Interviews

Q & A with PEAK6 Northern Ireland’s Darren Abel

  • The Sync NI team sat down for a Q&A wirh PEAK6 Northern Ireland's Darren Abel.

    For anyone who maybe isn’t familiar with PEAK6, can you explain a bit about what you do?

    PEAK6 Investments (PEAK6) was founded nearly 25 years ago by Jenny Just and Matt Hulsizer. Due to the success of the company in the trading space, PEAK6 has expanded by investing in several different businesses and domains. In Belfast, we have a very strong team of Engineers, Support, and Operations staff, who deliver value to all of our core businesses, including PEAK6 Capital Management, PEAK6 Strategic Capital, Apex Fintech Solutions, National Flood Services, and the esports team Evil Geniuses.

    What’s your favourite thing about working for PEAK6?

    There are so many different things I love about working for PEAK6, but if I had to choose one, it would be the culture. PEAK6 aims to do things “as they ought to be.” That means embracing and empowering consumers through technology, simplifying processes, and improving performance.  This attitude is at the core of all of our businesses. We aim to continuously improve and are not afraid to change our approach as we learn from our mistakes or identify better ways of working.

    PEAK6 has an open-door policy where you can speak with leaders at all levels of our businesses, and we operate with a lean mindset. We also have a fantastic environment.We work hard, but also have lots of fun in the process.

    Evil Geniuses recently launched their new product, Factor. Can you tell us a bit about what went into that milestone?

    Factor is an analytics platform that transforms raw data taken from League of Legends matches into meaningful insights that users can understand. This product has been developed by a team of Evil Geniuses developers in both Belfast and in the United States. It has attracted a lot of attention from the League of Legends gaming community due to its live analysis and predictive analytics engine that was developed here at PEAK6. The first release of the project to the public took just over six months, and we are continuing to add new features daily based on user feedback and requests.

    PEAK6 has been doing some great work in fintech. How did you get started with that?

    As I mentioned earlier, PEAK6 is involved in many different areas, but a large portion of our businesses operates in the fintech space. This is a fiercely competitive industry, and PEAK6 has become a force for change, actively promoting and supporting a diverse work culture and making it easy for regular people to trade.

    For me personally, my career has always been in the software industry, and I’m a programmer at heart. I started out working for a small network management start-up in the telecoms sector, before making the switch to work as a Software Engineer for a large investment bank in Belfast. 

    One of the biggest changes for me in moving from telecommunications to fintech was the shift in mindset. I was now working for a firm that operates 24 hours per day and therefore required our software to also be running all the time. If the system went down, then trades could not be performed, which means the business would potentially be losing a lot of money.

    It's imperative to focus on writing quality code that was rigorously tested. After working for a large firm for numerous years, I decided to work in consultancy for a few years, before I got the exciting opportunity to join PEAK6 as a Director of Engineering in Belfast and also employee number two.

    What does the future look like for PEAK6?

    The future is extremely exciting for PEAK6. We are continuing to grow through, and PEAK6 NI is central to the firm’s strategic growth plans due to the quality of talented people in Northern Ireland. Over the last 18 months, we have hired a fantastic team of over 60 employees in Belfast, and we plan to double that in 2022.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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