Our SME this week is Endava’s Head of Innovation, Joe Dunleavy, who joined us this summer. Based in Donegal, Ireland, he brings his love for innovation, UX and UI design and his diverse industry knowledge to our teams and clients, helping us to develop ever more innovative solutions – while also enjoying the classic combination of football and beer.
Great to have you, Joe, let’s start with some questions around your career. What has brought you into the field of innovation?
As a self-confessed geek, I have always been fascinated by what is coming next, science, and technology. I get a lot of joy from helping people to make a breakthrough, so I suppose innovation seemed like a logical place to go in my career. It is also a lot of fun!
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
I’d say either the smartphone or Cloud Computing. If I had to pin myself down to just one, I would go with Cloud. It has been a big source of disruption over the past few years, and I believe it will continue to be an even bigger force going into the future.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing, and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
From a tech innovation perspective, I would say the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI). For companies to get the highest value out of AI will require changes to operating models and approaches as well as how you will need to staff your organisation in the future. There is a world-wide shortage of people with AI skills, so in terms of preparation, I would advise starting the learning journey for AI as soon as possible.
What project in your career so far are you most proud of and why?
That one is easy, I had the pleasure of working with a great team at Pramerica in Donegal, Ireland, to build an innovation capability from scratch. This included designing an innovation lab and an operating model to deliver innovation for our parent company Prudential Financial, Inc. in the US. At one stage, we had multiple mood boards of fabrics and floor finishes hanging on walls in the lab when trying to make final decisions on the finish – we got some strange looks from passers-by!
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
The project that comes to mind was back in 2012 when I moved to the US with my family for a three-year international rotation. It was October when we moved, our daughter was three years, and our son only three months old. It was tough leaving our family behind to move over 3000 miles away from home. On top of that, within two weeks of moving to Madison, New Jersey, we were struck by Hurricane Sandy which knocked out our power for over a week.
I am glad to say that things turned around for us after a bumpy start, and by the end, we had made lots of friends and got a chance to visit many parts of the US. Funnily enough, it was while I was living in the US that I was a customer of Nickelfish, who have since become part of Endava. What stood out the most for myself and my family from the whole experience was that you gain so much from living in another country, and it really stretched me professionally as well.
Now, let’s turn to some more personal questions, shall we. If you were not working as Head of Innovation at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
I would have loved to become a surgeon, but I’m not sure I would have had the grades to get to medical school.
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
Brewing craft beer or Liverpool Football Club
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Ice skating – I will never forget the time I went out skating in Bryant Park in NYC around Christmas with my 6-year-old daughter Ava. It was more her helping me than the other way around!
Who would be your 5 famous dinner party guests – real or fictional?
David Attenborough, Kathleen “Kay” McNulty, Chris Gardner, Jurgen Klopp, and Mary Robinson
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
Dark Chocolate Orange
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
“Go big or go home”
Thanks a lot for partaking in the fun, Joe. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!