C-suite Career Tips: Stan Schneider, Real-Time Innovations

Name: Stan Schneider

Company: Real Time Innovations (RTI)

Job title: CEO

Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Stan Schneider is CEO of Real Time Innovations (RTI), the largest provider of software frameworks for autonomous systems. Schneider served on the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) Steering Committee for six years before resigning in 2020. At IIC, he held the positions of Vice President, Testbed Chair, and Ecosystem Task Group Chair. Schneider is a member of the advisory board for the World IoT Solutions Congress. Schneider is actively involved in the Silicon Valley Alliance of CEOs. IoTONe named Stan one of the Top 25 IIoT Influencers in 2017 and 2018. Embedded Computing Design awarded Stan the 2015 Top Embedded Innovator Award. Prior to RTI, Schneider managed a large Stanford robotics lab, led a team of integrated communications software and created data acquisition systems for Automotive Crash Testing.

What was the most valuable professional advice you received? As a student: Earn a degree that combines engineering and computer science. The future will be built from smart things; people who understand how things work and how they think about things will be better positioned to adapt.

As an entrepreneur: grow exactly as fast as you can hire great people. There is nothing more important than surrounding yourself with excellence.

What was the worst business advice you received? “Fintech is a hot market with a lot of money.” That advice led me to the ignominy of opening an office on Wall Street in 2007: the worst time in history. Worse yet, fintech as a market did not capitalize on RTI’s strength in controlling “real world” systems, the customer culture did not match ours, and the high-speed business market we were pursuing did not fit our product very well. A close second: “The world needs your vision.” That is immensely arrogant, although it is the mantra of the academy. A much better statement: “Seek to develop the vision that the world needs.”

What advice would you give to someone starting their IT/tech career? Specific: The most exciting future is in smart things that run AI outside of the cloud. This is a megatrend that combines the two biggest trends in technology: networking and AI. It will last the next 40-100 years.

General: Your education is just the beginning in a very dynamic world. When you see the world change, move early, not late. That said, getting to market too early is worse than too late. If you’re too late, it’s obvious. If you arrive too early, the big market is just around the corner. The trick is to move with the market, on the early side of the change.

As a technologist: you need to specialize over time. Every new CS graduate wants to be a developer, but that’s because they don’t need to know anything about clients, code maintenance, debugging, testing, or product management. Every new CS grad behind you will also want to be a developer… so this is not a good long-term goal for most. Choosing a specialty outside of development is a better long-term strategy.

Have you always wanted to work in IT/technology? Mainly. But “IT/technology” is a big universe. I dabbled in physics, medicine, even writing. I could have been a lawyer.

What was your first IT/tech job? I started my career crashing cars. At the UMich Highway Safety Research Institute, I developed automotive safety systems, conducted crash tests, and built data acquisition and analysis software. I will never forget the BANG at the end of the test track. After running and analyzing thousands of collisions, I still can’t sit in a car and not think about what could hit my head and soft parts in a crash. It is simply not possible to protect frail people from the chaos of a high-speed collision.

We’ve made a lot of progress since I’ve been there: multistage airbags, side impact protection, antilock brakes, crumple zones, crushable steering columns, drunk driving laws, anti-distraction campaigns. Cars are safer. But still, the carnage continues; 94% of accidents are caused by the worst car safety system: you. And the number of victims grows every day. Now we have the opportunity, and the obligation, to save thousands and thousands of lives by automating driving. I can not wait

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/technology? Writing doesn’t matter: bad! There may be nothing more important to your career than communication, especially if you are in management or leadership.

Developing something new is the most creative part of technology – this is only true as long as you have no idea of ​​the real applications. The most creative part of technology is solving real-world problems with technology. And doing that requires building on many existing blocks.

Sales make more money because “X”, where X = they take more risks, spend more time away from their families, are closer to money, are more talented, etc. Sales earns more than engineering, but that’s because it’s a weird attitude. love sales. Pay is always higher where demand > supply.

Video games are fun to develop: No, video games are fun to play. The real world is much more interesting.

Technology is won by superstar geniuses. No, technology is a team sport; it is won by superteams, and especially supercultures of many teams.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a C-level position? Study leadership and management; this cannot be learned in school, not even in leadership and management classes.

Build those around you. If you make everyone around you successful, you will do great and love your career.

Understand and live your core values. write them down

Finally, don’t “go for an executive-level position”; that is a poor and self-centered goal. Try to help people discover and realize their own potential, and you’ll end up in a C-level position whether you try or not.

What are your professional ambitions and have you already achieved them? My professional ambition is to make everyone I meet happy to meet or work with me. That ambition can never be achieved. In particular, I work for everyone in my company, not the other way around. I seek to help them realize their potential.

Do you have a good work-life balance in your current position? Mainly. Work-life balance is (primarily) a function of your ability to delegate. Delegation is a relationship of trust, so work-life balance is a measure of your ability to earn and bestow trust.

I believe in real (unplugged) vacations. I think the balance comes from loving your job so much that you don’t want to go home and your home so much that you don’t want to work. These things are even codified in the RTI policies.

What would you change, if anything, about the path your professional career has taken? I would not have filled out this survey. LOL. Seriously, life is an adventure! Enjoy the trip and you can not regret it.

What would you recommend: a coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? A computer science degree opens many more doors, broadens your horizons, and exposes you to things you didn’t know you needed to learn (like writing).

That said, there are a lot of talented people out there without titles…they just have a harder path.

Overall, the title is arguably more important, despite the few that manage to succeed anyway.

How important are specific certifications? Other than a degree, specific certifications aren’t very important unless you want a specific job. That’s probably not a path, or the best path, to a leadership role.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in potential candidates? I like Lencioni’s “ideal team player”: Hungry (driven to success), Humble (success depends on others), Smart (socially adept). I also look for talent, the alignment of talent with ambition, and (especially) adherence to internal principles.

What would discourage you from a candidate? Any mismatch in the above: lazy, arrogant, cynical or negative, unprincipled. Leaving job after job because you were “bored” or not caring about your team. I am looking for salary above the quote. Hiding or sugarcoating a flaw, including getting fired. And especially: partiality against or lack of respect for others.

What are the most common mistakes candidates make in an interview? How can these errors be avoided? Mistake number one: reading interview tips online and trying to be something you’re not. Instead: Be honest. Be open. Seek improvement. Look for great teams, not great status. Ask questions about how you can best contribute, not what you get.

Find the job (team) that loves you for who you really are, then bring your authentic self to that job (team).

And don’t worry about being nervous. The interviewer’s job is to reassure you; If you’re nervous, I keep it against me, not you.

Do you think it is better to have technical or commercial skills, or a combination of both? When? As soon as you leave school, technique is essential. But seek to develop your professional skills quickly: efficiency, personal maturity, interactions, teamwork, leadership, communication.

By far the most important skill is learning to be a learner: reading, finding mentors, finding a way to teach or help others.

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