Our guest this week is Scott Harkey, EVP Financial Services & Payments, who recently joined the Endava family as part of the awesome team at Levvel. Scott is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his talents extend far beyond his expertise in the tech and finance space into the realms of music and sports.
Welcome, Scott. Let’s start with some questions around your work and career. What has brought you into the tech industry and the Financial Services & Payments sector?
I’ve been interested in computers from a really young age but quickly learned that programming was not well suited for me. I wanted to stay close to technology though, so I have always pursued opportunities where I can use my knowledge and interest in technology to help drive business decisions and outcomes. My first professional job over 20 years ago was at a large US bank, and I’ve been hooked on financial services and payments ever since.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
Technology is truly taking over the world and I have been fortunate to live through a number of game-changing inventions like the iPhone, electric cars, and GPS. However, the invention that has had the most impact on how all companies use and integrate technology is the API. We are still in the early stages of the work, but APIs open entirely new ways for companies to build, integrate, and leverage technology and invent new business models.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
One of the biggest opportunities in the payments space is the proliferation of real-time payments. The combination of APIs and the roll-out of real-time payment systems around the world is changing the way businesses and consumers buy, pay, and transfer money. There is a tremendous opportunity for companies to create new products, add convenience, and delight customers with compelling new experiences.
What is the Endava project you are most proud of and why?
I am new to Endava and just starting to learn more about the great work the company is doing. Sticking with the payments theme, the standout for me so far is the work that Endava has done for a world-leading payments provider on real-time payments (RTP). I’ve spent a number of years working with financial institutions to plan for and integrate the RTP network, so to now be part of the company that actually helped build the network itself is really exciting!
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 financial services space is evolving rapidly, and many financial institutions are reinventing themselves by building new digital banks. We worked with one organisation that started a digital bank effort, and we collectively put in a lot of work to design and build the new bank using modern technology tools and services. These efforts can be hard because they often require the client to re-think how they build and deploy technology, which is as much about culture as it is technology. Ultimately, the client couldn’t get the organisational buy-in needed to make the culture change and cancelled the effort before the launch. Based on that experience, we decided to create content on organisational change and make that part of the early conversations with clients to help them better understand the changes required to make these types of efforts successful.
And on to the even more fun part – the more personal questions! If you were not working as EVP Financial Services & Payments at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
For the last 20 years, I’ve had a side business running a record label that is more of a hobby than anything. I’d love to be able to run that full time and help musicians get their music out into the word.
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
I have spent a good bit of my career working on digital payments and specifically digital wallets. I love talking about the topic and am fortunate to have helped build several major payment deployments, such as Apple Pay, G Pay, Samsung Pay, and others. Feel free to ask me about tokenisation, ID&V, and ISO messages!
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
I am very active and enjoy running, biking, and any outdoor activity, really. Several years ago, I decided I’d participate in a triathlon – despite the fact that I had never tried swimming any real distance. It did not go well. Within a 100 metres, I was out of breath and needed to hold on to a support canoe to make sure I didn’t drown. I managed to work my way through the rest of the swim but was the last person out of the water and was pretty humbled. After that experience, I went and practiced swimming laps at the local pool to ensure I never got myself into that situation again. I also reminded myself that being confident in your own ability is great but being recklessly overconfident is not.
And finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip. (Dean Karnazes)
Many thanks to Scott for plunging in at the deep end! Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!