Behind the screens of navigation: Miguel García turns engineering ideas into reality
Mehdi Comeau·Mar 14, 2024

Behind the screens of navigation: Miguel García turns engineering ideas into reality

Mehdi Comeau blogjpeg
Mehdi Comeau
Mar 14, 2024 · 4 min read
Miguel García turns engineering ideas into reality | TomTom Newsroom

Many of us see technology as the finished products we use every day. Yet through another lens, we see the complex lines of code that are weaving together the future of innovation. Miguel García has always lived at the center of this inner, generative world of new technology – keeping his focus on real-world benefits. He spent over a decade improving tech at Google and Amazon, and is now leading the future of navigation as VP Engineering at TomTom. We sat down with Miguel to hear his story.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Miguel admits, “I had very bad handwriting as a child.” Growing up in the 80s, he was fortunate to be one of the first kids in the neighborhood to have a computer at home. So instead of writing, he could type. By age eight, “I was doing my homework assignments on the computer,” Miguel says.  

His rudimentary PC had no mouse at the time, Miguel tells us, “so I had to learn all sorts of keyboard commands in WordPerfect 5.0. From there, learning BASIC and creating small programs was just a small step.” Having a knack for seeing the real-life benefits of specific functionalities, Miguel quickly took big steps from there. 

From typing to coding at Google and Amazon

Merging academics with practical experience has long been a challenge for universities. Miguel decided to take the matter into his own hands. He started working part-time while studying computer science at the Polytechnic School in Madrid, noting, “It was one of the few schools that allowed students to go to class part-time, and I took full advantage of that privilege.”

He completed his degree in six years, finishing with more work experience than your average graduate. “This opened the doors for an internship at Google Zurich,” Miguel says. That internship turned into 11 years at Google, working on all sorts of projects. “I am most proud of my senior management roles in Google Calendar and Google Chrome,” he tells us.

Moving back to Madrid with an expanded set of managerial skills, Miguel took on a leadership role at Amazon. He made his mark on projects such as Business Prime and Kindle before talking to TomTom.

Upping the challenge at TomTom

“When TomTom knocked on my door, I didn’t hesitate. The opportunity to influence how the next generation of maps is created and used is a fantastic challenge that I wouldn’t let pass,” Miguel says. He’d found the perfect place to combine his core skills and passion: engineering, leading teams and making a real-world impact on people’s lives.

Miguel tells us, “I have always been fascinated by the process of converting an idea into an actual feature that millions of people can enjoy.” That’s exactly what he’s doing now, continually going through the rewarding process of engineering: “Making something ‘happen’ at scale takes time, iterations and learnings. When the day arrives to click launch and make it available to real customers, it’s unforgettable,” Miguel shares.

Setting new routes for the future of navigation

“I lead the Location Platform organization at TomTom,” Miguel tells us. “We are in charge of generating the best possible route from point A to point B, providing clear instructions on how to get there, visualizing the map, the route, everything. Our current focus is on the Navigation SDK product for developers.” It’s a fast-paced journey across multiple engineering disciplines.

My role combines core algorithmic work inside a real-life, innovative product. In the same day, I get to discuss things like performance tradeoffs in mobile development, the best way to represent a roundabout in our graphics engine, or if Dijkstra's algorithm can be applied to electric vehicle routing across charging stations. Every one of these discussions happens with top experts in their specific field. It's really a privilege.

Miguel García

VP Engineering, TomTom

Where innovation and vision meet reality

TomTom is building maps the world has never seen before. To do so, the company is setting a new standard in mapmaking together with leading tech companies, opening up an exciting new future of maps that is based on a foundation of global cooperation. The Navigation SDK Miguel is focused on makes this breakthrough mapping tech accessible, so more people can use it to better solve problems and innovate.

Miguel is excited to carry the company’s vision forward in his work. “We are in a position to go beyond hyper-accurate maps of the world, delivering a map that stays fresh, updating instantly as it mirrors real-world changes. The scale required to make this happen would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Now it's within our reach.”

AI helps. “It radically affects the speed at which we can deliver reliable features to customers,” he says. “And in general, it reduces the manual burden so that engineers can focus on core innovation.” That sounds like a win-win – the smarter we use machine intelligence, the brighter human ingenuity shines.

Make your mark on the future of maps

Miguel is always happy to meet new people who share his passion for engineering and impact. If you like what he’s doing, consider this as well:

“TomTom offers an exceptional blend of innovation and actual product development. We also hire the best engineering and product talent worldwide,” Miguel says.

So, are you ready to turn your ideas into reality with a talented team by your side?

Search open roles at TomTom

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