View from the Top: Nathan Lovejoy, LIMEWIRE
How important is it to be an engineering/technology/computers or even a broader science major to excel in the technology industry?
It depends what aspect of the technology industry you're interested in. Naturally, many jobs require specialist training, but technology companies need more than just software developers, so there are plenty of opportunities for those who are not engineering majors. Regardless of your academic work, it is very important educate yourself on current trends, technologies and major players in the industry.
Given the pace of technological change, how can an engineer avoid obsolescence? Is it just a matter of keeping up on all "hot" technologies? Or is keeping up with technologies not that important?
The best thing an engineer can do is pay attention to what’s going on around him or her. What are other people using? What are its benefits? The quickest path to obsolescence is isolation.
Is there a need for non-technical people in the technology field? What roles are missing from most technology organizations?
There certainly is a place for non-technical people in tech companies. Business development, legal, customer care, human resources, finance, marketing, communications—these are all roles that any successful company will need. To excel in these roles within a tech company, however, you should have a strong familiarity with the industry and the technology.
Beyond the technical skills, what other skills are critical for a successful technologist?
You should always be keeping up with current market trends and technical knowledge. Go to conferences, meet with other industry professionals and generally remain aware of shifts and changes.
There seem to be companies that are tech-centric and those that are more user-experience centric. Is this an important distinction in choosing the “right” company to work for?
It all depends on your skills and goals. There are many different paths to success for a technology company, so you should look for a position in a company whose values and approach mesh with you and your skill set.
What issues plague the technology industry? What has surprised you the most about working in the technology/new media industry?
One of the best and worst things about the technology/new media industry is the speed at which things move. The solutions for a problem you’re addressing one day might be obsolete the next. This means that an issue that plagues the industry is poor timing. You have to have the right product, at the right time, and position it for the right person—that’s not always as easy as it seems.
As far as what has surprised me about working in this industry, it has been the willingness of companies to adapt quickly to changing environments. Other industries are far more reluctant to follow the ebbs and flows of consumer demands.
How possible is it to change career paths from other fields into new media and/or technology?
Again, this comes down to knowledge. To transfer into the technology field you will need to familiarize yourself with the industry and the technology then find a role that suits the skills you are bringing from your previous experience.
What advice would you give a young person considering a career in technology?
Read, read, and read. Make sure you know what’s going on around you and be willing to adapt to change.
Any predictions for the industry? What will be the “biggest news” in your field for 2009?
There is so much going on in the peer-to-peer world these days, it’s hard to predict what the next big development will be. Though keep an eye out for LimeWire 5, which will be available by the beginning of 2009.