How’d You Get Here with Paul Scott: A Professional Journey

Inductive Conversations

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In this new installment of How’d You Get Here, Paul Scott sits down with Arnell J. Ignacio to take a trip back in time to explore Paul’s professional journey. They talk about Paul’s early experiences at Inductive Automation to where he currently is now. Paul also shares insight about what it is like to work at Inductive Automation, what makes IA such a unique place, his journey at Inductive Automation, and much more. We also get a peek into Paul’s interests and what he sees for the future.

“You join a new company, you learn a bit about the company culture and stuff like that, but also the industry itself since that was all new to me, like a lot of folks we end up hiring out of college, they may not necessarily have industrial automation experience at all.”

Paul Scott
Training Content Manager, Inductive Automation

Paul Scott joined Inductive Automation in 2013. He began in the Support Department as a Support Engineer and later moved on to become an instructor, where most of his time was spent teaching the Ignition training courses, as well as developing content for both the Ignition User Manual and Inductive University. Paul currently holds the title of Training Content Manager, where he continues to develop documentation and training material.


Arnell: Hello and welcome to Inductive Conversations. My name is Arnell J. Ignacio, and we're here again with another episode of How Did You Get Here and sometimes I ask myself how I get here. But we're not gonna talk about that, we're gonna talk to Paul Scott, he's the Training Content Manager from Inductive Automation and we're going to explore his journey here at Inductive Automation. Paul, thank you for joining us today.

Paul: Well, thanks for having me. How did we get here? It's a pretty deep question.

Arnell: It is a pretty good question. Yeah, yeah, so we're here in person and we've been doing these interviews remotely which is fine, but I figured we come back to the office and enjoy in-person conversation. So thank you for joining.

Paul: Sure, yeah. We're largely a remote-first company, so having in-person conversations is kinda nice again, or doing that more and more, so yeah, super excited to be here.

Arnell: Yeah. And it's also nice to have the view that we have here at the office, our location, we're just lucky to have a place next to Lake Natoma here in Folsom, California. So it's great.

Paul: To be honest, I feel like you're trying to spoil me with a view. You got all the plants going on, you get the... It’s like, wow, this is really nice.

Arnell: I'm trying to distract you. Paul, before we jump into our conversation, please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do here at Inductive Automation.

Paul: Sure, yeah, so my current title is Training Content Manager. What that basically means is I'm responsible for our written technical documentation. In most cases that means like user manual content, knowledge-based articles in our support portal, but also some odds and ends sort of things, some occasional technical documents we're asked to help out with. And then I also manage the team that's responsible for Inductive University. So I help them with planning new courses, new video ideas, and just keeping everything up-to-date.

Arnell: Yeah, the work that you've done with Inductive University and with all the training content, it has been phenomenal. Our community has benefited a lot with that content, and it's fairly easy now to learn Ignition with everything that's out there, but we had a conversation before this and we talked about where you were before coming to Inductive Automation. Can you talk a little about that? 

Paul: Yeah, sure. So before I joined Inductive Automation, I actually worked in a lot of food service sort of jobs. I was a bartender last at a restaurant, and it was a good career path initially, but it was just one of those things I was doing to help pay bills during high school, in college, so that's sort of my start, and then I worked on a couple of degrees, I have a psychology degree and then I have a game design degree, I also acquired, and then once I got both of them. It was time to sort of move on.

Arnell: So yeah, you started with a psychology degree, I also have a psychology degree.

Paul: Oh.

Arnell: So what made you decide to pick up the game development? 

Paul: Sure, so it's kind of a weird story 'cause I don't think I ever really learned how college works. So basically I got out of high school and like a lot of people I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And so I took a bunch of elective courses and then I went into psychology because I really liked the class. I liked what the field tried to do, I liked the whole trying to explain why people do the things they do. I find it really interesting, so I kinda started going down that path, but then I reached a point where I was like, "Well, what kind of career opportunities are there for me, well, why am I doing this?" So I still found it interesting, but I figured, well, maybe I kinda pivot a little bit and see if I can find something that's a bit more, there's not necessarily more curiosity with, but maybe a bit more passion in.

Paul: And one of the things I've always sort of been interested in is gaming, mostly video gaming, but board games, card games, stuff like that, I've always just sort of enjoyed, and it turns out there's a lot of overlap between psychology and sort of game development. A lot of the decisions you make when you put a game together or you're starting to build it, you're doing it because you're sort of trying to guide the player through a certain experience or whatever, so ended up being a pretty natural pivot, and that's kind of what led me there and that's why I have two degrees because I couldn't really figure out initially what I wanted to do. Yeah.

