Version 1 strives to be an innovative leader of tech

  • Claire Mullen, Account Manager and Kathryn O'Connor, Principle Delivery Manager at Version 1, chatted with Sync NI about how innovation influences their jobs, the company and the future of the tech sector.

    Q. Version 1 is widely recognized for innovation and collaboration. How much do these values define your current roles?


    Over the last five years, Version 1 has made a significant investment in our innovation proposition and a large part of my role is ensuring that my team are fully aware of the latest innovations in the IT industry. We place a lot of emphasis on upskilling our staff whether that’s training, attending conferences or upskilling certifications to share that knowledge and bring the latest innovations to our customers.

    This allows Claire and I to connect our customers to specialist teams within Version 1 and of course all our customers will also have access to the wider 3000 people within the business to make sure their ideas come to fruition.

    Since COVID, remote working has become the norm. Today many of my teams are working in different countries and with customers in different time zones, so finding ways to collaborate is crucial and we work hard to adapt to each of our customers’ needs. Even taking the geographical spread of teams into account, every customer and every team has their own way that works for them so from a technology and a people perspective, collaboration is key. While I don’t think we can totally replace face-to-face, particularly for certain project events, I also think it’s important for people to come together in person to celebrate successes.


    From an innovation perspective, we've developed quite a strong story with our customers across various different sectors including insurance and utilities and naturally we have acquired specific domain knowledge in terms of successfully delivering those projects. We are able to use that knowledge to drive many of our innovation programs including our innovation labs and advisory services functions.

    Version 1 has an innovation-led collaborative environment and from my perspective, working in a customer-facing role, collaboration is an extremely important and essential part of how we work with our customers. We always manage to find different ways of working together in partnership to make it easier to achieve successful outcomes for them.

    Q. Version 1 has won numerous awards for great places to work. What makes version one a great place to work for you?


    For me personally, it has to be the people, along with the fact that every day is different. Having such a diverse range of customers within the private sector means working with different customers to solve different problems and that guarantees a lot variation each day. I also spend time with a commercial team, such as Claire, to work on new proposals for our customers and generally the pace at which we operate is good. As part of such a growing organisation, this definitely offers everyone more opportunities.


    Yes definitely I would agree with Kathryn. I also really like the fact that we're all in it together, both as individuals and teams and all quite tied to our core values. Subsequently, this translates into the conversations and relationships that we have with our customers and makes every day really different and a joy to come to work.

    Q. Version 1 has an impressive reputation for supporting women in tech. How important are these networks for you, personally?


    We develop partnerships for local schools to support young women coming into IT and for me, that's the most important piece. It’s important to start right at the beginning and educate young girls to see that there are a wide range of different roles within the sector. Young girls need to know IT is definitely an option for them as a future career.


    I agree, it’s very important we reach these young people at an early age, not only from a learning and support perspective but also from the development opportunities that are afforded to them by being part of these networks. There are so many networks available today including Women in Tech and numerous meetups that can provide the ideal opportunity to develop different skills such as leadership and communication.  It’s vitally important for organisations and the more senior people within the tech industry to enable that to happen.

    Q. Effective teamwork is crucial to success. What qualities do you feel are essential for building and managing successful teams?


    This is a key part of Version 1’s core values and that's how we operate- as a team.

    We understand everyone brings something different and it's critical that our people feel valued and involved so while clear leadership is important people really need to be empowered to make decisions themselves. Good communication upwards and downwards is also extremely important especially when people are in remote working environments.


    I think it's important to put yourself in other people's shoes and listen to other people's perspectives. We would have quite diverse teams with a variety of different roles and bringing it all together is essential for us to deliver successfully for our customers. Having a supportive environment plays an important part, it's impossible to get through life without making mistakes, but making sure that you can see them quickly and learn from them is really important. We have quite a niche offering, with global locations and teams operating in different geographies and time zones and understand what it requires to build those high-performing teams. As a result, we have invested extensively in delivering coaching, training and mentoring to our teams to ensure that this culture is embedded across the organization.

    Q. Having both enjoyed a successful career in tech, what advice would you give to anyone considering coming into the sector?


    My advice would be not to get too comfortable in your comfort zone. I know it sounds a bit of a cliché but you do only grow when you push yourself outside of that. Sometimes when things go bad at work it's often easy to get dragged down within that and hard to see the positive side but actually that's really when you learn the most and next time around you'll be more prepared.

    I also think it's really important to be resilient. Right away, I would say don't count yourself out of working in this industry if you didn't come from an IT background especially as there are so many different opportunities requiring different skill sets within Version 1. At the end of the day, we're all delivering IT services for people and as people we all interact with the services and everyone can bring a particular viewpoint and something valuable to offer.


    It's really important to put yourself out there and put your hand up when opportunities come your way and step out of your comfort zone. I'd also say that you should probably continue to invest in your own learning and find an organization to work for that supports your ongoing development. Finally, I would say try not to have a career plan that's too rigid because opportunities and changes come out of the blue. Always be prepared for your ways of working to change and be conscious of the fact that your path may change too.

    This article appears in the summer edition of Sync NI magazine. To receive a free copy click here

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