A day in the Life with Barry Bresnahan, Director of Engineering at Liberty IT

  • What does your typical week look like?

    My weeks can be quite varied, but if I were to describe a typical week, it starts on a Monday morning with a meeting with fellow Directors of Engineering across Liberty IT. This allows us to collaborate on company initiatives and share ideas and thoughts to help achieve our short-term and long-term goals.

    I can break down my typical week into several categories - people, engineering, leadership and delivery.

    In terms of people, I spend some of my time in one-on-one meetings or reviewing data from my own engineering group.

    Liberty IT places a strong emphasis on high-performance engineering, so discussions on this topic are always present in a typical week to ensure a continuous improvement mindset.

    Leadership plays a significant role as I lead my own engineering group of 100 people, participate in company-wide initiatives and collaborate with fellow leaders.

    Lastly, delivery is an ongoing topic of discussion with business partners, addressing current initiatives and future considerations, while ensuring teams are equipped with the necessary skills, for today and tomorrow, to make the highest possible impact.

    What are you currently working on?

    My current focus is on the Investments and Corporate business areas within Liberty Mutual Insurance, our parent company, which is fascinating and rewarding work.

    Liberty Mutual Insurance is a global company, with a number of business areas our teams currently work across. Within my engineering group, we have 17 teams working across departments such as legal, talent, finance, and investments. Our end user could be one many different personas such as a legal attorney or an investment analyst and this gives our work a lot of variety.

    Our Employee Resource Groups are the heartbeat of our organisation and culture and I’m incredibly proud to be an executive sponsor for our sustainability group. Our focus this year is on education and adoption of sustainable software practices which is really exciting and impactful stuff.

    You've been at Liberty IT for 19 years, what has inspired you to stay?

    I began my journey at Liberty IT as a Senior Engineer in 2005, and what has kept me here is the opportunity to experience seven different roles so far. The support and opportunities provided by the company have allowed me to explore various positions and work in many different areas of the business. This constant variety and the chance to tackle new challenges at every step have made my journey with Liberty IT extremely fresh and fulfilling.

    Did you always want to work in the tech industry?

    After graduating from college with a degree in Electronics, I was uncertain about my career path. I had the opportunity to pursue a PhD in Materials Science, which tempted me. However, I realised that regardless of my future endeavours, I would need knowledge in IT, so I enrolled in an MSc programme in Computers and Information Systems. The MSc programme triggered my interest enough that I decided to pursue a job in the software industry. Fortunately, I landed a role, and the rest is history.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    Hands down, it's the people. While I find technology fascinating, working with engaged individuals whom I can learn from and who get things done is the most enjoyable aspect of my work.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    There wasn't a single person who inspired me to work in this field. However, my father was a vehicle mechanic, who showed me how engines work from a young age. I still have his old orange and red book called "Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology," which I remember studying as a kid, trying to make sense of the illustrations. Although I didn't fully comprehend it at the time, it sparked my curiosity about how things are assembled to solve problems or create something new.

    In the IT world, the same principle applies - we connect and build software to solve problems, bringing together IT and Business to collaborate on solutions and innovative ideas. Therefore, those early years of contemplating how things come together to build something were likely the beginning of my inspiration.

    What's the most impactful innovation or emerging tech area you’ve worked on in the last year?

    Currently, one of the emerging tech areas my teams are exploring is Natural Language Processing (NLP) and its application in real business solutions. In terms of impact, we have developed a financial solution that is continuously shifting away from outdated paper-heavy technology towards a truly digital solution. The team is releasing regular capabilities and eventually this solution will issue all claim payments which, for Liberty is a significant dollar amount.

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry?

    Don't just consider it, go for it. When my nephew was picking his A-Levels he was contemplating a career in the tech industry, and I encouraged him to do so. He pursued a path in software engineering and is currently undertaking an internship and absolutely loving his role. The tech industry is an exciting one with many diverse entry routes and opportunities from entry level to highly-skilled as well as those seeking a career change. It is also an industry where diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of most leading businesses, especially at Liberty IT.

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