Arnell: No, no, but I think having all that experience is great. I understand the whole psychology degree, that's what I graduated with that degree. But then I ended up in marketing, but it's in that same vein, you use a lot of that psychology, and I think there's a lot of useful things in psychology because a lot of the stuff that we're doing right now deals with people and building products or building solutions or anything of that matter that deals with people, psychology is very useful in that manner, so same thing. And with marketing is you're trying to figure out what would be the best way to get people to understand a product or to know about a product, or why it would be useful for them, so. But that's really cool, and I think it's great to have all that experience. So you have this gaming degree, which is really cool. I think it's pretty interesting. So the question is, what got you into industrial automation? How did you find Inductive Automation? How did that all pan out? 

Paul: Yet another little pivot I did there. So around the time I was wrapping up the Game Development degree, I got news that my first niece was on the way, so it was the first time I was gonna be an uncle. And it was kind of a weird point in my life because I've mostly stayed in California. I didn't really travel a whole lot, usually to adjacent states and stuff like that. So the original plan with the game development stuff was to basically get away from California and go see other parts of the country. Nothing wrong with California. I love California. I'm super happy to be here, but I just thought it was a good opportunity, starting a new career, may as well try to find a job somewhere else in the country that I could really kinda work my way into.

Paul: And I wanna say around that time, I believe Seattle and Houston were two sort of large pockets of like there's a lot of interesting stuff going on with independent game developers and stuff like that, so I was like, "Oh, I should probably move there, try to find a job I can work. Try to move there and then try to get in that and move forward with that," but then I heard about my niece, I was like, "Well, do I wanna be the remote uncle?" And I didn't. So I was like, well, let me broaden my search a little bit. So I started looking for tech jobs, stuff that folks with a computer science degree would typically go through and try to see what experiences mapped over and Inductive Automation ended up being one of those. And it seems like it's been working out all right so far. 

Arnell: And so I would imagine that you had, in the midst of your search, you had other opportunities that were available to you, and so I'm wondering, so what about Inductive Automation that drew you in and you said, I wanna work for this organization.

Paul: So a lot of the times when you're applying for a lot of these jobs, you're trying to figure out what the company does, and I didn't really have any background with SCADA, HMI, the entire industrial automation world. But I did go to the website and I downloaded the software I was like, "Oh, it's free and I can just download it. There's trial and what not," but yeah. And so I was able to install it, I got the designer open, and back then we... As far as visualization, we only really had Vision at the time, but I was able to find my way to that area of the designer, and then I saw, oh, there's button components, and tables, I was like, “Oh, you're building a screen for people. That's what that is.” And so I started messing around a bit more then I was like, “Okay, I think this is something I could really…” Maybe it was a little bit of over-confidence at the time, yeah, I could work with this 'cause it was for a support position I was, like “I think I could probably learn this and help people out with it” at the time, so, but yeah.

Arnell: That's really great. And it speaks to the product, being able to download it and then being able to use it and then be able to see what you can do with it, and I think a lot of our customers have had that experience, but it's really interesting to get your perspective on that. And so you mentioned that the position that you applied here was for a support position, so let's travel back in time. What were your thoughts when you first started in that position, what was going through your mind? Just take us through that.

Paul: This is where we do the cool time travel, a little like effect.

Arnell: We could try.

Paul: Yeah, so back then I joined, I applied for a support position, joined. Got that. I stayed at that position a little under two years. But yeah, when I joined the company, that's when I remember the... Doing a lot of learning, which is true for a lot of jobs. You join a new company, you learn a bit about the company culture and stuff like that, but also the industry itself since that was all new to me, like a lot of folks we end up hiring out of college, they may not necessarily have industrial automation experience at all. So I remember it was kind of funny because I've spent all these years in college, in high school, learning about stuff, kind of like a lot of theoretical stuff, some applied but it was never really like... And I didn't need to apply this knowledge on the day to day yet I was sort of prepping myself so I could get a job, but then I'm on site and it's like, “Okay, time to learn what a PLC is” and then we go into the old server room back at the building in the plot we're in, and Steve [Hechtman] was in there, he's like pointing out what the PLC is, like these are the inputs to this and that.

Paul: And I was like, oh, okay, cool, I have all this context. I know I'm gonna maybe need to talk about these things, so it was kind of like this refreshing, I'm learning about something because it's very much going to be something I need to deal with in the next couple of months. So there's a lot of that. But yes, but the next, like I said, a little under two years sort of getting involved in support, starting to take phone calls, starting to meet with members of our community, which was actually kind of exciting too because our support doesn't really work the same way a lot… There's a negative stigma with customer support in a lot of areas. For whatever reason, and that really wasn't us. Our Support team, even to this day, it takes a lot of pride in customer service and treating folks fairly, not treating people poorly, you're making them wait long times or go through some lengthy escalation progress or something like that, and I think actually my years in customer service kinda gave me a little bit of an edge there. 'Cause it's... Again, we're not reading from scripts or anything, we're trying to empathize with people and see what the issue is and try to really work with them and not... This may sound weird, but we're not working at them if they... So to speak.

