The Dream Job and Beyond: Daren Reid Reflects on a Career in Software Development

Optical Solutions Editorial Team

Apr 01, 2024 / 4 min read

Meet Daren Reid, Senior Director of R&D Engineering. Daren Reid has had a remarkable career in software development and management at the Optical Solutions Group (OSG), serving since 1987. He has significantly contributed to various projects, including CODE V, LightTools, and LucidShape, and has been instrumental in fostering Agile and Responsibility models. Daren's leadership has not only grown the software R&D group but also enabled successful collaborations with other groups within Synopsys, making him a well-respected figure in the company and field.

Q: What was it like during the early days of developing CODE V and LightTools?

When I joined Optical Research Associates (ORA) in 1987, I was shown to my desk and given my username and password to log into a Dec 11-750 with a VT-100 terminal. I was working on CODE V for most of my programming career and needed to transition from Pascal and BASIC to Fortran. There weren’t a lot of software processes in those days so even my rudimentary knowledge in structured programming was considered novel at the time. CODE V was already a big success in the optics industry and we were coming out with some of the big time features during that era. For me personally, I could not believe I got a job writing software for a physics simulator. This was my dream job.

Daren Reid | Synopsys

Q: What accomplishments are you the proudest of in your career?

Well, a couple of things come to mind. The CODE V graphical user interface design project pushed me beyond my boundaries at the time. Interviewing subcontractors, establishing two teams that needed to work together, and negotiating business deals were certainly memorable experiences. More recently, I have to say I got very emotional to see two people working in my group win the Synopsys Excellence award. It has been so joyful to work with this team. They inspired me every day and continue to do so as I’m heading into my next chapter.

Q: What is your funniest memory while working at ORA/Synopsys?

I don’t know if these are the funniest memories, but certainly some of the most special memories were working with others to help create some of the employee retirement videos. Cramming those videos with tons of inside jokes was among the most fun things I was able to be a part of. These works inspired sparks of creativity that went outside the normal engineering environment. And they were all collaborative adventures!

Q: Which colleague has been most influential to you?

That question is not a fair one because any name I would give you would instantly exclude all the others who have had such a lasting and impactful effect on my life. It is easy to recognize Tom Harris (founder of ORA) because of his unique ability to combine technical skills, business acumen, along with generosity, warmth and kindness. He was able to attract people who wanted to be a part of that kind of environment and so, seeing everyone as an extension of what he represented just echoing the same characteristics.  

The other obvious answer, of course, is my wife, Kiddie, because she and I got married to each other while both working at ORA. As a part of that relationship, we intentionally kept our work lives separate from each other, though saying we were “colleagues” would be a bit of stretch.  

There are many others who have taught me so much – some have passed on, some are at different companies now, others are still working strong in Synopsys and others are retired. I’m just so immensely grateful to have been able to work with these amazing and talented individuals. I feel incredibly blessed by all of them.

Daren and Kiddie Reid | Synopsys

Q: What advice would you have for those working in this field in a similar position?

I would say: understand your purpose. Why do you want to go to work (other than the money)? Put your purpose out in front of you every day rather than just believing the narrative that your internal ego voice and the world seems to tell you. You may need to spend time on getting clear on what that purpose is which is time well spent.  

Then I would say, practice personal responsibility for your reactions by creating a space in your mind for when upsetting situations come into your awareness. To the best of your ability, use that space to release the feelings instead of indulging and propagating them. As you do that, you will see that no one can make you upset. Only you can make yourself upset. There is tremendous power and freedom in that understanding, but it needs to be practiced to be appreciated fully. An intellectual understanding won’t get you there.  

Finally, be as wide open and as accepting as you can be – which includes yourself as well as others. Another way to say all of that is to just be kind. Both to others and yourself.

Q: What are your plans after retirement?

The quick answer to that is the plan is to release all plans. To go a little deeper, I have been planning throughout my work and adult life. That was my job for the last 30 years and now it is time to undo all of that and learn to live a more inspired, spontaneous, and devoted life in the present moment. I am managing thoughts; releasing those that don’t serve and focusing on thoughts that do serve. I’ve been practicing this in baby steps for the last 17 years and more intensely the last three. I still “fail” as much as I succeed, but as the mind gets more and more cleared and cleaned from this practice, I have found periods where intense joy just wells up inside and then starts gushing out for no reason. These periods have been great signposts to just keep going with the mind training since there is still a lot of negative stuff that continues to surface and needs to be healed.

This cake design included the four software products at Optical Solutions that Daren had contributed by leading the software group. | Synopsys

This cake design included the four software products at Optical Solutions that Daren had contributed by leading the software group.

Congratulations to Daren for his long and successful career, and all of us at Synopsys Optical Solutions wish him the best in his retirement.

Continue Reading