Interviews

Q&A with Apex’s Robyn Andrews

  • Sync NI sat down with Robyn Andrews, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at the Apex Fintech Solutions Belfast office, to talk about how she cultivates the talent needed to carry out the company's innovative vision.

    Over the last two decades, Northern Ireland has firmly established itself as a global leader in fintech and cyber security. Bolstered by a combination of world-class talent, highly competitive operation costs, a focus on research, and a robust infrastructure in a low-risk, pro-business environment, Northern Ireland's financial sector is booming.

    Sync NI: Apex Fintech Solutions celebrated its second anniversary in Northern Ireland. You've worked there for one year and are responsible for recruiting the talent in the Belfast office. How much has the business grown and evolved during this period?

    Robyn Andrews: We initially started as an expansion of our existing technology departments across the PEAK6 business groups, with Belfast being the first office outside of the United States. As part of the company's strategic plan, the most significant growth area in the technology and operations space has been Apex Fintech Solutions. We have expanded to over 90 people in our Belfast office and have many more opportunities across our teams as we continue to grow.

    A year ago, we hired our first non-technology team to support the clearing and operations sides of the business. We also have teams comprised of margin analysts, client experience middle office specialists, and operations specialists within banking, treasury, and wealth management.

    Sync NI: What do you think are the most important attributes of a successful team, and what characteristics do you look for in a team member?

    Robyn Andrews: We look for people who are not afraid to disrupt the status quo. People who are looking for something new, something better, something worth their remarkable talents. We hire extraordinary talent who understand how to work as a cross-functional team, are positive and collaborative, and who possess a keen understanding of the latest tech stacks and technologies.

    Our environment is one in which every voice is heard and where there is no such thing as a stupid question. It doesn't matter where your name appears on the company organization chart — everyone works toward the same goal.

    Sync NI: Many companies have commented on the need for greater diversity in the workplace, including upskilling people from non-stem backgrounds. What opportunities exist with Apex for people from non-STEM backgrounds?

    Robyn Andrews: I've worked in IT recruitment for more than five years, but I didn't come from a STEM background. I've learned about SDLC and technology through working closely with tech people.

    We like to focus on the person and their ability to learn. There are many transferable skills from other areas of study that can significantly benefit the fintech industry. We just hired seven recent graduates, five of whom have different degrees and have worked in various other fields, including physiotherapy. One person had a chemistry degree and then went on to do a master conversion course in software development.

    Apex is known for not being satisfied with the status quo. We have a huge focus on learning and development. Everyone is encouraged to take courses and work with their managers to create their career paths. If you're in a non-technical role but would like to make the switch, it's entirely possible and achievable.

    Sync NI: Are any two days the same in your role, and what do you consider the most rewarding aspects?

    Robyn Andrews: With growth plans across all of our technology and business operations teams, I work on a variety of projects from crypto to esports to onboarding clients. Talent acquisition is not only about finding someone whose skills fit the position but also finding someone who matches the company culture and will flourish within it. It's rewarding to watch new hires succeed, grow, and prosper.

    It's quite a dynamic role, recruiting, hiring, and developing new talent. I focus on networking and building relationships across the business and strengthening our brand in the local market. It's important to communicate who we are, our mission, and our values to attract top talent. It’s fast-paced, exciting work in a supportive and collaborative environment. No day is the same.

    Sync NI: Finally, as the fintech sector in NI continues to gain global recognition, what do you think are the key drivers for this, and is there more we can do to safeguard Northern Ireland's standing in global fintech?

    Robyn Andrews: Both Apex and PEAK6 recognize Belfast as one of the top fintech locations of the future and seek to bring this world-class talent to the industry. Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University offer renowned degrees in finance, computer science, and software engineering. By partnering with these universities, fintech companies can access the latest expertise in next-generation development.

    Investing in Northern Ireland and the universities is crucial to enable people from all walks of life to invest in their futures and continue to build up Belfast's tech workforce.

    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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