Arnell: Yeah.

Paul: So yeah, no, I think it kinda helped that a lot.

Arnell: Yeah, and I think that's pretty interesting that you bring up the topic of how people come into this industry. For myself, I was in marketing and then other individuals that take computer science degrees or business degrees and a lot of the times they're... And maybe not for all, but just a majority of people are looking to work in the Silicon Valley area or the tech industry, more of the business to consumer end, so they're looking at those organizations, startups, a lot of venture-funded organizations, but a lot of individuals that I've talked to here and have interviewed, have mentioned they didn't plan on going into this industry, but once they were in this industry, they really took hold to it and they excelled at this organization, so it's really cool to hear.

Arnell: So you talked about the two years that you were working in Support, so let's look at that and then actually take us to where you are now, talk about what skills you picked up along the way. Some of the projects that you worked on. And then how did you end up where you are now? Walk us through that.

Paul: Yeah, so when I came again, I had kind of a different background than I think most folks coming here, they have the full Computer Science degree or something like that. I had this really like you're making game sort of focus, so I learned a bit about programming, like a C++ was what I learned on. I wouldn't say I'm a developer, but I know enough to be dangerous, I think is the saying. You know what I mean? So I could understand the concepts in there. And so when I joined this company, Python was sort of Ignition's programming language of choice, so to speak. So that was a pretty easy pivot for me to do, but there was a lot of stuff it turns out I just didn't really have a whole lot of background on, so. SQL databases, for example. Never touched them in college, I had no... I knew they existed, but I didn't really like... There wasn't really much of a need for me to learn about it, so I had to learn about that. General networking concepts. I can mess around with my router at home but it usually involves unplugging and plugging back in, so I had to learn a little bit more.

Paul: So there's, and fortunately, there's a lot of, sort of, time and a lot of resources at the company to help with those, so if you're running into these things on a ticket and you need help, there's a lot of other people you can pull from, so. So I ended up learning a lot as I went, but then I reached a point where there was an instructor position that was opened up and I was kind of on the fence of taking it. It sounded fun because I found that I really enjoyed learning these things and then trying to explain them to people who are calling in so they could be like, “Oh, they have that like, oh, I got it” moment.

Paul: So I was thinking about it but I felt bad leaving the team. I think back then I was one of six support reps, so if someone left you felt it. So I was like, “I don't wanna leave” but then Peggie Wever who you actually, you've interviewed in the past. I was talking with her, she was like, "You should go for it." She was like "I think you'd do well there." I was like, "Okay," so I did, and then I ended up becoming an instructor. I stayed or I worked in the instructor position for about four years actually, and I did more than teach the class, I taught classes, I helped with grading certification tests as well as writing new tests. Inductive University came along, and I started helping out with that, and then I also started writing more articles, so that's where I started helping out with the user manual a bit more.

Arnell: Yeah, and I have to say, a lot of stuff that I've been working with in marketing, you're my go-to in terms of asking questions because you do a phenomenal job explaining the concepts within Ignition, and so I think anyone who has taken any of the training courses or who has watched IU would attest to that as well, but yeah. And I think it's phenomenal that also there are some things that you haven't been privy to, but in the course of you working here, you have developed that knowledge base and that expertise, 'cause I would say you are one of the main experts here in Inductive Automation on the platform, and you're also working, like you mentioned on the content for ICC this year and so I just think it's fantastic for where you began, and for where you are now that you are driving a lot of the training content and delivering exceptional value to our customers, and I think it's great that you are here providing that, so yeah, thank you. Yeah.

Paul: Don't be too nice to me. People are gonna think you I'm paying you or something to say nice thing like, come on like...

Arnell: No. I'll get it later though.

Paul: I'll also get a check, don't worry. No, it's kind of you to say, I appreciate it, but it's funny because to be honest I feel like I'm still very ignorant of a lot of things. There's still a lot of people I go to at the company, 'cause there's a lot of stuff I don't quite understand. Travis Cox, Kevin McClusky. I see those guys as like a top-tier knowledge. I'm frequently trying to pick up tidbits from them, but yeah, it's kind of you to say, “Yeah, I try to stay a float,” 'cause I feel like with this company, we're always moving, there's always something new, we're trying to new, either new market we're trying to get to in a way we're doing this by adding a better feature or a better way to integrate with that thing or maybe solutions with the existing feature. So it's one of those things where you just gotta be willing to keep learning, keep growing.

