Ed Hicks is in United Technologies’ newest and one of its most dynamic organizations – UT Digital. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., he works at the Digital Accelerator, a cooperative of designers, developers, data scientists, technologies and product managers who have been tapped to position employees, customers and UTC’s businesses for long-term success.
Ed is responsible for executing and delivering software that will create value for the company’s internal and external stakeholders. “It’s an aggressive undertaking,” says Ed. “At the end of 2017, we had 30 engineers and scientists working at the Accelerator. That’s expected to double in 2018, with more hiring to come in 2019.”
Like many digital professionals, Ed’s education and career path did not take a linear course. He enrolled at Columbia University with the idea of becoming an architect. He was inspired by his grandfather, an architect in Japan. Plus he was a great fan of SimCity growing up, the video game where the player develops a city from a patch of undeveloped land. “I always thought I wanted to be a traditional architect – to be able to put something on paper that would eventually be a building.”
It was the rise of the dot com era that caused him to shift direction. “The internet was my epiphany. At that time there was no formal education for digital. So I left Columbia and began working for start-ups.” This, he says, is when he was exposed to visionaries who saw the potential of the web and the benefits it could bring to business.
He was drawn to United Technologies because of the global impact it has on society. “This is a compelling company taking on the challenges of urbanization, population growth, even the world’s food supply. As a society, we need to develop greater digital capabilities so that we can tackle these issues.”
As he looks back, he sees similarities between architecture and digital science. “Both are creating and designing an output,” he says. “And both have the elements of complexity, creativity and responding to events as they unfold.”