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‘When I started in mobile, manufacturers were constantly trying to reinvent the phone’

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Samsung Ireland’s Quentin Doran O’Reilly discusses the changing world of electronics, a focus on foldable phones, 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 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.

‘We live in an incredibly exciting time where technology is playing an ever-increasing role in both our work and personal lives’
– 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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Best podcasts of the week: what does the bloodsucking saga Twilight tell us about society? | Podcasts

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Picks of the week

The Big Hit Show
“Twilight is stupid; if you like it, you’re also stupid.” Why is there so much vitriol towards female Twihards? (Spoiler: misogyny.) In the first run of a series unpicking pop culture’s biggest moments – from the Obamas’ media company – Alex Pappademas starts by dissecting the wildly popular tale of teenage vampire love – and what the reactions to it say about us. Even if you’re not a fan, he raises some great questions. Hollie Richardson

Fake Psychic
Journalist Vicky Baker captivated listeners with Fake Heiress and now she investigates the fascinating story of Lamar Keene, the go-to spiritualist of 1960s America. When he hung up his questionable crystal ball he decided to reveal the tricks of supposed psychics, and Baker asks if that too was a con while pondering the authenticity of the psychics who followed. Hannah Verdier

Deep Cover: Mob Land
Animal lover, lawyer and switcher of identities Bob Cooley is the subject of Jake Halpern’s new season of the reliably mysterious podcast. Cooley was a top Chicago mob lawyer in the 70s and 80s, but what was the price when he offered to switch to the FBI’s side? This dive into corruption quizzes the key figures around him. HV

Chutzpod
This lively, engaging podcast attempts to “apply a Jewish lens to life’s toughest questions”. Hosts Rabbi Shira Stutman and one-time West Wing actor Joshua Malina cover topics ranging from reality TV shows to the Jewish “New Year of the Trees”, via the recent hostage stand-off at a synagogue in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville. Alexi Duggins

Backstage Pass with Eric Vetro
Eric Vestro is a vocal coach who’s worked with the likes of John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande. Here, he entertainingly lifts the curtain on their craft, talking to them about their journey in a manner that feels genuinely intimate given their pre-existing relationships. Expect some enjoyably daft voice exercises too. AD

Royally Flush investigates the monarchy’s relationship with the British slave trade.
Royally Flush investigates the monarchy’s relationship with the British slave trade. Photograph: Chris Radburn/Reuters

Chosen by Danielle Stephens

It’s fair to say that in the last couple of years the British monarchy has been put under a microscope for the way they handle their own family members, whether that be an heir to the throne and his American wife, or a prince embroiled in a civil sex abuse case. In a two parter titled Royally Flush, however, the Broccoli Productions’ Human Resources podcast goes back in time to investigate the royal family’s role in the slave trade in Britain, questioning how influential they were in trying to prevent abolition.

This is clearly a pandemic production as audio quality can sometimes be shaky, but the content is an important listen. As the country gears up to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee, writer and host, Moya Lothian-McLean takes us on an unexplored trip down memory lane, presenting fascinating insights into why – despite ample evidence that the monarchy was historically instrumental in propping up the slave trade in Britain – we haven’t heard so much as a sorry coming from Buckingham Palace, according to the program maker.

Talking points

  • Never underestimate the skill that goes into making a good podcast. Over a year since Meghan and Harry’s audio production company Archewell signed a podcast deal with Spotify, they’ve only managed to release a single podcast. Hence, presumably the job ads Spotify posted this week, looking for full-time staff to help Archewell.

  • Why not try: Smartless | Screenshot

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California’s net neutrality law dodges Big Telecom bullet • The Register

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The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court’s refusal to block California’s net neutrality law (SB 822), affirming that state laws can regulate internet connectivity where federal law has gone silent.

The decision is a blow to the large internet service providers that challenged California’s regulations, which prohibit network practices that discriminate against lawful applications and online activities. SB 822, for example, forbids “zero-rating” programs that exempt favored services from customer data allotments, paid prioritization, and blocking or degrading service.

