Women in Tech series, Triona O’Keeffe, shares her experiences and insights of working in tech.

My career so far

I started on the graduate program at Logica, initially as a software developer. I learned a huge amount as a graduate - we were encouraged to take on different roles on various projects and had great support & mentorship, all of which was brilliant for growing my skills and knowledge.  It gave me a really broad base of experience of working in technology and business. I loved it so much that I stayed for 13 years before I was tempted by a new role at an Investment Management firm – Man Investments - where I led global software development (including some very interesting trading systems) and global infrastructure.  After I had my son Cian in 2010, I was ready for a change (and less travel) and I moved to Deutsche Bank in London as a Managing Director in Technology which was a very diverse & interesting role.  I joined Direct Line Group in October 2016, my first time working in insurance.

My current role

My role as CIO at Direct Line Group has two main elements: ensuring the production services are running well and delivering change.  When I first joined DLG, I spent a lot of time focusing on the former as it is absolutely critical to our business that services are operating well – getting data to the right places on time, running batches, making sure colleagues can login and serve customers, having a phone that rings when it’s supposed to … it’s a long list.  And there are always changes happening to services and new services being introduced – with all of this going on, we have to be sure that we have everything set up and ready to run.  Once something is live and you have colleagues & customers using it, it simply needs to work. It sounds quite easy, to say “give me technology that works, make sure it doesn’t break, and if it does break, make sure it’s fixed quickly” but there’s an enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure those things happen.

We’ve made a huge amount of progress with the day-to-day running of the production services here and they are working much better now, so a lot more of my current focus is on delivering change. This can be ensuring technology-enabled business projects get the right attention or about driving change in the way we work and how we go about things - automation and agile are great examples of the latter. I spend a lot of time in program steering groups, working through resourcing with my team, making sure the cost base is appropriate  and helping to solve problems – I’m still a developer at heart!  The people aspects are hugely important to my role – whether that’s focussing on developing people, mentoring, working to support  emotional intelligence,  ensuring that we reward people fairly, keeping the team up to date on what is going on – it’s one of my favourite parts of the job!

It’s essential that I stay up-to-date with new technology trends and we have a fantastic Chief Technology Office, Sarah Greasley, who helps keep me up to speed. I also go to external events, which is important for my own education and helps me bring new ideas to the organisation. I’m a member of various different groups, so I have a network where I can hear about what other people are doing. I think this is really important for anyone working in tech.

There’s lots of variety in my role, which is a huge appeal for me – and as an organisation there are some big developments happening with technology, which are exciting to be involved in. I’m really proud that I am helping Direct Line Group transform insurance again; so much of what we need in order to do this involves enabling the right technology.

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