Arnell: That's a good point, and yeah, we do have some really heavy duty experts here at Inductive Automation as you mentioned, Travis, Kevin. I think to a certain degree though, they have that wealth of knowledge, but I think there is some value to be able to get that knowledge into a digestible realm. Yeah. And you're able to take that information, you're able to understand that information and then you're also able to distill it in a way that a good portion of our community can understand it, either from advanced users or to people who are just first learning about Ignition. I think that is a very important and very valuable to have, to be able to communicate a lot of the concepts and a lot of these things, so that a good portion of our customer base is able to understand how to use the software.

Paul: Oh, good, yeah. That was one of my goals. There's this thing called the Curse of Knowledge. If you haven't heard about it, it's basically this idea that if you have an expert who's got really deep knowledge of some area or some field, it's actually kind of hard for them to tell a novice about some of the aspects of that field because the expert is so familiar with things that they consider basic knowledge at this point, but realistically your lay person isn't gonna know what they're talking about at all. So there's this metaphorical block and knowledge transfer here, where the experts telling you the things you need to hear, but you don't know what that means. It's almost like it's a different language, and I think that's where technical writing and a lot of, like, the guys... And a lot of stuff that's sort of what really interests me is like, oh okay, I understand this now.

Paul: “How did I struggle to learn these concepts and how can I make it easier?” And that's really what this field’s all about, is just trying to take these complex things and then make them as approachable as you can, 'cause it's not that they're impossible to understand, it's just that there's a lot to know and you gotta know where to start, and you gotta really write for, I don't wanna say a certain audience, but a certain audience, in a certain head space. You really gotta account for that, so yeah, you have these people who, just brilliant, they do great things, but sometimes they might struggle trying to relate that to someone else, and that's sort of the market I've, “market” in air quotes, I've sort of worked my way into.

Arnell: And I asked this question from a lot of our interviewees, and I'm kinda getting a sense of the answer that people say, but did you envision yourself in the place that you are now? 

Paul: No. I like where I am, don't get me wrong. There's a lot of joy that we have had in this position and the things I work on, but no, again, I came from a background where I didn't really know what I was trying to do. I liked learning about how people work and I liked messing around with games and whatnot, so yeah, the idea that I'm writing articles, explaining how to do a thing, making videos, showing how to do a thing, reviewing these things that other people have made is... I don't know if I talked to myself 10 years ago, I think my past self wouldn't believe my future. Yeah.

Arnell: So along those lines, as you mentioned about what you like to do and kind of the market that you've found yourself in, what excites you about working here? What drives your day to day? 

Paul: So it's really satisfying to put together some sort of guide, some sort of article, something that's trying to show people how something works and then see people using it and then getting knowledge of it. There's something just kind of uniquely satisfying, maybe not uniquely, a lot of integrators that are building solutions for their customers and they see their people learning, they're picking up how to... The operators are learning how to use it. There's probably some joy there. And I think it's true for a lot of things. An artist makes some painting or drawing and someone wants to buy it because they really like it. And it's kind of a similar idea. I'm making all these articles and guides and it's... People are actually finding them useful.

Paul: They're finding them helpful. People are like, "Oh, I went through the docs and it got me this far." But then they end up having some unique question. I see stuff like that on the forums frequently or I hear about it and it's like, "Oh, cool, we got them 80% of the way there. That's good." We can't get every case, we can't solve necessarily every problem with asynchronous information. It's kind of hard. You can't answer questions but you just try to get them to a point where they're at least mostly there and then the rest of the stuff, the community, the docs can hopefully help them get the rest of the way there. So I think that's really what drives me is just being able to create these things that people end up finding useful or helpful.

Arnell: So we talked about the things that you liked and what is important to you and why you liked working here at IA. And so, let's talk about the company itself. So what, when working for a company, what are the most important things to you? 

Paul: I think what really stands out for me right now is there's sort of this idea that you're larger companies and we keep growing. They feel very sterile and cold. Every employee is just a, another person amongst thousands or whatever. I don't really feel that here. We're growing. I keep seeing new faces and that's good, but at the same time, I don't feel like my opinion doesn't matter, I don't feel like I'm just this expendable person they're gonna toss aside. There's a, if I could get kind of, out there with it, it feels warm. It has a very family-style feeling where it's we're all trying to work together to do this larger thing of helping this community of people with this product and it's never felt like too businessy to turn me off. And I think that's something that would probably push me away from a lot of places, but no, here it just feels great.

Arnell: So yeah, let's dive into that a little bit more. 'Cause I remember when I first started here at Inductive Automation, we were at the Palladio and it felt like it was very... The office was more of an intimate setting just because everyone was closer. So when we moved from the Palladio into this... Into our new headquarters here, near Lake Natoma, did you feel like any of that changed or, and then also with the pandemic and we went remote-first, did you feel like any of that changed or have we still retained that warm feeling, that familial feeling here at Inductive Automation? 

