“Technological evolution is currently our greatest challenge”

Miguel Rangel, Head of Application Solutions Manager

Miguel Rangel was born in Figueira da Foz. He loves the sea and used to dream of becoming a marine biologist. When it came to choose a career path, however, pragmatism took the driver’s seat. “When I finished my final exams in secondary school, being a pragmatist, I thought about what the future would hold, and I guessed that software would play an important role. Even though I had never been a big fan of computers, I was interested in the fundamentals: the logical reasoning and the math”, he recalls. Now, aged 37, Miguel is Head of Application Solutions Manager at Siemens, where he leads a team with more than 120 people. Along the way he got a degree in Computer Engineering, a post-graduate in Management and Business Consulting, got married and had two kids. He doesn’t do as much programming as he’d like, but that is compensated by the personal contact he enjoys with his team. “I like speaking to them, understanding the challenges they face and motivating them to try new technologies. That’s what really drives me”.

Being a pragmatist, I thought about what the future would hold, and I guessed that software would play an important role.”
Miguel Rangel, Head of Application Solutions Manager

Building up critical mass

When he first arrived at Siemens, in 2014, he was challenged to ramp-up the application development team. At that time the center had only six people. Globally, they are over 700 today, which has allowed the team to widen its scope. “We began working with internal software, and now we are also developing for external customers. We have a very interesting project for customers in the renewable energies sector, based on cloud computing: batteries for storing energy in people’s houses. Using a smartphone, we can control the status of energy production and consumption that is passed through the battery.

Enabling growth

This growth opened the doors to new projects and challenges. “We need to prove ourselves in a competitive market.” But Miguel, who played the clarinet in an orchestra for 10 years, considers his current job a lot easier. “In an orchestra everyone is playing a different part of the music sheet that should be played perfectly to sound harmonious If you screw up, people will notice because your colleague can’t cover up for you, it’s much tougher. In this team we are lucky because we can help each other. It is much easier to integrate someone with no experience, knowing that they have always someone more experienced to guide them on their growth”.

Every year the technological evolution increases. It’s both fantastic and a little bit scary.”
Miguel Rangel, Head of Application Solutions Manager

Hand in hand with the academics

Miguel’s leadership style is marked by his ability to “focus, and pay proper attention to people. I finding the right people for this sector in Portugal, or in the world, is a big challenge”, acknowledges Miguel, whose days are divided between following up on recruitment processes and building bridges with the academic world. “I was in the Instituto Superior Técnico to speak at the SINFO (Técnico IT Week) and some of the students came to speak to us. They have a class in the IoT sector, and the teacher tasked them to find out how companies are facing this issue. Now we are having them in i-Experience Center to see how we handle IoT at Siemens”, he says.

 

The synergies with the academic world also touch on master’s thesis: “We’re in touch with the teachers, who let us know what they think is interesting from an academic point of view – to develop projects for dissertations. Based on this, we submit thesis proposals and the students apply”.

We always have to look to the future. When I’m not happy with something I try to understand what I can do to improve.”
Miguel Rangel, Head of Application Solutions Manager

A question of rhythm

Recruiting is a big challenge, but not the biggest. “Technological evolution is clearly the biggest challenge now. Every year the rhythm increases. It’s both fantastic and a little bit scary at the same time. There are moments when we get worried about not being able to keep up with the momentum”. The pace at which the center has grown also comes with challenges: “It has to be sustainable, the people who have been with us since the beginning have to be challenged, we can’t just say ‘there’s a new project, let’s recruit more people. We need to privilege people development internally’”. 

 

This is why Miguel believes that training is so important. Besides this, he also believes that Siemens’ ownership culture makes a difference. “You can see it, for example, in the way we implemented the concept of the home office. We trust people, they are free to choose the rhythm which best suits their lives”.

I wasn’t a first-class musician”, says Miguel about his days playing the clarinet. “What kept me at it for so long was the social part. The first time I flew on an aeroplane was with the orchestra.”
Miguel Rangel, Head of Application Solutions Manager

Looking to the future

His best memories of his music days are mostly of hanging out with friends, and it was with another group of friends from Figueira da Foz that he started to practice Ninjutsu, a martial art created by Japanese ninjas. “We would camp out in the forest and work on personal defense techniques with weapons. But you need to know when to apply them, evaluate the situation and decide if it is worthwhile”, he says.

 

Nowadays his spare time is spent on snowboarding, which he does about twice a year with friends, or playing table tennis. “I recently signed up for classes and they are really demanding. At school I used to play all the time, but we called it ping-pong. It’s one thing to play ping-pong for a bit, but quite another to play table tennis for a full 10 minutes”, he jokes.

 

Does he ever wonder what life would be like if he had gone into Biology? “We never know what the other path would have been like, but based on what I know now, and how fulfilled I feel, I’d say I made the right choice”, he says, adding: “We always have to look to the future. When I’m not happy with something I try to understand what I can do to improve”.