I need to heat up my brain. I would not enjoy making the same boards over and over again.

Interview with PCB Design Engineer at Consilia.

Petr Horák doesn't like to go down smooth ways, no matter whether it is mountain biking or work; that's why six years ago, he left the "quiet" world of the corporations and moved into a job that allows him to plan his work and leisure time.

“I think I have a pretty good work ethic and a piece of self-motivation to keep pushing myself in the industry. That's why I've found that I'm not entirely comfortable with the world of big companies, where processes often win out over actual performance and team meetings are held over every little detail. Here, personal responsibility is a key parameter for success - and it is not micromanaged unnecessarily,” says the PCB designer, who has now been working working for Consilia for six years.

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Consilia is a small company that built its business model on the support of entire projects and the provision of individual development competencies

Usually, the projects are processed in Brno, but when a situation calls for it, Consilia sends its “brains” directly to other companies to support them on-site.

When projects change, I grow in the eyes of our partners

“I like project thinking and focusing on one specific thing. But at the same time, after a while, I need to switch gears and start focusing on a completely different segment to get my brain heated up again. That's why I'm very keen on working on a variety of project types. For three months, it's the automotive industry, next six months the aerospace, then internet infrastructure, and maybe industrial segment or medical.

As the projects change, I also feel that I am growing in the eyes of our partners because I can then transfer approaches and solutions between the different sectors. I don't get bogged down by strict rules and repeatability for simpler boards or by really complicated and sophisticated assignments for scientific institutes. If I was constantly doing just one or the other, I'd probably need a change of scenery over time.

By taking turns at one job, I have a big advantage in this regard, and it broadens my technical overview. I wouldn't be bored of making the same boards all the time for a long time,” says Petr Horák, who followed his father in PCB design, and has been in the field of development and production of electrical equipment for more than thirty years.

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I'm not hiding under project managers

But when they get together in their hometown of Černá Hora, they talk only minimally about work. “We're both workaholics in a way, so we value our time together and deal with other things. If I am interested in a project, I am able to devote twelve hours a day to it. It comes with a certain amount of personal responsibility. I don’t hide under several project managers, I usually communicate directly with my customers. This way, I can see immediately and unmediated if they are really happy. It is also much easier to ‘brainstorm‘ directly about the project, its solution, modification, or improvement.

At the same time, however, I compensate for this intensive work by often ‘switching off‘ for a few weeks during summer and doing nothing,” he says with a smile. In his case, however, doing nothing is quite active - he cycles, goes to music festivals, or plays beach volleyball.

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Concentration on the project only

On average, they visit Brno offices once or twice a week. The rest of the time is spent at the home office or directly with customers. "Some project things are best discussed in person, and chatting with colleagues is, of course, also important, but most of the time, it is ideal to work in a tunnel. That is to say, to be locked up with the project, preferably disconnected from the internet, and social networks, ideally also from the phone, to be in a bit of a trance, wearing blinkers."

"This job requires combinatorial thinking, spatial imagination, and a lot of concentration. That's why working from home is a big benefit for me. In the quiet of your home without distractions, you can get a lot of quality work done in a shorter time," he explains.

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The Czech Republic is a small playground

[interview-otazka]How does the Consilia team work in practice, with everyone working as a bit of a solitaire at times?[interview-otazka]

“It's not for everyone, because for us, a really happy customer is our main goal. Even if they sometimes come with conflicting demands or expectations. And in order to deliver the job well and on time, it's often about extra hours, some self-initiative, or going above and beyond what is expected.

But I think that this is what helps us to continuously win more and more orders, even though Brno and, as a matter of fact, the Czech Republic is a relatively small place with not many senior layout engineers, designers, mechanics, or software engineers capable of diving into demanding projects. A lot of our clients are people who remember us from former companies or have received good references from former colleagues or partners. By often speaking for ourselves in projects, but also for the company, we fight a lot for our overall reputation,” explains Petr Horák.

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We are a tight-knit group

At the same time, he frankly admits that he can't say whether Consilia does more turnkey or “man-day” customer support. “I enjoy a varied mix in this respect too. For one thing, I've had the opportunity to get to know several company cultures over the years and work on interesting projects, and under the management of often inspiring people from outside.

On the other hand, on a turnkey project, the fact that we are a tight-knit group in the company is more evident, which is enhanced by the fact that we usually know each other from previous work experience. When a client comes to us with the need to make a complete solution but doesn't know how to do it and doesn't really want to solve it in detail, we put our heads together, and gradually various professions take turns on the project.

We have guys who will draw the mechanics while others will design the schematic, write the firmware, and I or a colleague will route the connections, and arrange to manufacture and deliver a working prototype. This is how we helped a German company in the recent past, for example, whose entire development team left overnight - and all we had was a disk with 'some source data'. Yet we were able to put together a product portfolio andalso innovate it quickly.

And these are exactly the moments I love about this job: when you manage a project that is difficult in many ways to the customer's satisfaction, the feeling is simply worth it,” concludes Petr Horák.

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