Global Payments: Future of fintech and Centres of Engineering Excellence

  • US-card processing firm Global Payments has offices in Belfast and Foyle that are recognised as Centres of Excellence. Sync NI spoke to the company's Senior Director of Product Architecture, Katrina Barr, to find out more about the business.

    How does your role help shape Global Payments?

    "I direct the Product Architecture function at Global Payments. The Product Architect role is a key differentiator attributed to our success. My team ensures that the business gets the best out of our products and our collective architecture talent, while eliminating churn for engineering teams. We make sure our engineering teams are directly contributing to something great by ensuring they are working on the highest value solution at any point in time. That solution must fulfil our business needs; adhere to the highest standards of security, architecture, and quality; and fit together seamlessly when delivered by multi-discipline and globally-distributed engineering teams. Product Architects harness the combined talents of our Engineering organisation, driving delivery of the highest value work aligned with our product and business vision.

    Recently we have been working on exciting new features like Delayed Consumer Payments and innovative ways to increase the distance at the checkout for enhanced COVID safety. It is the epitome of job satisfaction to take a real business need and solve it with a solution harnessing innovation and good practices.”

    What does the future look like for Global Payments? (in terms of good news, flexible working, what is the Belfast office like? etc) 

    “As a Product Architect, I also take great personal pleasure in seeing our continued Product and Services improvements pay off. Our great Net Promoter Score gives us insight into how well our customers perceive us, and shows that we are punching really highly against other financial institutions.

    Regardless of how this pandemic pans out, working life has permanently changed. Our engineering function took to working from home during lockdown, as only a workforce of computer engineers could—it was seamless in fact. The voice of our people has been really important to how we shape the future of working at Global Payments. As a result of the feedback that we received we have enhanced our flexible working policy to better support our people, who have adapted well to working from home. Now our people will be grouped with team members who follow similar work patterns, whether that is located mostly in the office or at home. 

    We have a wonderful office. Sometimes I’ll dial into a call with someone new and they will remark “WOW!” look at your view; there goes the first five minutes of the conversation! The fact that our coffee machines were swiss-made and selected by taste test probably sets the office tone. We want to make sure that people have that option when the time comes to get back into the office to socialise while still maintaining flexibility.”

    What makes the Belfast and Foyle staff stand out? (chosen as Global Centre of Excellence/Innovation centres?)

    “It would be easy to think that in a massive company like Global Payments, our Belfast and Foyle offices would get lost. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are very much at the forefront of engineering, with much of the strategic future of our products and platforms being designed, delivered, and managed from our two key sites here in Northern Ireland. We’re lucky as we understand that this is a pretty unique position to be in when you’re part of an organisation of this magnitude. 

    Belfast and Foyle offices are a Centre of Engineering Excellence and, as a consequence, now lead the development of the Global Integrated Payment Gateways and our strategic Genius payment product. We have earned that reputation of excellence for good reason. We have been able to demonstrate how we can quickly adopt an approach of reliable high-quality development with new products and technologies. 

    The thing that makes us stand out from the rest is how we operate as a unit. From project inception right through the development lifecycle, we’ve honed and simplified the process so that everyone has a job to do that they can excel at without churn or chaos; and make a difference. We are incredibly disciplined; with Engineering working as one, the reward is more opportunity to lead major initiatives with more innovation.”

    Why is Global Payments a great place to work?

    "When recruiting we look for intelligent and capable individuals that work well in a collaborative, fast-moving environment. As a result I can genuinely say we have offices full of lovely people, which gives us a relaxed atmosphere. We follow the lean methodology that is there primarily to help our engineers be successful and focused on delivering value.

    Growing our own talent is key to our success; we have a great history of promoting from within. If I was starting out again as an engineer, Global Payments would be a great place for opportunities and also to learn what success looks like."

    What are your thoughts on Hyper Acceleration of Technology and Digital Transformation?

    "Across all sectors, customer convenience is key, and for that we are investing heavily to ensure we meet expectations. We immediately observed changes in customer buying habits and market trends as a result of COVID. The last year has significantly accelerated a trajectory the world was already on. From simplified integrations for our partners to innovative ways to pay at speed and at a social distance, we have been relentlessly pushing the boundaries with our solutions.

    Digital transformation cannot just be delivered with shiny features. The key is enabling change at speed while maintaining stability and reliability. That means optimising our products to ensure maintainability, security, simplicity, and state-of-the-art testing - all those fundamentals that must be right for us to fully embrace innovation."

    What is your advice for anyone thinking about working in the fintech industry? 

    "The world of financial technology is undergoing a revolution. Where change is afoot, that inevitably makes it interesting. It is an industry that everyone can relate to as we have all been the customer. I hadn't imagined there would be so much to fintech—one minute we are looking at payment card chip communication specifications, the next we are working with industry-leading wallet brands or defining mobile solutions. Change in the fintech industry is accelerating and there is something there for everyone."

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