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Embedded is Sii’s new Competency Center. “A team is a self-driven machine that inspires people” says the Director of the new unit

Top-notch technologies, global brands, and a great team of excellent specialists are just a few of the features of the Embedded Competency Center operating since April 2018. Dynamic growth of the unit is the work of Monika Jaworowska, Center Director, who tells us of the greatest challenges, advantages of team work, and future of the Embedded industry.

The new Embedded Competency Center reinforces Sii’s position in the area of top-notch technologies. Focusing on projects based on the Internet of Things concept and developing software for embedded systems, the Center supplies solutions for world’s leaders in automotive, electronic, and semi-conductor manufacturing industries. The Center is led by Monika Jaworowska who has been with Sii for seven years. As a leader of a team of 85 members, responsible for the Center’s development, Monika emphasizes the key role of the team which helps her solicit very demanding clients and tells about the prospects of the embedded systems industry.

Barbara Kun, Marketing Account Manager: At the moment, the Embedded Competency Center is one of Sii’s most intensely growing centers although it has become a separate unit as late as in April 2018. Portfolio of Sii’s clients for whom the Center delivers projects is very impressive. It includes global automotive brands, Internet of Things businesses, and semi-conductor manufacturers. What makes clients willing to co-operate with Sii for embedded systems?

Monika Jaworowska, Competency Center Director: As a team, we have been working at Sii for two years already which is enough time to make a good team. We have previously worked at the Engineering Competency Center, and now – since April – as a separate unit.

Competency Center exists, by definition, owing to the potential of specialists, their knowledge, experience, and – perhaps primarily – their drive to deliver projects which are interesting and satisfying challenges. I am beyond happy to be able to work with such passionate and challenge-hungry engineers on a daily basis.

A team, if it is well selected, is a self-sustaining machine of inspiration. Soliciting interesting projects in new fields, areas, or technologies is extremely engaging and power-building because competing for the dream projects works best in a group. Our appetites are still large but we are also very satisfied with our previous successful co-operation with our clients.

BK: As a consequence of the Center’s development, it expanded and a new branch in Czestochowa was opened. To date, the projects would be delivered by teams based in Gdansk, Krakow, Wroclaw, Lublin, and Katowice. Why did you choose to build a team in another city?

MJ: We want to be close to our clients and engineers. Technological specialization of our center is very diverse in terms of economy sectors. This diversity has a common denominator – embedded systems – but still requires certain additional process and technological specialization governing individual market sectors. Professional delivery of projects requires automotive know-how and engineers with such know-how can be invited to co-operation, for instance in Czestochowa.

BK: Running a team in several Polish cities serving clients from many countries, including Scandinavia, the USA, and Japan, requires process maturity from an organization. Such a structure also opens multiple new opportunities. How does this affect the methods of handling and delivering projects by the Embedded Competency Center?

MJ: This question is best answered with the term of “flexibility”. Each of our co-operation models is tailored to the specific client’s needs. To do this, we must properly identify their expectations for physical and logical security of their intellectual property and understand how to take care of the client’s project equipment sent to our workshops. At our Competency Center, we often work with clients’ prototype solutions which are their best guarded secret!

We can run this co-operation autonomously by delivering finished versions of products or work on a remote basis jointly with the client’s engineers to add competency to their team. Then, we hold regular meetings to keep in tune with each other.

Matching individual needs helps us deliver projects in various methodologies, from agile to cascade ones, and build manufacturing environments based on various programming and validation tools.

MJ: This question is best answered with the term of “flexibility”. Each of our co-operation models is tailored to the specific client’s needs. To do this, we must properly identify their expectations for physical and logical security of their intellectual property and understand how to take care of the client’s project equipment sent to our workshops. At our Competency Center, we often work with clients’ prototype solutions which are their best guarded secret!

We can run this co-operation autonomously by delivering finished versions of products or work on a remote basis jointly with the client’s engineers to add competency to their team. Then, we hold regular meetings to keep in tune with each other.

Matching individual needs helps us deliver projects in various methodologies, from agile to cascade ones, and build manufacturing environments based on various programming and validation tools.

BK: Based on your experience, what would you consider the greatest challenge in such mode of work?

MJ: Challenges are indeed numerous and with various underlying causes. In the pre-sales process, the most important thing is to present our technological expertise and process maturity to the clients. We manage to do this during visits of our potential clients at our design spaces. At such times they can see the top quality of security standards we employ at our workplace, as confirmed by the awarded level 6+ CommonCriteria certificate.

Many rules also result from co-operation with clients whose manufacturing environments are subject to ASPICE or Functional Safety (ISO 26262) standards. These aspects helped us persuade NXP managers, for instance, that the project for developing firmware for smartcard chipsets for mobile payment solutions can be safely placed in our hands.

Performance of our duties frequently involves facing purely technological challenges, particularly in R&D projects or in projects entailing co-operation with clients from different cultures and operating in other time zones, such as Japanese or American clients.

In between commercial projects, it is our ambition to create internal challenges to help our engineers develop in our target technologies, learn about market novelties, and obtain interesting references. A demo developed in partnership with Green Hills Software is a good example. We built a solution presenting V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication, building both the electronic circuits and software of the system from scratch.

BK: At the beginning of our interview you emphasized the fact that such projects are possible owing to the knowledge and commitment of all team members. What do you believe to be the greatest assets of potential candidates wishing to join your team?

MJ: Engineers appreciate primarily diversity of the projects and technological challenges. Both aspects are plain guaranteed at the Embedded Competency Center. Working here is so much more than programming in C or C++, or even Java embedded. We deliver many R&D projects where creativity and drive to solve technical problems is our daily life, and outcome of our work are enthusiastically received by the clients.

Contact with niche solutions and tools, such as VectorCast (from Vector Informatik) or the above-mentioned RTOS Integrity from GreenHills, can also be satisfying.

I believe the atmosphere at work is also important here; it is best illustrated by the Great Place to Work award that Sii received in four consecutive editions, and the Center itself was granted a special award for staff promotion and development.

BK: You work with large Embedded market players on a daily basis and you are responsible for continuous growth of the Embedded Competency Center. What trends can you see in the area and how does your Competency Center respond to them?

MJ: Nearly every sector nowadays requires assistance in developing low-level software for further electronic facilities or key real-time systems. Therefore, the market is offering multiple opportunities for specialists in the Embedded area. Our Center focuses primarily on expanding co-operation with semi-conductor manufacturers and on growth in the automotive sector and the Internet of Things solutions market. These fields are growing extremely rapidly.

The niche skills in using cryptographic techniques and the knowledge of secure coding principles, in place at our Competency Center, are and will remain to be in high demand in solutions for the automotive sector. Our projects delivered for a Swiss supplier of smart home solutions, which may still be perceived as sophisticated gadgets in Poland, have already become a standard element of furnishing installed by home developers on the Swiss market. Therefore, demand for such solutions is bound to keep growing in the next few years and I can assure you that every client interested in Sii’s assistance can count on attention and expertise of our team.

Take a look at the detailed offer of the Embedded Competency Center.

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