What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?
We are all riding the wave of digital transformation, which is an incredibly exciting time for our industry. Digital transformation is possible because of new technologies such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence, but ultimately it is about people. Our suite of cobots (collaborative chatbots) will work 24/7 on time-consuming tasks, empowering employees to be more creative and collaborative, as well as making more time for human connections.
Work doesn’t need to suck. Work is a pivotal part of all our identities, and at LiveTiles we have a passion to make work wonderful and use tech in a way that enables us to focus on the most productive aspects of our work, and to make better use of our precious time so we can live life to the fullest.
What set you on the road to where you are now?
I attained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business studies from the National University of Ireland Galway and the Institute of Technology Sligo, respectively.
I made plenty of lateral and horizontal moves over the years, despite not necessarily possessing all the answers or having the specific experience. I focused on enabling the teams for success, challenging the status quo and encouraging teams to embrace technology that would reduce mundane tasks. My experience across multiple disciplines in spearheading many culture-related initiatives and my interest in the future of technology led me to this exciting and enjoyable role I am in today with LiveTiles.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Early on in my career, I didn’t invest the time to understand my value prop and the type of businesses and leaders that I wanted to work with. In the early days, I sought mentorship from my bosses and, while it’s a natural person to turn to, your boss can often not be the best mentor and I found that it sometimes complicated the working relationship. I quickly learned that I was good at cultivating relationships with a wide variety of people across the business, and I developed mentoring criteria and asked different people to mentor me in different areas, and that yielded far better results for me. My advice is to explore your options and look all around the organisational structure. Your mentors don’t have to be senior to you.
How do you get the best out of your team?
I listen to understand, I applaud behaviours and performance, and I promote the fact that feedback is a gift – and I give it and seek it regularly. I set expectations and success criteria on any projects outside the day-to-day tasks, and I ensure that the environment is an open and forward-thinking one and that we talk about challenges along the way. I champion that we should always try new things to remain effective and relevant, so I build a culture that enables creativity and experimentation and where failure is not feared. I view fast failure as a natural consequence of developing for the future with a growth mindset.
‘Work doesn’t need to suck’
– ELAINE MURPHY
I recognise that having noses to the grindstone all day, every day, is unhealthy and can breed negativity, so I ensure we have lots of fun, too. We even have a team member that has responsibilities under a ‘chief fun officer’ role. We regularly enjoy team-building activities and we take the time to get to know each other so that that work at LiveTiles is enjoyable.
STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and other demographics. Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector? What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to be more inclusive?
The criticism is deserved, and I believe we need to collectively tackle this issue as a matter of urgency. The challenge is well known but the diagnosis and solutions are less straightforward. This needs a multistakeholder approach including students, parents, teachers, universities, education agencies and, of course, industry.
In our own case we have a very disproportionate gender balance, which we are very aware of, but we receive very few qualified female applicants. In some instances, we received zero female applicants, which means in the short term our hands are tied. Here in the north-west we have teamed up with schools, higher-level institutes and local tech companies to spread awareness and to promote tech as a rewarding career for girls and women. We aim to succeed in this, but results will not happen overnight.
Who is your role model and why?
This is a tough one – I really don’t have one individual. I enjoy reading about women who didn’t take a traditional route into the tech world but have risen to be hugely influential and have leveraged their influence in tech to help others. I also enjoy reading about unsung heroes such as Carol Shaw, who is behind some of the best graphics in retro video games. She is considered the first female video game designer and programmer, and was with Atari in the early days.
I enjoy being around problem-solvers and I’m fascinated with how decisions get derailed, how people deal with failure and how women overcome adversity in male-dominated industries. For anyone that hasn’t read or heard about Stephanie (aka Steve) Shirley, her story is inspiring. She took lots of risks in her career and has helped pave the way for others by breaking through the glass ceiling that limits women’s career growth, and she never gave up despite many setbacks and difficulties.
What books have you read that you would recommend?
I’m veering more and more towards articles and podcasts than books recently, and that’s because of time constraints and wanting to get to the end in a timely manner! A book that I refer back to and have reread recently is Originals by Adam Grant. It’s full of interesting studies and stories spanning multiple industries including sports, politics and entertainment. It provides tips from diverse topics around parents and teachers and how they can nurture originality in children, to how leaders can fight groupthink to build cultures that welcome dissent. I find it satisfying to read triumphs around the rejection of conformity and improving the status quo.
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
We use a mixed environment of tools here. Some of us are using Surface Books, others are using Macs. LiveTiles is heavily invested in the Office 365 suite, so we are heavy users of Microsoft Cloud services, and we use Teams and Yammer for communication. All of these have great mobile versions, which is crucial.
Our intranet pulls all the internal comms and resources together seamlessly and is a critical platform for collaboration across our organisation. For this, we walk the talk and use our flagship product, which is LiveTiles Designer, with multiple add-on tiles and chatbot integrations. Git is our source control. And Spotify provides the playlist!
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