Ryan Salter, Software Developer

Manufacturing Software Developer, BlackBerry

Ryan writes the manufacturing software that factories need to get BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets ready to sell.

Ryan was the main developer of manufacturing software apps for BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. The apps automate tasks that need to be performed on the PlayBook, such as loading the operating system at the factory. Ryan spent three weeks overseas to launch the software and help BlackBerry’s manufacturing partners meet specifications well before the PlayBook hit the market!

Ryan’s CareerMash

Ryan designs, develops and maintains manufacturing apps that are used to help create BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets. Factories around the world install apps created by Ryan and his team to get the devices ready for market. These applications customize the devices for each country and mobile service provider that uses BlackBerry devices on their networks. “We have to make sure we load the correct software, photos, videos and languages on the device right down to the labels for the box they’re sold in. Each carrier in the world has specific requirements for what they want on that box’s label.” 

A Day in the Life

Ryan works closely with his team of 12 developers in Waterloo as well as other teams across North America and Europe that handle software for operating systems, drivers, databases and anything else you can think of that goes into a BlackBerry smartphone or Playbook tablet before you buy it. 

“We’re a global operation so if one of our manufacturers in Europe has an issue with our application, we investigate the root cause and fix it.” Solving problems is as much a part of his job as building code. His team receives an average of 1,000 emails per week. “We’re the highest level of tech support for our manufacturing apps.”

Why This Job Rocks

Ryan gets to play with new BlackBerry devices up to a year before they hit the market. “It’s exciting every time a prototype comes in. I remember when we launched the BlackBerry Torch; I heard an ad on the radio and thought, ‘they’re still talking about this product?’ I forgot I’d first been exposed to it nine months earlier.”

Speed Bumps

There are literally thousands of pieces of hardware and software that go into each BlackBerry device. “Devices are very complex and it can be a challenge just to keep track of all the internal processes. We have to be careful not change something for Mexico that might cause problems in Hungary. It can be a juggling act at times.”

Roadmap

  • Ryan took a year of computer engineering at the University of Guelph. He switched to Sheridan’s computer science technology co-op program and completed it with three IT placements under his belt.
  • He returned to Guelph and graduated with a degree in computing.
  • He worked as a developer at CAMIS, a company that creates software used by parks and reservations organizations across North America.
  • He then moved to BlackBerry as an internal web-developer for two years, mostly in automation. He wanted a change of pace and switched to his current department.

Tips for success

Do your homework - “Participate in co-op programs, plug away and keep your skills current. Understand math, logic and computer science. Stay positive!”
Learn constantly - “If you don’t keep learning in IT, you become outdated quickly.”
Communicate - “You could have invented a programming language but if you can’t talk to somebody about what it does chances are you won’t get the job.”

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