In the next of our series of Meet the Team Q&As, we talk to Ian McKinnon, our Technical Director, about his role, the projects he is most proud of and what the future holds for the company.
What is a typical day like at AiQ?
I usually work from home, doing a lot of programming – I build the tools on which we all work and produce content for clients. Typically, I’m working on a project such as the recent one with Manchester Airport, where we are doing an analysis of their Check-in procedure. I’ve built a toolkit that runs a model that we can process – we can see how efficient they are and tell that what will happen if they change things. We can let them know the outcomes before they start to physically make changes.
I build the computer tools to make that happen. Day-to-day, I’m mostly concerned with maintenance, keeping up with all the changes.
What AiQ projects that you have worked on are you most proud of?
Hyderabad International Airport in India. Although most AiQ projects use my toolkit and I’m proud of all of them, working on the Hyderabad Airport was interesting. There were two or three different elements different from the UK so these had to be retrofitted into the model. For example, for security screening we usually presume that male and female passengers will queue up together, however in India they are completely segregated. This opened our eyes to quite a few processes and the clients were very happy with the work we did.
What is it like working alongside your talented team members?
I do a lot of mentoring. Manos, for example, is working on the frontline for the Manchester Airport project so I am mentoring him on the technical aspects, although it’s sometimes a case of “How do we do something?” “I don’t know, we’ll work it out”!
We have to be both proactive and reactive. We need to manage our response to the Client’s requirements (which tend to evolve), to keep the scope creep under control and to maintain the project timetable. This often involves making decisions on quality and keeping a reasonable sense of perspective on the commercial issues. We aim to involve the whole team in those decisions.
Do you have a passion for aviation or consultancy?
More consultancy. Aviation is a means to an end. If I want to go places I take a plane, as it’s the most effective way. I’m 6”5 so getting on a plane is not always a happy experience, but I use them because I want to go places. My passion is travel.
For consultancy, I care from a professional perspective that we do a good job and exceed expectations. It’s really nice to have your client say “wow, we didn’t know we could do that, we could save money”. AiQ runs on pride as much as anything else.
What does the future hold for AiQ?
More of the same. We are slowly developing a niche. We want to become the go-to people for our service. We’re smaller, brighter and more agile than our competition – we go the extra mile for our clients.
We’re still keen, not old and jaded!
What’s next for your role at AiQ?
My original model has come to the end of its life and is based on older technology. My next step is to take it apart and build version 2. I’ve learnt the new language so we can take everything we know and build a new toolkit. This will serve us for five to ten years.
I have also been maintaining the existing platform. It’s like a house – it’s easier to fix and repair than demolish it and start from scratch! However, we are now in a position where we can take the time to rebuild it and incorporate everything we have learned over the last five years. It’s always going to evolve, but it should serve us well in the challenges to come.