Spidertracks Product Manager Luke McCarthy has been with the company almost since the very beginning — but it wasn’t his plan that led him to where he is now. Luke’s trajectory changed dramatically in his younger years due to health complications.
“I was in my 2nd year at university studying chemical and nanotechnology, but for health reasons I was forced to stop. But while recovering, instead of going back to university I had the opportunity to do the odd job here and there for Spidertracks when the company was still just starting.”
Luke says that in a way, he's glad about the way things have worked out. "I finished school and went to university because that's what you do, right? Chemical and nanotechnology was interesting and new at that time but looking back I was just doing it because I had been good at those subjects in school. I wasn't passionate about it and I think being passionate about what you do in life is far more rewarding than being good at something you're not completely interested in.”
Now nine years later, Luke is the Product Manager for Spidertracks and is responsible for taking products and services from their initial idea stage, right through to completion. A key role that also sees him helping to guide the long term direction of the product, thinking about “what we should be doing in 2-3 years or more from now, communicating that vision with everyone, and directing the implementation of it.”
Overseeing project development has given Luke a unique position to see Spidertracks and its Spider products and services evolve over time.
“The first units were sold with the core need being addressed, which is safety, knowing where your aircraft are and being able to respond efficiently to an emergency situation. That was the original value of having Spidertracks. I think now the benefit has moved beyond just safety. Now we’re also improving operational control and productivity of our customers. We are focussed on developing services that enable our customers to run their business more effectively while maintaining the high level of safety they require.”
Spidertracks is constantly evolving and looking at new ways to improve in the aviation industry. Luke is often on the frontline, gathering input from customers, understanding the problems they face day to day, and working with the Spidertracks team to find a solution that works. But choosing what to develop next isn't a decision that’s taken lightly.
“Our development ideas come from everywhere. They can come from the team, our customers, their customers and anyone in between. It's a balancing act to work out which features should be prioritised based on being of most value to our customers."
While a variety of stakeholders will suggest ideas to be developed next, it’s not always as simple as going with that idea and running with it, explains Luke.
“Customers often ask us to develop a feature and they'll tell us with such enthusiasm how valuable it will be. Our job is to ask the right questions to understand the problem they're trying to solve through this feature."
“Once we understand the problem, our team of engineers dig their teeth into it to produce the best possible solution."
When asked about his proudest moments while working at Spidertracks, Luke pauses, finding it difficult to narrow them down to a few.
"It's the positive feedback we get from customers, when at a trade show, visiting customers face to face, or talking to them over the phone. The encouraging comments that we receive about how valuable the service is for them, and even more so about how great the team of people that we have working here is. It's the good news you get when someone is found safe after an incident and you know Spidertracks helped find that person fast."
Luke adds that he's proud of the team and the hard work they put into helping aviation companies operate safe and efficiently.
“It's validation of our product and our team. If we deliver a service that our customers need, in a way they need it, then we'll continue to add value to their business and make their lives easier.”
And where is Spidertracks headed for in the future?
Luke says that Spidertracks will revolutionise how many aviation companies operate, and that although the functionality of the Spider will continue to evolve, there are step change enhancements on the horizon for our customers as we bring in AI and optimisation into our software services.
"The Spider will be an enabler of a number of features, Spidertxt 2.0 as an example, but it won’t be the centrepiece that it is today. We see Spidertracks as the core of operations for aviation organisations. A platform that integrates multiple services required to run an aviation operation all in one place, so that the right people have the right information, at the right time."