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An engineer who makes time a success factor

Posted: 29 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:management? technology trend? electronics industry? philippines? information technology?

Gruet juggles work in ADB, Philippine Supreme Court, and other organizations.
Being loaded is not a problem if you love what you are doing. Probably, this is what keeps Victor Gruet going. While currently involved and busy with a project at the Asian Development Bank and the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines, Gruet still finds time to manage other pro-bono activities.

He is currently the chairman of the Philippine Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an organization that is active in networking with other groups looking at ways to make the electronics industry grow. He is also involved with the Business Development Committee of the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (ITECC), a joint government and industry group headed by the Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, which aims to promote IT-enabled services in the Philippines.

As for his work at the Pacific department of ADB, he interestingly talks about communications infrastructure as its main target. His project aims "to help Pacific developing member countries utilize information and communications technology (ICT) in reducing poverty in the region."

Meanwhile, his other project with SC, a project funded by World Bank, aims "to assist the judiciary improve its overall performance, in the area of ICT and its business processes and interaction with its many publics."

A real engineer by heart

Having the ability to understand, at a very tender age, how electronics works, Gruet describes himself as a truly gifted electronics engineer. "Since I was in grade school, I was already fixing radio and TV sets for my friends," he said.

His passion for engineering field made him decide to pursue a career in electrical engineering; taking up some electives in electronics and computers, his true fervor. "The University did not have computing and electronics degrees at that time," he explained.

In 1973, Gruet finished his Bachelor's degree at the University of the Philippines. Immediately after graduation, he and his friends established a publishing firm and came up with probably the first electronics magazine for Filipino students and professionals. Alongside, he also worked as a computer engineer to a systems integrator prior to working at Computer Information Systems Inc. (CIS), a subsidiary of Manila Electric Co.

Starting out as a product designer at CIS, he climbed his way up the corporate ladder and later became a manager. In between these two stages, he enumerates that he also was once a programmer, a systems analyst/designer, a financial analyst, and a supervisor at CIS. Soon thereafter, he also held chief intelligence officer positions in Manila Electric Co., Fort Bonifacio Development Corp., and Pilipino Telephone Corp.

Among the jobs he had held since he graduated, he finds his work at Software Breakthroughs Inc., also a CIS subsidiary, to be the most interesting of all. It was where he became a part of a team that designed and produced a handheld computer system named "Rover" for sales force automation. "It was the most interesting job for me, since it was aligned with my background and my interest," he said.

Indeed, Gruet owes a lot to the supportive top management as well as the capable and dedicated staff of Software Breakthroughs - not only because the said project interested him the most, but also because it provided Gruet a good training ground and solid experience.

"It encompassed everything from user business requirements, to user interfaces and usability tests, product viability, product R&D, prototyping, to developing and manufacturing, system architecture, hardware and software systems performing tuning and sales and marketing," Gruet added.

He boasts of the Rover project, "The whole system allowed us to automatically download daily data from the mainframe to a supervisor's PC workstation and on to the handhelds for the field crew," he said. "At the end of the day, when the Rover is plugged to the PC, the system automatically uploads all of the day's data from Rover to the PC, and then the PC automatically downloads the data for tomorrow's fieldwork to Rover. After the supervisor reviews the data, he initiates the data transfer to the mainframe," he added. "Most of the applications were for utility meter reading and for product sales, inventory, and accounts management. For some customers, we also produced portable printers that could print invoices," he explained.

Later in 1977, CIS granted Gruet a two-year joint degree scholarship program - Master in Business Administration at Wharton Graduate School and Master of Science in Computer Information Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Being loaded and happy

His mission and vision for a competitive and advanced IT-based sector in the Philippines serves as his motivation and inspiration in pursuing greater heights and innovations in the electronics engineering field. With support coming from his wife and colleagues, Gruet's mind is focused to carry on in fulfilling his goal. Despite his hectic schedule and taxing activities in and out of his workplace, Vic Gruet surely knows how to keep and maintain a balanced lifestyle. He does not complain, nor grumble regarding this. He just makes sure that everything works out just as he had planned--just as he had envisioned it.

Having no children, he devotes all his time and attention to his work. "Basically, electronics and IT are what I take care of. My wife is also in the IT industry, so she understands what we do and why we do these things," he said.

To top it all, his extra-curricular activities, if you may call them extra-curricular, also revolve around engineering. "My extra-curricular activities are also technology-related such as electronics design and construction projects, shortwave listening and amateur radio, computer hardware and software, and a while back photography. But I guess, the underlying activity in all these is reading business and technical magazines," he said.

Being an extremely busy engineer, he claims that he enjoys what he is doing. Indeed, without his genuine interest in the engineering field, it would have been impossible for him to manage his time well, considering all the work he is doing. "I'm not yet tired of juggling too many jobs, but yes, I am barely able to manage it!," he said.

When asked what he likes most about his job, he answered, "Studying technologies and technology directions, and how people and organizations can take advantage of them for new and improved services, and hopefully for some, improved revenues and profitability." And currently, "We are looking at activities close to what we have at present, such as test," he said.

Aside from the country's presence in assembly and manufacturing, Gruet admits that the industry needs to grow more. And this is what he and his colleagues from the industry, academe, and government talk about during their regular meetings. In their discussions, they emphasize that they "would also like to expand [their] present initiatives in VLSI and SoC design services, software and firmware design and programming, R&D, product design and application notes, including design engineering support services coupled with [their] contract center expertise," he said.

"How about these coupled with foreign language capability in Japanese or European languages? Can we further expand this cost-effective, short turnaround design and development coupled with our facility in certain languages? How about animation, distance education, or software support still related to electronics?" he added.

Though he has a lot of questions in mind, his vision as an engineer is clear. "At the end of the day, we hope to reach more foreign and local businesses, promoting the Philippines as a good place to do electronics, R&D, software, and related businesses," he said. Having enough time to do all these, he said, is his greatest challenge.

- Jerico Abila

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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