‘We’re helping business adapt and operate in a world of remote everything’

2 Jun 2020

Patrick Horgan. Image: Darragh Kane

Horizon8’s Patrick Horgan discusses the recent acceleration of digital transformation in fintech and how he has adjusted to working from home.

Patrick Horgan is managing director of Horizon8 in Europe. The technology solutions firm, which provides development and consulting services, opened its European base in Cork last year.

Horgan is an experienced leader in the investment management and professional services industries. He was previously head of technology projects with Aspect Capital and was a financial services consultant with Accenture. He holds a BSc in computer science from University College Cork.

‘We have seen a significant shift over the past couple of months with people having to change their daily routines’

Describe your role and what you do.

I am the managing director for Horizon8 in Europe, responsible for all aspects of growing the business and overseeing operations. This includes the development and execution of our strategy, client satisfaction and relationship management, R&D oversight to grow service offerings and product lines, marketing and, of course, revenue generation.

Alongside this, there is always the focus on building and growing the team, working together to nurture the culture, creating an environment where we are excited to come to work and bring the best out of each other. My view is investing in the team and culture first and foremost is fundamental to delivering client service excellence and creating innovative products and solutions.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

This is one big juggling act but includes three vital things to keep all the balls in the air: my to-do list, calendar and coffee. I live by my calendar, which is driven off my to-do list, both of which are updated multiple times throughout the day. I try to allow for contingency time in between meetings for note taking, follow-up items and fresh mugs of coffee.

Most days include conference calls, using Microsoft Teams or Zoom, to colleagues in Asia, Europe and North America, so there is a global reach covering those time zones across the day.

Working from home over the past couple of months has been an interesting adjustment, but with no travel it has allowed for more quality time at home. Our four kids and dog don’t quite understand why dad can’t play with them throughout the day, but they’re a welcome distraction in between the odd meeting – that’s if they haven’t already walked in on the call in the first place! 

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

We have seen a significant shift over the past couple of months with people having to change their daily routines. Operating predominantly in the fintech space, it has been interesting to observe the acceleration in digital transformation out of necessity.

In particular, with some financial services sectors and businesses who have traditionally been conservative with the pace at which they roll out digital change programmes, there is more of an appetite to leverage technology, especially in business functions that have historically had a reliance on manual and paper-based processes.

We are working alongside businesses to help them adapt and operate in a world of remote everything. There is an enormous amount of options available to businesses, which can be overwhelming, so we like to demystify and offer guidance and solutions in their digital transformation journeys.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

In addition to our professional services arm, the two key solution areas that we are focusing on are in financial crime management and digital assets.

We offer a financial crime management product suite, which includes digital identity KYC [know your customer] onboarding, AML [anti-money laundering] and real-time transaction monitoring and anti-fraud capabilities. There is now an even greater need and desire to onboard corporate and retail customers in digital form whilst reducing lead times and manual overhead. Anti-fraud solutions have also come under the spotlight due to the notable increase in fraudulent activity over the past number of weeks and months.

Digital assets, in contrast to the financial crime management solutions space, is more of an emerging market and we are responding to the growing interest in that space right now. A number of firms are keen to explore how to represent ownership of assets in digital form in order to create new markets for previously illiquid assets whilst at the same time significantly improving efficiencies and reducing costs. Moving into this space is a natural evolution for us given our experience in delivering blockchain-based solutions for clients over the past number of years.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

There was no master plan as such, but I’ve been very fortunate with the support of family, friends and mentors throughout my life. I think a good work ethic, an appetite to learn, along with backing myself, has stood me in good stead over the years.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

There have been plenty of mistakes along the way but there isn’t one that particularly stands out as the biggest. The continuous improvement or kaizen approach is something I really subscribe to – I think it’s very powerful as a team to periodically reflect and identify lessons learned, how to make improvements whilst also celebrating the wins.

How do you get the best out of your team?

This is something I feel very passionate about and we are fortunate to have a very talented team. My approach is to engage with the team as peers, making myself available to help, knowing when to get out of the way, leading by example and encouraging a culture and environment where everyone can contribute and make decisions.

This gives people the space to think for themselves and take ownership of what they do. Offering staff input into the future path of the company really promotes employee engagement. My leadership style is to encourage opinions, ideas and moonshot thinking, to ensure the team can participate in shaping the future direction and success of the business.

A professional man and woman are standing outside in front of the river in Cork, smiling into the camera.

Patrick Horgan with Karym Murphy, head of global business at Horizon8. Image: Darragh Kane

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Lack of diversity in the technology and financial services sectors is clearly a problem and, while well-acknowledged, it would be great to see even more tangible evidence of work being done to bring about change on an industry-wide level.

I feel proud that our managing director in North America, also responsible for global operations, is a woman. Karym Murphy is an exceptional leader and mentor whose opinion I really value. At Horizon8, we have a great opportunity to create a truly diverse environment as we are building out the team at our European headquarters. We are very conscious of avoiding groupthink, and strongly believe a diverse team with different perspectives makes for better outcomes.

With regard to inclusion, to me it is all about acknowledging that bringing people together and valuing the input of all employees is fundamental.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I would say my parents taught me a great work ethic, and more importantly how to connect with and treat people well. Then in school, there were two coaches in particular who really left their mark in shaping me at such an impressionable age. Looking back, they were way ahead of their time in fostering a growth mindset and introducing a professional environment to kids.

In my time at Aspect Capital, I can think of a couple of mentors who certainly influenced my development and leadership style, making me appreciate the value of culture and how to bring out the best in people.

Today, the senior executive team at Horizon8 have a wealth of experience and are very generous with their time. I’m very fortunate to work alongside and learn from them.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

From a business perspective, a book that resonated with me is Turn the Ship Around by L David Marquet. It’s a real-life story with lessons of how to create leaders at every level of your organisation, with Marquet having transformed one of the worst performing submarines in the US Navy.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Keeping abreast of relevant industry and global news through a number of technology and financial services subscriptions. To facilitate the current working-from-home dynamic, tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom are proving incredibly helpful.

To unwind, time with family in the evenings and weekends is very important to me. Our barbecue has certainly proved an essential tool in bringing us all together to unwind and connect in the current environment, playing its part in getting us through the week!

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