Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazer - Finbar Clenaghan

  • Finbar Clenaghan, Solutions Engineer at Liberty IT

    What does your typical day look like?

    My days can be quite varied – I could be working on designs of new systems, coaching senior technical staff and meeting with colleagues locally from Liberty IT or based in the US.

    Liberty IT gives employees the opportunity to decide how and where they work and I chose our remote workstyle which means I mainly work at home. It’s been great to get back into the office recently for occasional in-person events such as an ’unconference’, where I took part in facilitated discussions with leaders and other engineers, and a ‘gallery walk’ where we demoed some of our work to visiting customers from our parent company, Liberty Mutual Insurance.

    What are you currently working on?

    I’ve been working in Liberty IT for about 17 years. As a Solutions Engineer, I’m currently tech lead over three teams in the Digital Dialogue space – one in Liberty IT and two in Liberty Mutual. My teams work on SMS, email, and mobile push notifications.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    Liberty is owned by its policyholders and its creed is ‘helping people live safer, more secure lives’ which I find inspiring in my work. I was also attracted by Liberty IT’s world-leading engineering and the fact that so many employees have presented at highly respected conferences such as AWS re:Invent.

    Did you always want to work in this industry?

    Yes, I’ve always been interested in technology and science, preferring subjects such as maths and physics. I studied Computing at GCSE and A-Level and Engineering and Computing Science at Oxford University.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I love using new technology to solve real problems. We recently had a challenge to predict which ‘template’ responses an insurance representative was likely to choose based on the previous messages in the conversation with the customer. This enabled me to investigate machine learning and how it could be used to solve this – I won a Best Student prize in a Liberty Mutal Data Science Challenge for my efforts.

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

    I would definitely encourage people to consider a job in tech. Most jobs are now impacted by tech and it’s empowering to be able to build and use tech to your own advantage.

    How do you see this technology impacting our lives?

    Tech makes our lives easier and we are constantly looking at ways to enhance the digital customer experience.

    An area I’m currently working on is ‘omnichannel’ customer communications which will help us to fully understand the customer journey and provide better, more efficient, and holistic, service to them, which will benefit everyone. For example, if a customer has started a process on the website and then has to ring the call centre, the agent will have knowledge of the process started on the website.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    When I was young, my parents got a BBC Computer, which I learned to program games on and I knew from then that this is what I always wanted to do. So I would say it is my parents who have most inspired me to work in tech.

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

    I am a great proponent of serverless computing and I recently completed the AWS Serverless Badge exam. I find it very empowering to be able to build sophisticated software systems by configuring all the infrastructure from code and only pay for what you use.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    Since Covid I have been walking a lot for exercise. I recently purchased some cheap wireless earphones and they have been great to be able to listen to podcasts while I get some fresh air!

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