Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazer: Fiachra McVicker

  • Name:  Fiachra McVicker.

    Role:  Engineering Coach, Aflac NI

    What does your typical day look like?

    Starts with a coffee and a catch-up with the team. Ensuring we have the time and space to plan out the day. My mornings are quieter in comparison to the afternoons when the US teams are online. The quieter mornings mean I have more time to really focus on development work. We also have Focus Fridays where we plan in and dedicate space in our week for learning and development.

    What are you currently working on?

    We’re establishing a new team here in Belfast to develop a platform which will act as the business-critical glue between our world-class policyholder, agent and partner web and mobile applications and our core data, workflow, and security services and systems.  It supports our implementation of an Enterprise Data Model that is enabling us to modernise our underlying systems and software without impact to our web and mobile apps, as well as allowing us to build a new Event Driven Architecture. This enables Aflac to serve customers in near real-time and helps our product teams to reimagine the experience for the customer.  ​

    The platform is based on a modern microservices architecture using API gateway technologies, Java Spring Boot containerised services, and a focus on migrating the platform to AWS. This team will set out the core technical architecture and engineering best practices for the platform as it moves to the cloud.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    Not long after Aflac NI launched in October 2019 a trusted friend reached out and told me all the amazing things about it as she had recently joined there. Two and half years later I haven’t been disappointed!

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    I have an undergraduate in Civil Engineering, so no. However, my dad has a background in computer science, and I’ve always found it came quite naturally to me. When I completed the Software Development Masters in QUB it confirmed that this industry is where I want to continue to develop my career.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    The culture at Aflac NI, the people, and the opportunities. I really can get involved in anything I want – which is both exciting and scary! Although Aflac in the US, a 67-year-old Fortune 500 supplemental health insurance business is extremely well established and very successful, here in Belfast we pride ourselves on being a nearly 3-year-old tech company. We say we have the agility of a start-up with the stability of a Fortune 500 and I can say that feeling is true.

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

    Belfast is considered one of the main tech innovation hubs in the world which makes it an exciting place to be right now. The tech industry is buzzing, there is a wide array of opportunities and companies right here in Northern Ireland. This makes it a competitive place to work with great people to work with and learn from.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    I mentioned before but my Dad inspired me to get into tech and I’ve never looked back.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    Mobile technology – for example, the ability to have information at your fingertips. Be that a location, a menu, a claims form, anything! 20 years ago if you told someone you’d be at a certain place at a certain time you had no choice but to be there!

    How do you see this technology impacting our lives?

    For me and my role at Aflac, it's the progression and advancement in this technology that has enabled our agents in the field to meet the customer's needs in ways that weren’t possible before. Moving from a paper-based industry that was complex and potentially slow, mobile technology has enabled a customer or an agent to submit a claim in minutes, from a location that suits them.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    I hate to say it, but my phone.

    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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