Andy Chilton on a career in tech

After 25+ years in the tech industry, Software Engineer Andy Chilton is using his diverse skills at Certified Energy for renewable and zero carbon energy

8 Mar 2023

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Andy Chilton on a career in tech

Originally from the United Kingdom, Andy Chilton was 14 years old when he discovered the exciting world of tech. He opted into a computing class, even though he didn’t have a computer. Then two friends piqued his interest in programming. One showed him how to use a programming language called Basic. The other coded his own Formula 1 racing game.

“To me, that seemed like the most amazing thing, that you could just create something out of thin air and so it made me start thinking about what programming was,” says Chilton.

He went on to study a Master of Engineering at The University of Manchester and says that’s where he found “his people”. It confirmed that a career in computing was a great fit for his mind and personality.

He’s built an impressive resume working both in-house and remotely for tech companies in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, since. Fresh out of university he got a job at Logica in the UK where he wrote the Entry, Descent and Landing System for Beagle 2, which was sent to Mars in 2003. Some of Chilton’s code is still floating around up there on Mars, “so that’s a bit crazy.”

Some of Chilton’s code is still floating around up there on Mars...

Chilton also helped re-write the front end of the Stuff website, worked for Mozilla Firefox and has been involved in several tech start-ups. He sold one for a healthy sum. Others failed.

“You just never know in the startup world, where the company is going to go. It's so difficult. But they were good learning experiences for me.” Today, Chilton is enjoying living, working and raising a family in Palmerston North.

As Head of Software at Certified Energy, he spends his days "working in the weeds of code" – basically, he tells the computer what to do, and right now, he’s building software that encourages sustainable energy production and consumption.

Certified Energy has developed the New Zealand Energy Certificate System (NZECS) which enables progressive NZ organisations such as banks, airports and manufacturers to buy certificates from renewable electricity generators.

The certificates tell the organisations how the power they’re using was generated - hydro, wind or biogas. They also disclose where the plant is and how many carbon emissions are generated to produce the power.

Organisations can then track and reduce their emissions and ultimately work towards zero-carbon electricity use, creating a more sustainable future. Chilton started at Certified Energy in October 2022 and says the role is a great fit. He sees huge potential for the company.

“It seems like we're at an inflexion point in terms of having to do what we can for the planet, and this definitely fits the bill here.”

Seeing a project grow over time is what excites Chilton most about his work. He’s looking forward to welcoming more developers onboard and helping move both Certified Energy and New Zealand towards a more sustainable future.

While Chilton thrives in the fast-moving world of tech, he’s learnt not to be lured in by shiny objects. These days, he’ll only adopt a new piece of technology if it fits the needs of his team and the company.

“You can get ahead of yourself sometimes with trying to learn the hottest newest thing. But I've been around now. I see the cycles come and go. You get new technology, there's the hype, and people go flat on it because they realise it doesn't solve all their problems.”

While he refers to himself as a generalist, he also proudly owns the label “geek”.

“I remember my brother said to me years ago, ‘The geeks will inherit the earth because everything's going towards technology.’ It's terrible in one way, but it's good in another. It depends on your viewpoint in life, doesn't it?”

-- by Renee Murphy