In 2017, under the leadership of then-chairman Ajit Pai, the US Federal Communications Commission tossed out America’s net neutrality rules, to the delight of the internet service providers that had to comply. Then in 2018, the FCC issued an order that redefined broadband internet services, treating them as “information services” under Title I of the Communications Act instead of more regulated “telecommunications services” under Title II of the Communications Act.

California lawmaker Scott Wiener (D) crafted SB 822 to implement the nixed 2015 Open Internet Order on a state level, in an effort to fill the vacuum left by the FCC’s abdication. SB 822, the “California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018,” was signed into law in September 2018 and promptly challenged.

In October 2018, a group of cable and telecom trade associations sued California to prevent SB 822 from being enforced. In February, 2021, Judge John Mendez of the United States District Court for Eastern California declined to grant the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction to block the law. 

So the trade groups took their case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now rejected their arguments. While federal laws can preempt state laws, the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband services has moved those services outside its authority and opened a gap that state regulators are now free to fill.

“We conclude the district court correctly denied the preliminary injunction,” the appellate ruling [PDF] says. “This is because only the invocation of federal regulatory authority can preempt state regulatory authority.

The FCC no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services

“As the D.C. Circuit held in Mozilla, by classifying broadband internet services as information services, the FCC no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services. The agency, therefore, cannot preempt state action, like SB 822, that protects net neutrality.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supported California in an amicus brief, celebrated the decision in a statement emailed to The Register.

“EFF is pleased that the Ninth Circuit has refused to bar enforcement of California’s pioneering net neutrality rules, recognizing a very simple principle: the federal government can’t simultaneously refuse to protect net neutrality and prevent anyone else from filling the gap,” a spokesperson said.

“Californians can breathe a sigh of relief that their state will be able to do its part to ensure fair access to the internet for all, at a time when we most need it.”

There’s still the possibility that the plaintiffs – ACA Connects, CTIA, NCTA and USTelecom – could appeal to the US Supreme Court.

In an emailed statement, the organizations told us, “We’re disappointed and will review our options. Once again, a piecemeal approach to this issue is untenable and Congress should codify national rules for an open Internet once and for all.” ®

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RCSI scientists find potential treatment for secondary breast cancer

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An existing drug called PARP inhibitor can be used to exploit a vulnerability in the way breast cancer cells repair their DNA, preventing spread to the brain.

For a long time, there have been limited treatment options for patients with breast cancer that has spread to the brain, sometimes leaving them with just months to live. But scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) have found a potential treatment using existing drugs.

By tracking the development of tumours from diagnosis to their spread to the brain, a team of researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre found a previously unknown vulnerability in the way the tumours repair their DNA.

An existing kind of drug known as a PARP inhibitor, often used to treat heritable cancers, can prevent cancer cells from repairing their DNA because of this vulnerability, culminating in the cells dying and the patient being rid of the cancer.

Prof Leonie Young, principal investigator of the RCSI study, said that breast cancer research focused on expanding treatment options for patients whose disease has spread to the brain is urgently needed to save the lives of those living with the disease.

“Our study represents an important development in getting one step closer to a potential treatment for patients with this devastating complication of breast cancer,” she said of the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Deaths caused by breast cancer are often a result of treatment relapses which lead to tumours spreading to other parts of the body, a condition known as secondary or metastatic breast cancer. This kind of cancer is particularly aggressive and lethal when it spreads to the brain.

The study was funded by Breast Cancer Ireland with support from Breast Cancer Now and Science Foundation Ireland.

It was carried out as an international collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Pittsburgh in the US. Apart from Prof Young, the other RCSI researchers were Dr Nicola Cosgrove, Dr Damir Varešlija and Prof Arnold Hill.

“By uncovering these new vulnerabilities in DNA pathways in brain metastasis, our research opens up the possibility of novel treatment strategies for patients who previously had limited targeted therapy options”, said Dr Varešlija.

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