Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Phil Collins

  • Name: Phil Collins

    Role: Software Engineer at PEAK6 Investments (Belfast)

    What does your typical day look like?

    The great thing about PEAK6 is that there is no "typical" day. I do start my mornings with a routine that gives me a kickstart, though. I catch up on any code reviews and attend a morning meeting, but then the day can go anywhere. It’s great to be able to work on a lot of different, exciting projects.

    What are you currently working on?

    PEAK6 owns one of the best esports organisations in the world: Evil Geniuses. Right now, I'm working on their new gaming analytics platform: Factor. It brings data and predictive analytics into competitive League of Legends.

    Because of the work we've done, esports fans and viewers get more than game stats. Factor gives them insights and predictions, too. It's kind of like FiveThirtyEight, but for esports. You can see it for yourself at

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    I played a lot of computer games when I was supposed to be revising for my GCSE quizzes—lots of World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike instead of maths and English. More recently, I picked up League of Legends as my game of choice. The games are 20-40 minutes long, and they don't sap too much time from my day. So, getting a chance to work on projects for one of the best and oldest esports teams was really exciting.

    One of our core values at Evil Geniuses is Building Champions. That's not just as a player, but as a staff member too. I’ve learned and grown so much in the eight months I’ve been here, and they’re supportive of me learning and growing more.

    Did you always want to work in the tech inndustry?

    I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school. I always had an interest in technology, and I spent my evenings tinkering with computers and gaming. But my career path doesn’t fly in a straight line.

    As a kid, I aspired to be a pilot. I was in the Air Cadets, and I was lucky enough to complete a gliding scholarship, which allowed me to take off and land a plane on my own at the age of 17. I left school and started a plumbing apprenticeship. That lasted eight months before the company went bust. So, the next year I decided to become a personal trainer. I have always had an interest in sports and fitness—I've played rugby since I was eight years old. Unfortunately, I busted my shoulder right after I qualified, and that put me out for months.

    I'd been working in restaurants since I was 16, so I tried the "seasonaire" lifestyle for a while—living in different places during different seasons. This gave me the chance to live in France for six years before I moved back to the UK. When I got back, cryptocurrencies were becoming popular, so I decided to build an Ethereum mining rig. That’s when it all came full circle and I realised that technology was something I really wanted to learn more about. I started building websites for friends and family and that led me here!

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I love to learn. As a software developer, I'm constantly learning new techniques, technologies, tools, and languages. I’ve been able to combine that passion with my interest in gaming and give back to the gaming community.

    And because there's a big team of amazing developers working on lots of different projects in the PEAK6 Northern Ireland offices, there's always someone who can teach me something new.

    How do you see this technology impacting our lives?

    Factor provides in-depth analysis of professional players and teams in League of Legends for the everyday player and fans. Providing this data in a useful, easy-to- format gives the visitors the ability to make data-driven decisions on their own gameplay and helps them to improve and grow.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    No one person inspired me to work in the field. I'm inspired by how quickly technology grows and how that always means there are opportunities to learn.

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

    Working in tech opens up so many doors. There are so many different roles within the industry and so much to learn within each role. If you enjoy learning new things, tech is definitely for you!

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

    Blockchain. Similar to the internet, this technology will revolutionize how we live our lives. We're in the infancy of blockchain now—like the internet was with Netscape—but it's growing.

    Blockchain’s use in the financial industry will add a lot of transparency moving forward. It could give people an official online profile, which would keep trolls and haters off the internet. It will change the way we buy and sell houses, or any assets for that matter. Logistical information stored on a centralised database will no longer be able to be hacked and altered. There are so many possibilities.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    I could not live without my Bose speakers or headphones. I listen to music every day and enjoy listening to the music at the highest sound quality possible.

    Read more about our Tech Trailbazers on Sync NI here. Find out more about PEAK6's job opportunities on our Jobs page here.

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