Meet Michael

Customer-centricity is the cornerstone of success in Defence Services

Having recently celebrated his 20-year anniversary with Systematic, Michael Thornvig Mikkelsen has seen the company grow from a small, close-knit team to the global company it is today. From his early days as a student programmer to his current role, Michael’s technical expertise and commitment to close collaboration with customers has been instrumental in creating value and satisfaction for both Systematic, customers and himself.


From Developer to Senior Solutions Architect

Having spent his entire professional career at Systematic, some might wonder what the secret is to keeping engaged through so many years, but Michael’s career has been anything but dull. “No two days have been the same,” he says, attributing his continued engagement to professional challenges, growth opportunities, and collaboration with colleagues and customers.

The day after passing his MSc in Computer Science exam, Michael transitioned from student programmer to full-time developer working on defence products. However, his curiosity and desire to understand how the products were actually used in real-world scenarios led him to transition to Defence Services.

As a Senior Solution Architect in Services, Michael now bridges the gap between customer requirements, code quality, and cost-effectiveness. He considers himself the customer’s advocate within the company, ensuring that the final solution meets customer expectations while remaining economically viable.

"... when it makes sense, we challenge our customers to ensure the best possible solution. This way of working with the customers can, of course, only work when we trust each other, and so the trust we build with our customers is priceless."

Michael Thornvig Mikkelsen, Sr. Solutions Architect, Systematic

Passion for Defence and Close Customer Collaboration

Michael’s deliberate choice to work exclusively in defence reflects his passion for this domain. Although he has no military background, he has gained extensive field experience over the years, which has given him deep insights into soldiers’ work and understanding of their needs.

"Working closely with our defence customers helps us truly understand what they need," Michael says. "It's not just about giving them the product they ask for; it's about making sure that we deliver the right solutions to ultimately keep them safe. This means that, sometimes, our customers will not get the solution they initially asked for - but rather a solution that solves their underlying problem. Obviously, this is a delicate balance, but when it makes sense, we challenge our customers to ensure the best possible solution. This way of working with the customers can, of course, only work when we trust each other, and so the trust we build with our customers is priceless."


Dynamic Challenges and International Assignments

Michael thrives on the dynamic nature of his work, and unexpected challenges keep him engaged. “When I arrive at the office in the morning, I typically have an idea of how the day will unfold, but it's rare that the plan can be 100% executed because something else always comes up and oftentimes with high urgency,” he says.

In addition to this, Michael’s work is also versatile - not all days are spent in the office, as the Services teams often meet with the customers physically for meetings, product demos, training, and tests – and support during actual military exercises.

Michael has taken part in many military exercises over the years, supporting the Danish, Swedish, British and German Armies on exercises all over the world. During these exercises, Michael’s role is to liaise between the exercise and Systematic, so if any problems arise during the exercise, he can fix it on the spot – or make sure that the issue is escalated back home – for a good and quick fix.

Michael notes that it is during military exercises that he has gained the most accurate field experience and insight into how things work in the customers’ world: “Someone who’s never been in the field with the customer can easily fall into the trap of saying that ‘the soldiers only just need to toggle this button like that’, but when you're out on an exercise and see how soldiers actually operate, you can much better understand that you can't always ‘just do’ something under the conditions they are in.” In this way, Michael gets a lot of good feedback from exercises on what works in practice, and when returning from an exercise, it is his job to make sure that the feedback becomes input for product improvements.

Especially his involvement in international projects like military exercises highlights the complexity of integrating hardware and software across different technologies, and whether he is overseeing tests on a new aircraft or collaborating with global teams in the office or in the field, he thrives on the dynamic nature of his work. "The varied nature of my job and the experiences I’m gaining continue to broaden my perspective and provide engaging challenges," Michael remarks. "It's a uniquely rewarding experience to see our solutions make a tangible difference in such diverse settings around the world."