Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Mary Fealty

  • Name: Mary Fealty

    Role: Founder, Broadtree Solutions

    Bio: Northern Ireland based data solutions specialist, who thrives on helping customers with their data journey.

    What does your typical day look like?

    Early riser. My day starts with three cups of coffee, letting out the hens, walking the dogs and getting stuck in working on projects, responding to emails and phone queries from customers. I might be delivering training or meeting customers in their workplaces. I regularly speak at Power BI events in different cities, so I could be prepping for that.

    What are you currently working on?

    Many things, from delivering BROKERi to my latest customer to working on a Power BI project for a local company, but the one that stands out is a Power BI project for a female lead Belfast based IoT company, Kinsetsu. The project provides analytical insight on the movement of children, which is part of a bigger piece of work they are doing for the Northern Ireland Education Authority. Joanne O’Doherty of Kinsetsu talks about it here: https://www.kinsetsu.co.uk/esri-conference2019/

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    I had worked for my last company, Hughes Insurance, for over 18 years. When I left in 2012 I decided to set up my own company, Broadtree Solutions. My goal then was to provide other Insurance Brokers access to the same level of detailed M.I. that larger companies had. This resulted in a product called BROKERi. BROKERi provides an affordable solution that lets users immediately see how they are performing across their business. It is now used by Insurance Brokers throughout the island of Ireland.

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

    My career story is atypical. I didn’t go to university and haven’t formally studied IT. I’m entirely self-taught. Left school at 17 and found my own pathway into tech. While I was working in insurance, I found I had a fascination and aptitude for working with data. I embraced my inner nerd and studied in my free time. Something clicked.

    It started with Excel, then MS Access, then SQL and finally (for now) MS Power BI. Until recently I always felt embarrassed that I left school without any real formal qualifications and didn’t go to university. Now I’m extremely proud of what I’ve managed to achieve on my own.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    Inspiring others to work with Power BI through speaking engagements as well, providing training course so they can use it in their industry would be top of the list. The second part is the variety of projects I get to work on. Put it this way, I am never bored.

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

    If you enjoy solving problems, then Tech is a great place to work. Plus, there is a real sense of community. With Power BI for example, there are Meetups across Ireland, UK, most of which I have had the pleasure of speaking at. Here is a shameless plug, as Belfast is also to get a Power Platform User Group, which I am thrilled to be a part of. The first meetup is on the 23rd Jan 2020 at Ormeau Baths, 6pm onward.

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?

    Power BI, Power Query & Power Pivot in Excel, are all tools that would benefit any business. With Power BI what people see is the beautiful data visualisations that provide the insight businesses need, but this is the tip of the iceberg. Robust ETL processes, rich calculations, connecting to any data source, securely sharing data are just some of its other features. Though I reckon one of its biggest advantages is that people really enjoy working with it, meaning they are more likely to find solutions for their industry that create real impact.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    At the start (long time ago) there wasn’t anyone out there that I knew of to get me started. But now there are just so many people who inspire me it’s hard to select only some. A lot of my role models are other women doing incredible & important work across the globe.

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

    Power BI, of course.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    My mobile phone!

    About the author

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