with customers (both external and internal) to build a greater understanding of how we can extract opportunity.

What's your background?

I grew up in Churchill, Victoria. A small town 2 hours south east of Melbourne.

During secondary school, I found my passion for the sciences. This passion guided me for the next several years and ultimately led me to study Biotechnology at RMIT in Melbourne after completing my Year 12 studies.

Over the next few years, I would go on to learn about molecular biology, tissue culture, genetics, chromatography, electrophoresis and even growing human cells in a flask. However, after some time it started to become clear to me that this was not where I pictured my future self.

It was time for a change and I decided to try something completely different. I went and got myself an apprenticeship in horticulture and worked as a landscaper. I went from working in a lab with elements, to working out in the elements.

During my time in the apprenticeship I learnt a great deal and as a result am now very handy outdoors.

As the years went by I started to experience the same feeling as I had a few years earlier whilst studying biotech. This was still not where I pictured my future self. The time had come again to shift direction.

This time I pointed myself at IT. Having not really studied IT before I played it safe and applied for a generalist IT course though the Swinburne TAFE. After studying for most of the year, I was convinced that I had found a path that was perfect for me. I dropped the TAFE and jumped into University life. Over the next few years I continued to fine tune my course to best suit my interests and the IT industry.

During my time at Swinburne I had the opportunity to undertake two 6 month industry based learning units (IBL). Getting real exposure to the IT industry before completing my course has been a major factor to my achievements.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Anyone with a strong passion for technology would fit right in. However there are certainly several key characteristics that would help people succeed in this role.

  • Inquisitive – A true desire to want to understand and experiment with technology and how it can make an impact.
  • Embrace failure - Failures are a necessary part of innovation and must be embraced and learnt from.
  • Adaptability – The pace of change in the IT world is accelerating. One must be able to quickly learn on the fly and want to dedicate time to staying current with IT.

I think the role lends itself best to IT generalists. Having a breadth of knowledge across IT has been one of my strongest assets in this role. It has allowed me to realise opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

During my time here at DXC, I have had the opportunity to investigate many exciting forms of technology in order to understand its ability to help our clients on their digital transformation journey. Some of the technology I have recently been working with is listed below. What excites me the most about my job is not the technology that is on the list… it’s the not knowing what the list will look like tomorrow.

  • Drones
  • 3D Printers
  • Robotics
  • Holographic Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Computer Vision
  • Internet of Things

What are the limitations of your job?

With the increasing rate of technological change, I find myself fighting a losing battle trying to stay current. Almost every other week, a new form of technology pops up on our innovation radar and will be competing for resources (my time). Often this results in myself being pulled in 6 opposing directions whilst trying to close off existing projects.

I would love to get involved in all our innovation projects, but the reality is it’s just not possible. Sometimes I need to step back and handball an opportunity to help ensure I can close out many of the existing ones.

Failures are a necessary part of innovation and it has been a challenging shift in thinking to understand the importance and necessity of failure.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Networking - You will hear it time and time again; believe it! Networking is important. You will find yourself crossing paths with many of the people you have met along the journey so far, be it intentionally or un-intentionally. Leverage the relationships you form along the way.
  • Industry Based Learning (IBL) – Through my course there was the opportunity to undertake IBL. Whilst this will generally add additional time until you are able to graduate, it was well and truly worth it. It allowed me to step into the industry and hit the ground running. I heavily leveraged the experience and the people I met along the way to help me secure employment after my degree.
  • Pivot – Have an open mind and continuously challenge yourself. Are you on the path you desire or are you just going with the flow? Be open to pivot when you are not satisfied with the current path you are on. Be the driver of your education. To change direction (several times) was an incredibly hard decision for me, but without being prepared to sacrifice I would certainly not have found my way into a career that I truly enjoy.