Paul: Honestly, no. I didn't really feel like it. If anything, I felt like we've maintained it after the move. It was just like, “Oh, it's a new building.” But people are in different spots now. We got more room though so I got more conference rooms and stuff, so no, I don't think we ever really lost that.

Arnell: And so, from your point of view what makes Inductive Automation a unique place to work at? 

Paul: So every company has their users that are fans of them and support them and whatnot. I really like our community. We have a... Maybe this is true for other SCADA/HMI companies, I don't know. But I love how talented everyone is and how friendly it everyone is, 'cause technically a lot of people using the software should be competing with each other but it's like, you go to the forums, you meet them at the conference, you talk to them on the phones and they're just super happy to share whatever knowledge or information they have. So it's like you have this group of people that are just genuinely hard-working folks that are just helpful. And for a number of reasons we, they, ended up sort of surrounding us as a company.

Paul: They're around us. It's our community that we're a part of and it's nice to be at a company like this that has these fans that are just really supportive and really like what we do because, well, we're trying to support them. We haven't turned a cold shoulder or anything. Not to get too in the weeds with it but a lot of folks that are listening to this have probably heard Steve talk about the four pillars of the company. And one of that always stood out to me was the ethical model. 'Cause that tells me the way I interpret that and the way I see that too is that a lot of the company decisions we make, starting at the top level and working the way down is really focused on the community.

Paul: I can't really share details on it, but it's funny to see how often we'll sort of show that we're gonna try to do something or we're gonna move in some direction and then if there's a negative response to the community there's this like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, hold on. Let's take a look at this real quick.” 'Cause we're trying to not put stuff out there that is... That people don't want or is frustrating or is it gonna make their life miserable? We're trying to keep them happy. So, again, that kind of ties back to this whole idea of just, there's this... I'm at this company that has these people that really like the company and we're trying so hard to make sure that that's maintained. So, yeah.

Arnell: Yeah. I think that that's a great point. And our community is exceptional in the way that they have worked with us. And, at ICCs it's evident that there's this collaborative nature. People are not there. You don't feel like people are there trying to protect information. They're genuinely there trying to figure out how to solve something. And they come together, they're collaborative and it's amazing what comes out of those conversations. It's amazing to see what solutions come out of people who come to ICC and they collaborate and they say, “Oh, this is what we can do.” And it's just amazing how things have grown. And also in the way that our software is developed in a sense, our community is very pivotal in the way we add features.

Arnell: We have the forums, we have the feature requests. And of course we don't, we can't add everything. We go through a process to vet it out, but we actually go and listen to our customers because they are the ones who are figuring out what this software can do. We've created the platform. It does a lot of stuff but our customers are the ones who are seeing, "Oh, we could do this, we could do this, and we could do this." And we just keep seeing this innovation that continues over and over again. And I think, and this goes into the next question about the culture of the company. And so, there's a collaborative effort on our community, within our community but there's also a collaborative effort within the culture here at IA. Do you want to talk a little bit more about that? 

Paul: Yeah, no, it's... I'm finding it more and more as I stay with the company just because, a lot of the times I have to work on different projects or different plans, but it's... I'm frequently talking with people all over. This isn't the first time you or I have worked together on something, right? 

Arnell: Yeah.

Paul: We've been doing a lot. But it's not just you too. It's... You'll find that there's people collaborating at different levels, different divisions within the company, which is good. 'Cause I think that's how we end up accomplishing so much. You always, again, you always kind of hear this idea that if things get a little too bureaucratic it's really hard to make changes. What's the saying? It's like the larger the ship, the harder to turn or something like that.

Arnell: Yeah.

Paul: But we've been able to sort of stay really agile in regards to trying to put out new ideas, do new things. And I think it's largely because we've... We initially had this foundation when the company was put together, that was sort of focused on growth for the company. The original... The way the organization was put together by Wendi-Lynn Hechtman was, she was very focused on growth and she kind of helped cater that and develop it. And because of that we have the entire structure of the company is sort of built out in such a way where it's super easy to work together. Which is great for me, 'cause I feel like...

Paul: I can always, like, find answers to questions or the right set of eyes to look at something. Yeah.

Arnell: Along the lines of collaboration here at the office and, we're able to work easily with each other. Do you find that Inductive Automation gives you what you need to succeed here? 

Paul: Oh yeah, absolutely. I haven't really... If I've ever been blocked on something it's usually 'cause of some crazy circumstances. But usually there's like, if I need input or some assistance with something we have the people that can help advise on it or offer whatever guidance whatever input they have or if we don't have it internally, then usually we have the means to go and find that information. So, yeah. No, I've... Can hardly think of a time where I felt blocked entirely and like, oh, we just, we don't know what to do and we can't do something about this at the company. Inductive Automation usually provides. Yeah.

