Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
In this edition, we’re joined by Paul Maguire, our Head of Retail Delivery based in London. Being quite the people person, Paul knows the ins and outs of a great retail experience and supports our clients in providing it to their business and customers.
So great that you could join us, Paul. What has brought you into the tech industry and the retail sector?
I kind of fell into both by mistake! My languages degree got me my first job, which developed into working with the technology team to successfully improve the operation. After enjoying that problem-solving experience, a move to a big national retailer beckoned, and the rest is history.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
For me, it’s the relative simplicity and accessibility of the platforms required to run a modern retail business. When I started, everything was big, expensive software, services, and logistics providers, which made it much slower to grow or change a business. With modern SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, the barriers to entry are much lower on all fronts, which keeps things exciting and challenging.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
One thing that becomes ever more important over time is the need for businesses to do the simple things well. Modern retail applications make this easy, with the right vision. Once this is in place, businesses can innovate and differentiate, but focussing on innovation or creativity without a strong base rarely works. I think there’s still a huge opportunity for a lot of businesses to bring their basic services up to date.
What is the Endava project you are most proud of and why?
We’re working with a huge multinational CPG (consumer packaged goods) organisation to build, support, and spin off an HR rewards platform. Since I’ve been with Endava, the two great teams – from the client and our side – have moved the product and organisation forward together in a huge way. The product is starting to gain lots of traction and success in their industry; it just shows what good collaboration and focus can bring.
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?
On one occasion, I walked into a new organisation that was already about three years into a two-year web re-platforming project – with no end in sight! We launched it in the end with a lot of hard work, compromise and agile decision-making, but the learning was: make sure enough time is spent really understanding the as-is and objectives before beginning and then bite off achievable, stand-alone chunks, so you can change direction if you need to as you deliver.
Let’s move on to a few more personal questions to get to know you even better. If you were not working as a Delivery Manager at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
I’d most likely be doing something similar on the client side. I’m lucky enough to get to work with lots of different organisations all the time, but occasionally I miss the singular focus that comes with being part of a big retail business. Either that or something in hospitality – I enjoy the people side of things, so anything that lets me see lots of new people enjoying themselves sounds great.
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Golf. I’ve always been good at pretty much every sport I’ve tried, but I just cannot manage to consistently hit a golf ball, no matter how hard I try! I’m sure, over the years, my lack of ability has cost me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people on the golf course.
If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
I think that dropping in on the key players in the industrial revolution would be interesting – a time of such massive change and drive and enthusiasm for new things. The freedom to go after anything you could imagine, believing it was possible, and the optimism that brought would be fascinating to see.
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end!
Many thanks to Paul for sharing his experience and views with us. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!