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Industry Insights Your Future in Digital and ICT Employer Panel

Listen back for our Employer Panel Your Future in Digital and ICT

Did you know Belfast was recently ranked as one of the best places in Europe for tech firms by fDi Intelligence, a specialist division of the Financial Times?

The tech sector in Northern Ireland is booming but how can you break into the industry if you come from a non-computing academic background?

The IT sector is constantly changing with developments and advancements in technology. Employers in the sector need graduates with technical know-how to solve problems, but they also need graduates to work across their business, marketing, human resources and finance functions.

Meet our panel of key players from the tech industry and hear about their unusual routes into the sector and the variety of roles on offer for graduates from any discipline, watch the video from the event.

Employer Panel for Industry Insights Your Future in Digital and ICT

Dr Aidan McGowan from Queen's University standing with arms folded
Keynote speaker: Dr Aidan McGowan, Queen's University Belfast

Dr Aidan McGowan is a senior lecturer in Computer Science in Queen’s University Belfast.

Aidan’s philosophy of teaching includes a personalisation of learning, industry focus and a determination to make his teaching accurate, relevant and fun.

Aidan is particularly active with outreach initiatives in schools, promoting the discipline of Computing especially to traditionally under represented females. Aidan has had international impact with his research particularly in the use of new and novel technologies to identify new Leaner Analytics to promote retention levels of university level computing students.

Following on from several years working as Software Engineer in Europe and in the USA  Aidan began teaching in Queen’s University Belfast in 2013. Aidan pioneered the use of Lecture Capture, Bring Your Own Device, Pre-recorded Lecture Videos and the innovative use of Lab based videos within a complex programming module in one of the largest MSc Computing conversion courses in the UK. Later becoming the course director the course was rated by the PTES (2019) as the overall top performing Computing MSc in the UK for student experience.

The underlying theme of Aidan’s research area is to better understand current practise in order to lead to improvements in the education of computing.

headshot of Gareth Quinn from Kairos
Gareth Quinn, Kairos, COO

Gareth is co-founder of Kairos, a sports technology platform offering the world’s leading communications platform for elite sports teams. Co-founded with ex-Ireland and Ulster player, Andrew Trimble, Kairos has gained significant traction with customers in countries across the world including the UK, Ireland, US, Australia, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Spain and Croatia.

Gareth grew up in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and having worked in various jobs growing up including a fish factory, bottle recycling plant, glass factory, bars, a steelworks and call centres before randomly getting the job of running elections in Belfast. Gareth would go on to work in Belfast City Hall before running the Lord Mayor’s office for a spell

In 2013, Gareth founded Digital DNA, a technology events and media business which focused on helping indigenous businesses harness technology for growth as well as promoting Belfast as an attractive FDI opportunity. As part of Digital DNA, Gareth founded Digital Futures a programme which helped inspire young people to a career in technology with the winning team of the annual competition securing a trip to visit some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known technology companies. Gareth lead the acquisition of Digital DNA by the Business Post Media group in 2019.

Outside of Gareth’s business interests he has a huge passion for Northern Ireland and its role within the island of Ireland and specifically for Belfast and believes that the ambition, capability and relentlessness of businesses and individuals there are the catalyst for future prosperity.

Headshot of David McGarry from Riskonnect
David McGarry, Riskonnect, Senior Director

David says: “I have worked with many companies across multiple industries. In the most successful programs, the customer maps out existing processes to determine if changes are required or desired.

Any changes should be mapped out and agreed to before implementing any risk management solution.”

Headshot of Marguerite Clarke from Version 1
Marguerite Clarke, Version 1, Business Development Manager

Marguerite has held management positions within private and public sector organisations including Invest NI, Neueda and recently joined the specialist IT Services company, Version 1.  

Marguerite works with Version 1’s clients helping them modernise, innovate and accelerate their business & technical transformation.  

Marguerite is Co-Chair for the board Action For Children Northern Ireland who raise funds for the charity to protect and support children and young people.  

Marguerite graduated from QUB with a BA in Business and Management and attended Harvard Extension School in Boston to continue gaining business knowledge that she uses in the workplace.

Columb Duffy from Allstate holding up a promotional sign
Columb Duffy, Allstate, Manager of Technology Innovation, R&D and Architecture

Columb has worked in IT for 30 years. At Allstate, he is a senior manager leading Innovation R&D and solutions architecture practice.

He also leads a council/educational partnership outside of work on developing the talent pipeline of IT professionals, and is passionate about creating business value through tech innovations.