Q&A with Bazaarvoice’s Seamus Cushley

  • Seamus Cushley is one of the most prominent figures in Northern Ireland’s tech community.

    He is currently the Site Lead and Vice President of Product Development at Bazaarvoice Belfast, the Texas-headquartered company that provides global product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions. Seamus is known for his work ethic, passion for technology and leadership skills. Here, he discusses with Sync NI his career to date.

    Where did it all start for you Seamus?

    I left Ulster University in 1999 with a Business Studies degree, and a solid understanding of the fundamentals of business operations. I was keen to explore the opportunities in the tech sector. Instead of going down the Master's route, I applied to the Rapid Advancement Programme (RAP).  

    The programme gave me an accelerated learning path in software development. It allowed people from a non-technical background to bridge into a career in technology. My initial roles were technically focused, allowing me to gain an in-depth  knowledge of software development and architecture. 

    How did you come to be where you are now?

    Today I’m leading the growth of the Bazaarvoice Product Development Hub in Belfast. I joined Bazaarvoice because it's an exciting innovative company with true high growth potential. It has a long-term business model and a real opportunity to scale globally. The people here are smart, tech-savvy and very passionate. 

    The team in Belfast is creating business-critical products that directly impact how some of the world’s best brands run their businesses and interact with their customers.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    One of the fundamental questions of leadership is “how to bring the best out in the people you’re responsible for and really unlock their potential?”.  So each morning that is where I start, what is important and how do I make sure the correct person understands and takes responsibility. 

    The nature of my job means I get the opportunity to work on everything from long-term strategy. At the heart of it all is our people, from finding the right people to join the Bazaarvoice team, to supporting the people we have to ensure they have the room and the environment to thrive.

    Working closely with a number of teams worldwide on a range of projects ensures no two days look the same. 

    What have you found the most challenging during your career so far?

    Earlier in my career, I’d have answered - technological challenges that face every high-tech company. But my biggest challenge, and any business’s biggest challenge and opportunity is our people. 

    No one is perfect, humans are messy and flawed and complex, and each person is very different in what drives them. But there is an underlying passion in everyone, and the real challenge is bringing out that passion and magnifying their potential. 

    How would you describe your leadership style?

    I think my leadership style has probably evolved over time. Today, I think very simply in terms of helping people. I’m a firm believer in trying to empower my team and support their career growth. 

    I believe that by focusing on the individual, and establishing an environment where learning and growth is at the heart, our overall performance improves. It’s a balance between equipping my people to grow and staying close enough to the projects to offer guidance and direction. 

    I don’t believe in micro-managing the details. It’s about empowering the team to own their role fully, and challenging them to look at things differently.

    What piece of advice would you give to a 20-year-old you?

    Say “Yes” to new opportunities, and work out how to do it when you get there. Not knowing is an advantage because you look at things differently, ask questions and learn fast!

    This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of the Sync NI magazine. You can download your FREE copy and sign up to receive future digital editions here.

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