Career Profiles


Meet some of our team and learn more about the work that they do and the qualifications and experience required for each role.

Mike Pratt,
Technical Director
IDC China

Mike Pratt, Technical Director IDC China

What are your qualifications and where did you study?

I went to Brunel University which is a great uni to get into for engineering and design in particular. I studied a dual-award degree so I got a BSc and MEng.

At the time, design students were based on their own campus, so we were living and breathing design and it was an incredibly motivating and inspiring learning environment.

What was your work experience prior to IDC?

I landed an industrial placement with IDC as a student and have been with IDC ever since! Prior to that I had done placements with PDD and Ford.

Tell us about your career progression to date.

I joined as a graduate design engineer and spent 5.5 years in the UK studio, by which time I was a junior Project Manager.

Around 2010, IDC had been winning more and more projects from China clients and decided to invest in a new studio in Shanghai. I was asked to lead that office and very quickly found myself with many new responsibilities and experiences as General Manager.

As the studio grew I returned to my roots as Technical Director of the China office and have been at IDC China ever since.

Describe a typical day at work.

The studio in China is friendly and familial. Most of my time is spent working with the team on projects. This is a mixture of project management and liaising with clients, and working alongside the team here to progress our design and engineering, which can range from briefing and reviewing sessions, to brainstorms and lab work. I don’t do CAD anymore but I enjoy getting into the lab and experimenting with the team on new ideas.

Besides existing projects, a proportion of my time is focused on new project planning and pitching. It’s enjoyable to listen to a client’s requirements and figure out how to solve their problem. I also work on our systems and procedures for quality management and training.

What are your greatest achievements so far at IDC?

I think the most satisfying moment was when we moved from our original China studio, which was a little place above a coffee shop, to a much bigger studio with lab and conference room facilities.

Setting up the business in China meant stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on huge new responsibilities. I was driven by success and this meant a lot of hard work. When I went to China, growing out of that first office was my milestone of success. Having this opportunity so early in my career was amazing for my professional development and I had some memorable experiences during my first years in China.

Besides that, certain projects comprising a challenging problem and finally solving it have been really great experiences.

What are the biggest challenges in your role as Technical Director of IDC China?

If you could totally focus on a single project and design, things would be relatively easy. The reality is that there are multiple projects to service, each with their own issues and requirements; then there is the sales pipeline, training, new issues arising. I’m still learning how to improve effectiveness and efficiency and maintain focus on what’s most important without neglecting lower priorities.

In China, there are also language and cultural differences to overcome. We have a good balance of English and Chinese staff in the office, which really helps to build relationships with Chinese customers.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in product design?

I think you should recognise that your career will go through different seasons of skills and capabilities. So if you’re young, focus on skills. Become a superstar at multiple CAD apps; if you’re an engineer, develop your sketch skills and learn how to use Keyshot; figure out how to programme in Arduino; really focus on learning and self-development.

Secondly, realise that the success of something and yourself is mostly determined by your ability to communicate and work well with other people. This means developing yourself to be a good manager and leader of people. Therefore you have to embrace that challenge as early as possible in your career.

Michal Uhman,
Senior Design Engineer

Michal Uhman, Senior Design Engineer IDC

What are your qualifications and what was your work experience before joining IDC?

I did a Mechanical Engineering degree in Poland before I moved to the UK to study for my Master’s in Advanced Engineering Design. During the holiday I did an internship for Cisco. When I was at uni in Poland I also helped my father run his business.

Tell us about your career at IDC so far.

I started IDC as a Graduate Design Engineer straight after I left university. I successfully progressed my career and I am currently a Senior Design Engineer after working on many successful projects. More to come!

What's the best thing about working as an engineer at IDC?

I think that the opportunity to develop and learn with every project is the key. Working in a company like IDC provides you with a huge spectrum of projects and therefore a lot of responsibility. I don’t know if any other industry provides such a good learning path. Also, I find myself working with great, inspirational people.

What are your interests outside of work?

Well, I am a huge Star Wars fan and I built my own BB-8 droid over the last year and a half. I also have a YouTube channel where I talk about all sorts of nerdy stuff!

Can you give any advice for someone considering a career in product design or engineering?

Talking from the perspective of a mechanical engineer, I would say get a solid academic knowledge and learn all the engineering principles well. Learn creative thinking and problem solving skills – it’s a must. When I was at uni a lot of people focused only on CAD systems and had little knowledge about anything else really. You can master CAD packages anytime but when you are missing the foundations it’s more difficult. Make sure your knowledge is multidisciplinary, try and gather as much experience as you can during uni. Get into electronics, get into programming, as these play more and more important roles in the current market. And don’t forget placement. I can’t stress enough how much work experience matters. People who have experience of working professionally and work independently are the most successful people in the industry.

Peter Hiles,
Design Engineer

Peter Hiles

What's your degree background?

I studied Product Design BSc at Brunel University, with a placement year working at IDC.

Why did you choose a product design placement at IDC?

I chose IDC because of the high quality of work shown on the website. I wanted to work in a varied consultancy and IDC works on projects in a wide range of different sectors.

What do you like most about working at IDC?

I enjoy the quality of the work that I am given and the responsibility.

What did you do when you graduated?

Following my placement year at IDC, I was offered a position as a Design Engineer at IDC. This meant I went back to university for my final year knowing that I had a job to go to when I graduated.

Describe a typical day at work.

Though there’s not really an average day, I tend to work on around three projects throughout the day. This may be research, prototyping in the workshop, CAD work, ideation or a range of other things.

What are your interests outside work?

Mountaineering, running and kayaking.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in product design?

I would advise anyone looking for a career in product design to seriously consider a placement at IDC. Placements are a great way of developing skills and this role in particular set me up for the projects I faced in my final year.