Arnell: No. And I agree with that. Everything that we do here it's all success driven and people are given the tools that they need. Especially, for example, Support. We have the Technical Pathways Program where people have a vision of where they can start within Support and then they could see the direction they would like to move into the company, whether you go into Development, whether it goes into Quality Assurance, or any other division they would like to go into. And so I think, there's a lot of things here at Inductive Automation where we've provided a lot of tools for people to build their careers and to succeed and to progress. And I think it's a fantastic thing to see. And yeah, and truly, just your journey shows, like, how you've succeeded here and it's great to see that. So during your time here at Inductive Automation what are some of the most memorable moments for you? 

Paul: I think what stood out to me the most was the first ICC I attended. We already kind of talked about this community that's around us, but I joined the company in December, 2013, which is a couple months after the first conference. And you've heard the stories the company put on the conference but they were really uncertain on who was gonna show up. And it turned out a lot of people did. So I joined the company sort of on the tail end of all of the excitement. It was like, “Oh, it worked.” People liked it.

Paul: And, I was joining Support and people were like, "Oh, you work in Support. Oh, people are gonna want to talk to you." I'm like, "Wait, what do you mean they're gonna wanna talk... I just started, what are you talking about?" and so you're hearing about... Which makes sense 'cause you... A lot of the people that call in a lot of the times they end up going and you get to meet them face to face. And so when I first went to the... I should say when I went to the 2014 ICC, my first one, I was like, “Oh, I get it.” 'Cause I was really like my first real deep dive into the community. 'Cause I've been talking on the phones at that point. I was learning a little bit about it, but it wasn't really until that moment it hit me. I was like, “Oh, okay.” A lot more things were making sense on, who we're serving and who we're trying to help out and all that. So that ended up being a really exciting moment. I remember swollen up with pride of like, "Oh, I can help these people. They're doing these crazy cool things." And I'm doing a small part of it of assisting them, but it's, it just feels good to help with that. You help them do awesome things.

Arnell: Yeah. Well, many years later now you are knee deep in the content for ICC this year. You're gonna be driving quite a lot of it and so, now you're providing a lot more than when you had, or were capable of doing back, when they had the first ICC. So yeah. No, I think it's fantastic that you're now working on that.

Paul: Yeah, It's exciting but it's also kind of terrifying 'cause it's like...

Arnell: Yeah, I can imagine that.

Paul: It's been so successful and it's like, oh man, I... These are big shoes to fill. Hopefully, I do a good job. But, yeah, no, I'm excited for this year too. It's, I feel like that initial excitement is still there. So very much looking forward to seeing how this year develops and hopefully people like it, but we'll see.

Arnell: No, I think people enjoy it. 

Paul: If I'm never part of ICC again, you know why, right?

Arnell: I know. We'll, see you next year for sure. Okay, cool. So now you're here at this point, what do you foresee the future, here at Inductive Automation, industry as a whole and for yourself? 

Paul: Sure. So, obviously hard to predict the future but seeing how the company moves, seeing how the company operates. Again, it's kind of hard to tell folks that are outside, but it's, the company is very reactive to new trends and new ideas. We hear about a new technology, there's a lot of people internally saying, “Okay, well what does that mean for us? How does that... What does that mean for our community? How can we help? How can we get involved in that? Can we already, do we already have the tools? Do we…” Stuff like that. So I think I see, regardless of what comes, I see a lot of success for the company. Obviously I have some bias on it, but no, that's sort of just how we've been operating.

Paul: We don't rest on our laurels here. That's just a thing we don't do. So we're always trying to challenge ourselves to see how can we continue to be helpful? How can we continue to support this community that's built, been sort of growing around us. So, yeah. But I am seeing more and more, these more, new technologies are coming in. Like Industry 4.0 is something we've been talking about for a while now. There's more and more information, more and more details which is good. But, there's always gonna be new stuff coming down the pipe. And so I think we'll be ready for it.

Arnell: So we've talked about your journey here at Inductive Automation. We've talked about what you enjoy doing here and then also what you see in the future. Let's jump outside of that and talk about what you like to do outside of work here. So tell us, what do you enjoy? What's your interests? What drives you? 

Paul: So I'm a big nerd.

Paul: So obviously I went on, worked on a degree to make video games. And so that's still sort of a hobby. I do after hours, just sort of independent game development stuff. That all kind of started with a lot of modding and making custom maps and stuff for games. A lot of the times video games would have tools that allow you to make your own sort of stuff that lived inside of the game. That's kind of where it started. And then...

Arnell: Sure, sure.

