Many things can happen in a year, and within the last 12 months at Spark, we’ve had the pleasure of working with our Lead of Delivery, John "Swan" Fagan. To mark his first full year here, we decided to dive deeply into how he came to Spark, what exciting projects lie ahead, and how he's grown within the company.
What enticed you to Spark?
I was living in London and had been seeking opportunities in the Irish market for a long time to move home. I had two-three offers on the table in the UK that were remote. While these positions seemed great, something just wasn’t quite right. While searching for the right role, an ad popped up on Indeed for the position at Spark (I think it was Indeed). It’s funny because Indeed is a place where I would never usually look. The role looked very interesting, so I applied.
What followed was a call with Steve Bell about Spark, and the ambitions Spark had for the future. This was swiftly followed by a call with the CTO and Head of Customer Solutions about the expectations of the role and a call with Brendan Hennessy, who outlined the ambitions of Spark again. He also discussed the culture of Spark and that there were no illusions about the role being one that would not have a bedding-in period.
When I started, the process was so streamlined, but Spark also screamed ambition coupled with a flat structure, honesty and transparency at the heart of Spark with an agnostic mentality to boot. I was convinced quite quickly that it was a place I could fit into and thrive, so I opted for Spark above all else, and here I am one year later!
How did your role begin, and how has it evolved?
We brought one of our first customers on a value-based product journey, outlined their core ambitions from an MVP perspective and ensured there was a reference point at all times on what that product ambition should be. Since then, we have expanded the delivery function, the possibilities it can bring, and how it fits into our ambitions to become a leading data and AI solutions organisation.
In delivery, we have helped deliver several hybrids and native mobile applications. These infrastructure projects are helping transform the relevant market, procurement solutions, data first engagements, consultancy and digital transformation pieces that have driven the ambition Spark have to become leaders in our chosen field.
What kind of projects have you enjoyed working on?
I have always enjoyed helping establish a product from the initial stages of ideation, where it’s a simple concept on a whiteboard to a living, breathing, marketable product with a roadmap. We have done this with the likes of Fresco, STCKD, Content Llama, Pulse, and Aerlytix, to name among others, but the ability to help deliver a complete infrastructural revamp with some of our other partners has been very exciting too.
Working like that means we can play a part in elevating our partners' position in their respective markets to a whole other level, and this makes me proud to offer value in these areas.
In conjunction with the above, working on value-based product strategies and discovery sessions around sustainability and e-learning means we are trying to help bring products to life that make a real difference which sometimes can be hard to find.
How have you grown at Spark?
My time at Spark has allowed me to expand my understanding of the power of data and AI. I’ve also seen what a small business, with a concentrated but highly skilled team, can do in a short space of time through effective communication, transparency and clear vision.
The buy-in from every team member at Spark has made it very enjoyable and allowed us to grow at an exciting pace. For me, this has allowed me to see how a business can thrive in the right conditions and with the right people, but also being a sole proprietor of delivery for a time allowed me to learn what sales truly means, how important UX is to a business and what technology can do when applied in the right way and also the wrong way.
In terms of growth, it has purely been through exposure to all facets of the business and realising I can contribute across the board.
What’s the plan?
For me, the plan is to help keep Spark on the trajectory we’re on, contribute as much as possible, and make a positive impact. That will mean steadily growing out the delivery function of the business, maintaining processes, but ensuring there is no death by the process. I want to strive to ensure all of our team's ambitions are being met through self-improvement and gaining knowledge in new areas.
Any fun projects in the pipeline?
From a customer engagement perspective, there are lots of opportunities in the pipeline between the OS we’re helping build for a partner to the expansion of our data and AI function with very established partners whom we hope to help deliver success.
The aforementioned e-learning and sustainable opportunities would make a big difference in people’s lives and would be very meaningful.
Internally, I am always excited to be part of initiatives that would help improve the working culture at Spark and improve the well-being of our team. Internal projects are key to helping us keep ourselves ambitious, and some of our internal tooling and products could help push us to where we want to be as a business.