EY’s Pat Beattie reveals how to get your dream career in tech

  • As tech consulting partner at EY, Pat Beattie knows the ins and outs of the tech world. He shared with us his advice on how to enter the tech industry from his own career journey.

    Q. As Tech Consulting Partner for EY NI, can you tell us about what this role involves?

    A. My role essentially involves two things. One is building the practice, recruiting and developing the teams, coaching and talent management to create a culture of high performance. It also includes raising EY’s profile and engagement with the local business community, schools, universities, and social enterprises.

    The second part is business development, engaging with public and private sector clients to understand and solve their most complex and important problems and in doing so, creating demand for EY’s services.

    Q. What attracted you to work at EY?

    A. After I graduated, I worked for several small Northern Ireland tech companies. I then joined as a graduate with one of the big four in Northern Ireland, where I worked for 20+ years. While I loved my time there, it was time for a new challenge. The reason I came to EY was twofold. Firstly, EY have a real focus on investing and working with clients in the Northern Ireland market to help them transform and grow. That local focus and presence, creating a better working world, is really important to me.

    The second key attraction was the opportunity to build and scale a new team, essentially creating a start-up within the safety of being in a global firm. EY, by its nature, is very entrepreneurial, creating and empowering its people to be successful. That really appealed to me and is something I strive to embed in our wider team culture.

    Q. For anyone considering a career in tech, what sort of opportunities are available are EY?

    A. We offer a broad array of technology career opportunities, ranging from strategy to architecture and design of solutions through to helping buy, build and implement them for our clients. We develop new technology platforms for clients in software, data and cloud engineering but we also help clients choose and implement commercially available software. As an example, we have one of the largest Microsoft and SAP practices on the island of Ireland. We also do a lot of work in robotic automation, data, cyber and digital assurance and we have significant demand for business analysis, project management, creative and design activities as well.

    Q. How important is a STEM background to have a successful career in IT?

    A. STEM is important for some of the more technical roles we have at EY and as technology continues to shape the future, we are dedicated to ensuring children and students have equal opportunity to pursue high growth STEM careers. For example, EY created a STEM app which is freely downloadable to help students develop their knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

    In saying that, this is only one area of tech careers at EY, we support and actively recruit people from non-STEM backgrounds because soft skills such as communication, problem-solving and creativity are highly valuable to us.

    Q. What sort of opportunities are available for people to develop their careers at EY?

    A. In terms of ambition and growth, EY now over 1,000 people working in technology on the island of Ireland. Our ambition is to double that within the next two years. Therefore, people joining EY will be joining a fast growth tech business with all the personal development and career progression opportunities that provides. To support this, we significantly invest in continuous learning and staff development with the ability to earn badges in different curriculum areas potentially leading to a funded tech-focused MBA.

    Q. What steps should young people take if they're interested in working in the tech sector?

    A. If I reflect on my own journey there were a number of things I was interested in. It wasn’t just technology, it was about looking at the bigger picture - I considered the benefits that technology actually delivered. I read as many business articles as I did technology ones to give me that broader understanding. This meant that when it came to making education and career choices, I was making them with a clearer understanding of what I was really interested in. Sites like Sync NI and others are great ways to learn about the tech and business ecosystem. I recommend attending company open nights to understand what careers are out there and the opportunities on offer. I’m a great believer that if you're interested in it, and you're passionate about it, you’re much more likely to be successful because you’re doing what you enjoy.

    Q. Who would you consider to be the most influential mentor in your career to date?

    A. I've been incredibly lucky in my time to work with several people who have helped me at different stages. When I first entered the world of professional services, I wasn't that ‘technical’ to begin with and I was honest about that. One individual took the time to support me, helping me learn the basics. He always said ‘there's no such thing as a stupid question’…and believe me, I asked plenty of them! That was hugely impactful for me at a young age, and I've tried to do the same as I’ve progressed in my own career. Taking the time to coach while doing something may take longer but will create so much more capacity, capability and loyalty in staff in doing so, rather than taking the often easier and quicker route.

    As I progressed in my career, I was fortunate to work closely with a partner in the firm, who mentored me and helped to guide and shape my career. We talked proactively about the options and the opportunities that were there for me as well as providing the coaching and challenge I needed at certain points. I think that's a really important part of leadership, especially in a people-centric business, such as professional services where our people are our greatest asset. I've always been passionate about bringing a coaching and career development culture to the teams I build and work with. We learn from our clients and each other - everyday should be a learning day.

    Q. What advice would you give to graduates wanting to work in EY?

    A. Get in touch, it's that simple! The critical thing for us is we want people who are passionate and interested in technology and the impact it can have. The advice from me is to expand your knowledge and think about other areas that sit around your core expertise and how to gain those complementary skills.

    Some tech jobs continue to evolve as new technologies emerge and replace old ones. However, the skills they cannot replace are creative thinking, problem-solving and translating complex business problems and technical solutions. Technology on its own isn't enough to deliver business outcomes. It's what people do with that technology, how they adopt and make use of it for better business or societal outcomes - that is when it becomes truly transformative.

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