Paul: Over time it's like, "Oh, I can make additional mods." And so I've built mods and pushed them up to Steam. Steam's like a gaming platform or a host a bunch of games and stuff. But it also supports modders. And so I've contributed to that. Little known fact about me. I've also dabbled in game journalism actually, so.

Arnell: Oh, oh, cool.

Paul: A friend of a friend of a friend has a gaming culture sort of website that they hosted and so they needed help writing articles. So I've gotten review copies of games and written reviews, did previews. I've actually traveled. So, it's kind of funny. I talked about my journey here. I was originally trying to relocate just to start a job, but then I ended up staying in California thinking, “Okay, I'm not gonna travel all that much.” But then when I was an instructor, I traveled across the country teaching Ignition classes, but then for this journalism thing I also traveled and went to conventions and interviewed folks and it was pretty crazy.

Paul: But yeah. That kind of slowed down a little bit. Once COVID hit and the quarantine hit, there was a lot less conventions, a lot less traveling going on. So, but something I'd like to try to pick up... Start picking up again. All the stuff I should say I've done under a different... I did  use a pen name 'cause I'm trying to keep my IA life and, like, sort of gaming stuff I do separate. But, yeah.\

Arnell: Okay.

Paul: Aside from that, I play a lot of board games with friends and there's usually with board games, the more kind of involved ones, the ones that take you several hours to play. And there's a whole bunch of setup. They end up having a lot of little plastic figurines and miniatures. I started painting those just for fun.

Arnell: Oh, cool.

Paul: And nowadays I play a lot of tabletop RPGs, so things like Dungeons and Dragons.

Arnell: Okay, okay.

Paul: Which has little miniatures. And so I... As a hobby, I like painting them, putting a little flock on them and stuff like that. So it's, nothing I wanna show off 'cause again, there's a whole world of amazing artists that do it. I'm just trying to...

Arnell: Hey.

Paul: Get better at it, but it's...

Arnell: No, that's cool.

Paul: Yeah.

Arnell: I think that's really cool, because, you can just play the game, but I feel like when you start getting into more of it by painting or creating more of the characters, you get more into the game, I think there's more involvement. I think that's something that's pretty cool. And in terms of the game development, is there a genre that attracted you or something that you wanted to work on in that area?

Paul: Sure. So it's probably bad for me to admit for my parents, but there was this genre called Survival Horror, which is exactly what it sounds like. You're trying to survive in a kind of horrific sort of... Think like a horror movie kind of trope that always... That kind of drew me in when I was in my teenage years. And I started messing around with that. So that was a big motivator for me was to try to make those sorts of experiences. And those were kind of interesting too because, if you know anything about like or at least a little bit about making films, that sounds a big part of it. Especially for horror films. If you try to watch a scary movie and you just put it on mute it's not that bad.

Arnell: Yeah, yeah.

Paul: And that's... But that's true for games too. So, you find a lot of games out there that have some amazing audio work where it's not just they're playing sound effects like here or there. You're not hearing goofy little boing noises or whatever. It's not like they're, you're trying to create an ambiance, you're trying to set a mood. Maybe sometimes it's you're trying to build excitement. Sometimes you're maybe trying to get something a little bit tenser 'cause you don't want the player to know what's around the corner, that sort of thing. So, but to be honest when it comes to building games, it's been a bit of a mix. I find that sort of the genre I want to kind of keep building towards.

Paul: But every once in a while I get an idea in my head where it's something a little bit goofier or smaller or simpler in scope. Visual novels are really easy to make because it's just like text and selections and stuff on screen. And that's great because if you wanted to just be silly or have some jokes or just kind of have fun with it, it's a little bit lighthearted. There's sort of a, it's kind of a trend or maybe an in joke in game development in that you're not actually a game developer until you finish your first project. 'Cause that's, what ends up happening is you find these people who are really creative and they wanna make a bunch of things. But then they get a new idea. It's like, “Well what do I do with this old thing? Well, I'm gonna put it in the pile with all the other things I haven't finished yet.” So it's funny, it's one of those things where I just kinda, same issue. I kinda keep coming up with things that I wanna work on. So, kind of a long answer to your question, so.

Arnell: Oh no, no.

Paul: Definitely the more horror stuff but I kind of explore and I mess around with a lot of different things.

Arnell: I wanna ask you about your experience when you were in the restaurant industry.

Paul: Sure.

Arnell: When you were bartending. Is that something that you do occasionally still? 

Paul: No.

Arnell: No?

Paul: Well...

Arnell: Not for...

Paul: Not at that level.

Arnell: Not at that level. But do you like at parties, do you end up becoming the bartender? 

Paul: So it's funny, I do by reputation.

Arnell: Okay.

Paul: But not by choice if that makes sense. So.

