International Development of Technology (IDT) was founded by Dr Sunjoo Advani in 2005 when he saw a gap in the engineering and aerospace industry. The company develops flight and vehicle simulators, as well as advocating for ways to improve aviation safety worldwide. The CEO Magazine spoke to Sunjoo about why he decided to found IDT, the highlights for the company over the last decade, and what his vision is for the future.
The CEO Magazine: What is your professional background prior to becoming president of IDT?
Sunjoo: I started off with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, both in Canada. In 1990, I moved to the Netherlands to do my PhD in aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology. I finally completed my PhD in 1998, because I was simultaneously creating a new flight-simulation research institute at that university. I was then nominated director of the research institute that I helped create myself. When I discover something with high potential, I give it everything I have and strive to achieve the maximum for my team. For me, one plus one equals three.
What have been the key learnings from your past experiences that you have been able to bring and apply to your role?
I started off as a scientist with a tenacious thirst for knowledge. However, I learned you also can’t just keep that expertise to yourself. The world needs people who can translate knowledge into the language of the user, and show them real solutions.
We can achieve much more by understanding the many aspects of complex problems by also venturing outside our own areas of specialisation.
We also need to teach young engineers how to take those steps. There is a growing need to recruit young minds into engineering, and it starts from developing that interest at an early age and exposing youngsters to the fascination of science and technology. That is why I also enjoy giving lectures and hands-on workshops in schools.
Since my childhood, I have always been passionate about aviation. I wanted to become a professional pilot. I was also a fanatic model airplane builder and pilot as a youngster. To help pay my way through university, I started a small business when I was 25, building unmanned aircraft for unique applications. Ironically, my hobby made me realise that engineering would be a much better choice for me than becoming a pilot, because you can actually solve important fundamental problems and can directly influence change. Leveraging change is really what it is all about for me—to make flying safer. And when you have that drive, you start to also think beyond existing conventional limits. Yes, it is possible to make a career out of your passion!