“I thrive in the diversity of the tech landscape”

Gerard Grant, Director of Strategic Initiatives for TCS in Ireland, discusses his love of complex IT challenges and the importance of lifelong learning.

International IT giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has big plans for Donegal – even bigger than initial predictions earlier this year.

The company is developing a strategic hub in Donegal to deliver digital transformation, IT and business services to clients in Ireland and beyond. In May, TCS said it was hiring 170 new staff for its Donegal operation, but now hopes to employ more than 200 people.

Gerard Grant, Director of Strategic Initiatives at TCS Ireland, is a technology leader with over 25 years of experience building and managing infrastructure, platforms and teams.

He spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about his career so far and what it’s like to be a leader at TCS.

He recalls being “addicted to technology” at an early age through his school’s computer club. He first received an Apple Mac in 1989 and young Grant discovered his love for technology. After graduating he started working for a small computer company based in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

He was part of the leadership team that established Pramerica Systems Ireland in 2000. Pramerica was acquired by TCS in 2020 and Grant moved into a new leadership role at TCS.

Here, he talks about balancing his love of IT with the needs of his business-minded colleagues and clients, and gives his advice for those considering a career in technology.

“People should expect to be challenged to keep both technical and soft skills up to date”

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?

You face different challenges at different stages of your career.

Early in my career, I struggled with the fact that not everyone was as passionate about complex IT solutions as I was and just wanted the business outcome, while I was intimately focused on the details and nuances of building, deploying and maintaining the technology over the long term.

Over time, I learned how to simplify the presentation of concepts to align them with business strategy and articulate the impact technology will have on the business and its employees and customers.

When you move into management, it’s a balancing act of wanting to stay technical in your field while being mindful of the demands of people and financial management. Overcoming this was simply a matter of narrowing the focus technologically and managing finances effectively so that you could focus most of your time on people.

Was there a person who was particularly influential in the development of your career?

I think everyone I’ve worked for and worked with has taught me something different. As a student working part-time for a small computer company in Donegal, I learned the importance of technical quality as rework is a significant cost to the business.

In large multinational companies, I worked for people who were brilliant at processes, managing stakeholders and promoting lifelong learning.

In my current role working for a large technology company, there is much to learn in terms of customer success management, product management and partnering with customers to deliver large technology projects.

What do you like most about your job?

Diversity; my role is at the intersection of service delivery, technology design and people management. I work with colleagues and clients from all over the world. Everyone has very different challenges and opportunities, and I thrive on the diversity of the technology landscape and sharing with them how we can help them on their journey of transformation.

What aspects of your personality do you think make you a good fit for this job?

Energy and capacity – I try to put a lot of energy into every interaction I have. I believe it is important whether in the early stages of a project or in the scenario where the commitment needs a reset and restart to move in the right direction.

I balance this with a significant capacity to take on both technical people and organizational challenges. I enjoy solving them and I don’t mind how complicated or time consuming they are – it’s great to get people together and solve them as a team!

What can people expect from career development in this industry?

Technology companies are a great example of the practical application of lifelong learning. During my tenure I have studied business, law and have completed an MSc in Leadership and Innovation alongside many technical and internal leadership programmes.

People should expect to be challenged to keep both technical and soft skills up to date, and great companies like TCS reciprocate with advancement opportunities.

What advice would you give to those considering or just starting a career in this field?

If someone is considering a career change to tech, focus on the areas with really high demand right now and great incubation or transition programs. You can go down a specific application or product route like Salesforce and Service Now, or look for more industry-type skills like cloud and cyber.

For those starting out, gain a broad range of experience across a range of technologies and disciplines before concentrating on a specialist area. In addition, understand the universal skills that require continuous maintenance and practice in terms of both technical, people management and financial skills.

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