Samsung is trying to ‘reinvent’ the smartphone – and believes foldable is the future

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Samsung Ireland’s Quentin Doran O’Reilly discusses the changing shape of electronics, the rise of security threats, and the ‘cool’ part of his job.

With 17 years’ experience in the mobile telecoms industry, Quentin Doran O’Reilly is now head of product management within the IT and mobile (IM) division for Samsung Ireland. This is the section of the electronics business that deals with mobile, tablet, PC and wearable technology.

After graduating from Trinity College Dublin, Doran O’Reilly went on to hold a number of positions across the telecoms sector, from both an operator and manufacturer perspective. He has spent the last 11 years with Samsung Electronics in Ireland.

‘When I started in mobile, manufacturers were constantly trying to reinvent the form factor of the cell phone’
– QUENTIN DORAN O’REILLY

What does your role entail?

It is a very broad remit, which gives me huge insight into the day-to-day workings of every aspect of the business. In this role, I have the opportunity to share my views on the market, identify where the next opportunity lies and, most importantly, ensure our portfolios fit our Irish customers’ needs.

It is my job to act as a bridge between Samsung headquarters in the UK and Samsung in Ireland. I help align the global strategy with that of the Irish market and I’m the guy who gets to introduce our customers to the latest innovations and devices from Samsung – which is, in a word, cool.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

Security is an area that is facing increased scrutiny both in and out of the technology sector. In the past, it has been viewed as primarily an enterprise issue, but we are seeing increasingly complex threats to individual’s digital security, such as fraud and phishing scams.

At Samsung, we take security seriously and understand the importance of delivering a safe and secure experience to our customers when using connected devices. We have a team of engineers that continually think of new ways to build on our security credentials, combating even the most sophisticated of threats in our connected world.

In order to challenge our assumptions, we also established the Samsung Mobile Security rewards programme, which offers incentives to researchers who identify potential vulnerabilities in our products.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

We live in an incredibly exciting time where technology is playing an ever-increasing role in both our work and personal lives. Within our IM division, there are some really exciting things happening.

When I started in mobile, manufacturers were constantly trying to reinvent the form factor of the cell phone. There were sliders, jack-knives, candy bars, clamshells and a whole host of devices with shapes that didn’t even have a name. When smartphones hit the market, it put an end to this – because, no matter what, you needed a single sheet of solid glass screen and that limited design innovation.

This limitation is now old and with the introduction of foldable glass technology, Samsung is leading the way in reinventing what can be done with a smartphone. Foldables are at the fore of innovative smartphone design. It reintroduces some of the old favourite designs, while bringing a whole new world of productivity and possibilities to the smartphone market.

In the wireless audio category, we are seeing huge growth as people consume media and use wearable technology as a health and fitness companion. Due to this increasing trend, we launched the Samsung Galaxy Buds family of products. The same applies to the smartwatch category, where the Samsung Galaxy Watch series offers the ability to not only track your fitness but also keep up to date with work and social media without needing to reach for your smartphone.

The reintroduction of our computing business in 2020 saw strong growth as the demand for laptops for home working and education grew. We expect this growth and opportunity will continue into 2022 and with our new Samsung Galaxy Book portfolio, we have an incredibly compelling line up for both end consumers and enterprise.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

It was circuitous, but then all the worthwhile journeys are. After college and about five years working in the public relations and event management sector, I made the move to Vodafone, where I discovered my love for working in technology.

I spent six very happy years there in the handset testing department. Through this role, I got involved in end-user issue resolution for Vodafone’s enterprise clients, which then allowed me to gain an understanding of the network side of the business.

In 2010, I took on a technical product manager role in Samsung’s Irish office and I’ve never looked back.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I lead a team of incredibly talented engineers and product managers. It’s my job to provide both short and long-term focus and direction, as well as give support and guidance where needed.

The method that has worked best for me is providing the ‘why’ at the outset of a project. Why do we need to resolve a given issue? Why do we need to launch this flagship? Why do we need a new process or system?

Once that’s understood, then we work on the ‘how’. This is solved through collaboration. I might have an idea of the ‘how’, but my team might have a better one. It’s always important to listen as my way is not always the only, nor indeed, the right way!

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Across the technology sector, there are issues with gender diversity, specifically in senior management positions. But there’s no question that we need greater diversity in the technology industry to reflect our customer base and bring together different perspectives.

We believe that innovation and growth are driven by an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce. To do this, we have brought about diversity initiatives such as conscious inclusion training for management, and various employee resource groups to retain and develop minorities in the workplace such as women, people of colour, and those in the LGBTQ+ community.

I truly believe that teaching our youth about diversity and inclusion in the workplace will help the next generation be even stronger. I got the opportunity to support the BT Young Scientist awards and the Schools Digital Champion Programme over the last few years, where I worked to impart this message and share the understanding that technology is for everyone.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

Over the years there have been many, I’ve been terribly lucky. There are likely 10 different people who have in one way, manner, shape or form, helped me to get where I am now.

The easy bit is getting advice, the hard bit is learning to listen and take constructive criticism and action where needed. No matter what the situation, you can take valuable learnings and next time you will do it better. It is important to learn from our failures and build on our successes. This idea has become a central pillar of everything I do.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Stuart Diamond’s Getting More is very good book to help learn about negotiation. It centres around treating people as people, not as jobs or projects or targets. It offers a different perspective on both personal and business life and is well worth a read.

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is another good one. It shares insights into listening to that voice in your head and understanding what drives your emotions and anxiety. In so doing, you can learn to be more positive and productive in your way of working. 

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Does coffee count? It is, unquestionably, central to my weekly arsenal.

I’ve started walking in the mornings, up to 10km before I start working. I find it centres me and helps to bring a bit of perspective. I don’t tend to bring any media or distractions with me, I just let my mind wander. I often get home with a plan for the day and solutions to problems that I had been struggling with.

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