Arnell: Sure. Yeah.

Paul: It's one of those things where're like, "Oh, Paul used to bartend. Oh, have, he can make a drink?" I'm like, “Yes I can.” But, it's not that I don't enjoy it but I think it's one of those imposter syndrome things. 'Cause you've seen on social media or whatever, amazing bartenders, they're stacking 30 glasses and pouring liquid and lighting them on fire and doing a backflip.

Paul: And it's like, yeah, I'm not on that level. I can make you a tasty drink but I'm not doing cool flare stuff like that. And it's, so I have, but it's not usually something I try to do. It's more one of those things where like, I just happen to know a lot of common drinks are these separate parts so I could just put it together real quick and try to make something pretty tasty.

Arnell: Yeah. It's nice to have the flare but if the drink doesn't taste good...

Paul: It doesn't matter.

Arnell: Doesn't matter. It's like, I got the show, but dinner's not that great.

Paul: Exactly.

Arnell: Yeah.

Paul: Exactly. Yeah.

Arnell: Is there a drink that you like to make? 

Paul: So yes and no. Anything that's more elaborate to make is actually kind of fun because it's, it ends up being a bit of an effort and a lot of the times the presentation on them is a bit more unique. But I have kind of a love/hate with Bloody Marys. So if you know anything about Bloody Marys, it's generally tomato juice, some sort of seasoning, usually Tabasco or pepper or something like that, and vodka. But a lot of places ended up putting basically a meal on it. Like they put food, 'cause normally you garnish with, like, celery and maybe an olive. But, a lot of the times they're like, "Oh, well let's add extra stuff. Let's put like pepperoni and onions," and then you see, like, the kind of jokey ones where people add, like, sandwiches and...

Arnell: Oh my goodness.

Paul: And stuff on, on top. So, those are fun to make. If you have done the prep work and you have like all those materials and you've done it, it's not that great when you're like, you got like a queue of like 15 drinks you gotta make and you gotta make this Bloody Mary and you don't have this stuff, the prep. It's like, “Oh gosh, can I just cheat on this one? Can I just pour you the liquid and, like, not give you the meal on this?” So it's on one hand, I like it. On the other hand, it's, like, kind of frustrating to make, but yeah, anything that's got, that's either involved or that just has a very impressive sort of look to it. So, things with very vibrant colors.

Arnell: Oh, okay, cool, cool.

Paul: Maybe use, I'd say like a lot of martinis. Martini itself is kind of simple to make, but a lot of the times you get those kind of more flavorful ones or they usually have more elaborate names at restaurants or whatever.

Arnell: Sure, sure.

Paul: A lot of times they have kinda like fun garnishes or something like that. So, but yeah, kinda depends I guess, more work I put into it, the more I might like it potentially if I have the resources. That's a weird response to your question but I'm gonna go with that.

Arnell: No, but it makes sense. It makes sense. It's, but it's an art. You're not just making a drink. The more... Like in woodworking, I like to woodwork. I could make a simple box. It would be easy, it would be done. But, I like to put more detail into it and so the more work I put into it the more you have more ownership over it and there's more satisfaction when you're done with it. Because once you're finished with it you're like, “Oh, I built this thing.” So no, it's definitely, it's, having that ownership and have, putting more into it, the more complex is, it depends on the situation. If you have to get it done, you have to get it done. You don't wanna make it too complex to the point that you're just like stressing out. But I think there... When it's an art, there is a, that sense of like...

Paul: It's kinda like pride.

Arnell: Yeah. Sense of pride.

Paul: You know what I mean? You look at it and be like, “Ah, there it is.” And... Yeah. And especially if there's some functionality behind it or if you're just showing it off and someone notices it, it's like, yeah. Yeah. Agreed.

Arnell: Is there anything else that you'd like to talk about or mention? 

Paul: No, I just wanna say thanks for inviting me. It's, to be honest, it's always awkward to talk about myself. I feel like, 'cause it's like I think the only person who cares about me is me.

Paul: 'Cause it seems kind of weird, but it's, but it's been fun talking about the company. It's fun talking about how we got here and how I got here. 'Cause it's, it has been kind of a bit of a journey, so thanks for having me.

Arnell: Yeah, no, thank you for joining us and thank you for joining us in person and thank you for sharing your journey here. It's a very, very interesting on how you started and where you are now. And you've done quite a lot here, tremendous work and we all thank you for putting it all together and giving us the value that a lot of our customers have enjoyed over the years. So Paul, thank you for joining us today at Inductive Conversations and in this episode of How Did You Get Here, and yeah, I'll talk to you soon. Thank you.

Paul: Sure. Thanks again for the kind words again the checks in the mail right?

Arnell: We'll talk later.

Posted on May 8, 2023