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In case you missed it: A look back at some of our most popular posts from 2021

  • Liberty IT: Making things better through innovation

    Sam Mawhinney is the Director of Liberty IT’s innovation division, Incubator.  Liberty IT is the software house for global Fortune 100 company, Liberty Mutual Insurance. He chats about leadership, finding the right teammates and exciting new opportunities within his team.

    "When trying to lead a successful technology team, one of the key priorities is making sure that you've got the right talent and have created the right environment for the team to be successful.

    This means making sure there is a clear connection between the work the team is doing and the impact that work is having for the customer – something I believe is absolutely critical.

    Incubator is an innovation team and one of the things we do is look for people with a range of backgrounds, not just solely traditional software engineering.

    RELATED: Liberty IT's Belfast staff 'don't have to come into the office' if they don't want to

    In addition to our talented engineers, we have teammates who specialise in data science, consultancy and product design – with experience from a broad range of industries, including aviation, telecoms and finance.  Being able to leverage that diversity of thought and background drives our creativity further than ever before. 

    In school, I always was interested in engineering because I love solving problems, and love building things.  It’s a special feeling seeing something you have designed and built satisfy a customer’s need - that never stops being awesome to me.  I’ve always found that feeling motivating and, as the range and complexity of problems software can solve continues to expand, it's an incredible industry to be working in.

    Merge capabilities to accelerate business growth

    When building effective growth strategies, we look at current and future customer needs, leveraging data and insights to establish what more can we do to push ourselves further in solving a pain point or enhancing a customer experience.

    As we continue to evolve our Incubator team, we’re constantly looking for more diversity of capability and skill sets. There's been a huge shift over the years in terms of what a traditional software development team looks like, and that will continue to change. It’s about being agile and flexible and embracing it.

    RELATED: Two diversity and inclusion awards for Liberty IT

    I would advise anyone thinking of transitioning or enhancing their technical skillset to go for it. Learn the fundamentals of whatever your field is – whether it’s consultancy, design or writing software - the core principles don’t change. Then try to understand what the customer needs are. Beyond that, be open to learning from those around you. Look for good coaches and mentors and take the opportunity to try different career paths.

    If your first dip into technology doesn't quite work out, there are plenty of other roles. It's such a broad space. You get to work with people on your own team, with customers, with external companies, vendors and universities. It’s such an enriching experience, and there’s definitely something for everyone in it, if you stick to it and are committed.

    There’s never been a more exciting time to work in tech

    Every year seems like it's the most exciting year for us at Liberty IT.

    If you think about what's happening around the world, the nature and the severity of risk has changed – cyber-attacks, the pandemic, the frequency of extreme weather events - our customers experience a lot more risk which naturally affects their insurance premiums.

    There are now even higher expectations in terms of digital services, particularly in finance and insurance. Customers demand digital first – for their experiences to be intuitive and frictionless.

    The good thing is that whilst the risk and the expectations are increasing, the capabilities of the technologies that allow us to meet those needs are also increasing.

    RELATED: Liberty IT’s Tony Marron: Tech skills needed post-Covid

    Thinking about cloud technologies, the availability and emergence of data science and engineering teams working together to solve problem, it's such an exciting time.

    A recent project we completed was around hail alerts. Hail is a big deal in the US, as there are around 4,500 hailstorms a year. That would equate to around one and a half million insurance claims for damage. The hailstones there are much bigger and do a lot more damage than in the UK.

    We have recently launched a proactive alerting system. Therefore, if there are hailstorms in the vicinity of our customers, we send an alert, and it gives them time to go and move their cars or property out of harm’s way.  We have 30,000 people on our current pilot and around half have proactively moved their possessions out of incoming hailstorms, which is an amazing result! We’ve leveraged predictive data and delivered a digital connection with our customers, to make a difference in their lives, which is exactly where we want to be.

    Come work with all kinds of innovators at Liberty IT

    We’re growing and hiring another 150 people to join Liberty IT this year, and we’ve just passed the halfway mark.  Our Incubator team is also growing. We’re continuing to see such a great calibre of not only experienced talent, but also with our talented graduates and interns. They want more responsibility and accountability, and in Liberty IT that’s exactly what they get.

    With many of our interns who are going back and finishing their degrees this year, they don't want to let their engagement go. They want to keep trying to solve the problem, which is great because that means they're fully engaged and committed and that's what you get when you're in a supportive team and you can see the impact you have.

    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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