AT HOME IN THE CITY OF BIG PLANS
Cameron is an Aussie-turned-Chicagoan with a passion for cocktails and enjoying the culture, architecture, and food of his adopted city. At home in the City of Big Plans, he finds the perfect balance between work and play.
AT A GLANCE
Favorite watch complication
Casio as a kid
Enicar as an adult
Oak & Oscar timepiece(s)
Jackson Flyback Chronograph, Navy Blue
Sandford GMT, PVD
Embedded Systems Engineer & Manager
Favorite travel destination
Amusement parks (Europa Park in Germany being one of my favorites), and the mountains (I’ve always wanted to ski in Banff)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I grew-up in Melbourne Australia, specifically the suburb Doncaster (which I’m told is nothing like the Doncaster in England)! It was a very rural part of the city back then, and I have distinct memories of feeding horses on nearby farms, and building a BMX track through empty lots. Of course over time the freeway was built (so long, farms!), and the empty lots became houses, and that whole neighborhood now is promoted as being “just 20 minutes to downtown”.
In high-school we moved to the much more urban neighborhood of Prahran.
In 1995 I moved to Chicago for what was at the time my dream job: programming pinball machines. It sounds so quaint now, but that shaped my entire career. It shaped my entire life, in that 23 years later I’m still in Chicago.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS OR HOBBIES?
Honestly, I’m a fairly mellow person. Never one to “party”, what I typically do for fun is spend time with my close friends. I love entertaining, whether that be cooking meals or mixing drinks.
I also walk, a lot, and I’ll frequently walk to or from work (roughly 4 miles one way). I actually find walking somewhat meditative, and it really helps me get through difficult or stressful times. With the addition of the Jackson to my life, I know now precisely how long each walk takes!
Hidden talents I’ll decline to answer, but I will say I do a version of Heartbreaker (by Pat Benatar) that could stop traffic!
WHAT DREW YOU TO WORKING IN YOUR FIELD?
The “interactive kiosks” I mentioned earlier run the Android operating system, so the “technically correct” answer to this question is that I’m in this field because I was looking for Android engineering experience in order to broaden my skill-set. However I consider my field to really be “embedded systems development” and I’m drawn to that by both the simplicity and complexity of the problems one must solve on a day to day basis. Whether it’s developing machine-learning algorithms so the devices and self-diagnose problems, or designing new “network configuration” UI to make the devices easier to setup, embedded systems literally has it all. I admit that I didn’t specifically seek this out, I just really loved pinball and that introduced me to this wonderful world.
WHAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?
I’m one of those irritating morning people, so getting up in the morning is actually pretty easy for me. (However my roommate is not a fan)! My bedroom faces east, and I leave the curtains open so I can awake with the sunrise - it’s beautiful!
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN A CAREER? IN LIFE?
I think being loved and having someone to love. I don’t even necessarily mean a partner or spouse, good close friends can make the world of difference. With appropriate love and support, I feel one can accomplish anything.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR OR INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR LIFE?
Honestly I don’t have any single mentor or influential person in my life. There are engineers I’ve worked with, who I try to emulate. There are managers I’ve worked for, who I try to emulate. There are people in my social circle who I try to emulate. I’ve always believed that everyone is unique, each person is the sum of all the important people in their life; it’s a disservice to be influenced by just a single person.
Lately however, I’ve been inspired by people who have the support to enable them to take risks. I have a list a mile long of things I want to try, but I’m not in a position where I can quit my job and try them out, and that’s a bit of a bummer.
WHY DO YOU WEAR A WATCH?
I love time, and watches are a symptom of this. At home I have a cuckoo clock, a clock that displays time using 30+ small ball-bearings, and two mid-century clocks from the “Self Winding Clock Company”. As I type this, relaxing on my couch, I can hear three distinct clocks ticking.
This is never a fun obsession during the time-change, but every other day it’s awesome!
I’ve been programming since I was 9, so something like a smartphone or even the Internet doesn’t impress me because I know how it works, there’s no magic. But a mechanical timepiece is pure magic in my eyes: a collection of gears and springs which is tied into the very universe itself. No piece of software can ever come close to that.
WHAT DREW YOU TO OAK & OSCAR?
I initially read a review of the Burnham on a blog, and I was swept away by the whole thing:
Oak and Oscar is, for me, the summation of a love of Chicago, timepieces, taking risks, doing what you love, and of course Bourbon. These are, literally, my favorite things.