Trailblazer: Qualcomm's Mike Vildibill
Mike Vildibill, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies has a history of building very large data centre supercomputer complexes. With this wealth of knowledge and expertise, Vildibill and his team have been involved with the design of many of the largest computers in the world.
“We've been driving some of the highest and highest performance supercomputers in the world,” he explained.
Looking back over his career journey, Vildibill explains “it's a good example of the reality of where many of the leading edge technology jobs are going and what skill sets you need to go there, especially in a leadership position.”
Having also worked in the academic community, Vildibill has had the opportunity to learn and grow in different working environments: “I began my journey working for a supercomputer company, it was the leader in building supercomputers. I actually started out as an employee of the University of California, San Diego. And my job was to lead a team that bought one of these $40 million computers and operated it,” he said.
In this role, Vildibill provided computational services to the research community who were doing things like drug discovery, cancer research and global warming research.
“This was the beginning of what really took off to be the third leg of just scientific discovery. It has become a fundamental element to how science is conducted today as is doing a lot of it in computers. In doing so, I became very involved in research programmes, I was a researcher at UCSD where I wrote my own grant proposals and did fundamental research for the national science foundation and others,” Vildibill commented.
In the next part of his career with computing, Vildibill looked to make huge strides in the academic community. “ I went into industry and began work for a computer manufacturer helping them build high-performance computing, technical computing solutions.
Adding to this, he said: “This was so that on the commercial side, the enterprises could begin doing much of the same computational research and it was very successful. We brought many of these methods into the commercial space, which was exciting.”
Now, with his work at Qualcomm Vildibill told Technology Magazine that he invents as he goes and emphasised that his passion lies in the computing industry.
“I drank the Kool-Aid,” he explained.
“Back in the day that was a comment that most people often kind of said. Once you get bit by computing or computational science, you're forever stuck, forever drawn to that field.”
With the wealth of knowledge and expertise gained throughout his career, Vildibill now also works in a mentoring role, he explained: “I speak with a lot of entry-level employees and people coming just out of school to give them some advice about how to navigate the technology space.”
He continued: “What I tell many people who are early in their career is, learn deeply in what you're doing. Learn very deeply about the core of your product, but also look for opportunities to develop breadth because you need a little bit of both to really drive in this world where technology is changing so rapidly.”
“I often say you know the longevity of a new technology concept is about the same as the shelf life of a banana. In other words, things change really quickly. You don't develop one thing and sit on your laurels for a decade. You develop one thing and you start working on the next thing, the pace is ridiculously fast,” concluded Vildibill.