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Senior Tech Talk with GFT

We sat down with Simon Newton, GFT's Practice Lead for cybersecurity for the latest Senior Tech Talk as we discuss how GFT is positioning itself to leverage opportunities in the broader ecosystem.

Could you tell us a bit about GFT and your goals as an organisation?

GFT is a digital platform consultancy, and we were formed in the 1980s by a group of consultants out of Germany.

We have worked with a lot of large financial institutions over the last 20 years or so, building solutions for them as well as providing consultancy and thought leadership to both large and small to medium financial businesses. 

We have broadened out globally, and have offices in Brazil, America, Spain, Germany, and in the Middle East. 

We've also expanded from financial services to manufacturing, and a number of other sub industries as well in some areas.

And what is your role within the company?

I am the Practice Lead for cybersecurity in the UK, and I have been here for the last year or so building out a cybersecurity capability within the UK.

What are some of the key industries or sectors that GFT serves, and how do your offerings cater to their unique needs?

In the UK, we are mostly focused around large and medium financial services organisations. 

As I mentioned, globally we are active across the industry. We pride ourselves on engineering excellence, which means that we can come in and solve problems that other companies may not be able to. In the last year, we have deployed solutions in areas such as fincrime and large scale, platform security solutions which cater for our customers’ needs.

What types of projects do your teams typically work on with clients, and do you have any recent projects you’re particularly proud of?

A project that I was involved in within the last year was where we were building a bank in Eastern Europe. This was a completely cloud first digital bank, and we built and secured the cloud platform that we then ran the bank on, developed a mobile app for the customer, and essentially built and provisioned all of this work in a year.

We’re about to go live with that in the next month or so, essentially building a bank in about a year which is quite impressive. From a security point of view, that's been a really big project that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on.

Another project we’ve worked on recently that I’m very proud of was some AI work around fraud using a couple of partners for one of our larger financial customers. We rolled that out in about a year, basically looking to replace an existing fraud system using AI and ML to provide better coverage.

What emerging technologies or trends in the industry are you most excited about, and how is GFT positioning itself to leverage these opportunities?

Like everybody else at the moment I imagine, I’m going to have to mention AI. 

GFT has built out an AI marketplace, which we call AI.DA. You can find out more about that, on our website. 

This essentially provides a range of packaged solutions for customers that they can take and reuse from a security point of view. 

I'm quite excited about our partnerships, for instance, our partnership with Palo Alto Networks. We won the Prisma Cloud Partner of the Year Award towards the end of last year which was really great. And so, we are looking forward to leveraging that relationship and moving forward with them as a great partner.

Let’s discuss the GFT team. Are there any steps you take at GFT to attract and retain top tech talent?

We have been awarded the Great Place to Work award four years in a row. We have a great benefits package, compensate well, provide learning and development opportunities and provide a hybrid working policy as well.

In terms of retaining talent, we like to get our people on projects that are interesting to work on. Building digital banks is a good example of that - we do very interesting stuff here and I think that’s one of the best ways that you can ensure your talent wants to stay.

Can you share some insights into GFT's company culture and what makes it a unique place to work, particularly for tech professionals?

I think it would have to be my previous point about all of the great benefits, the learning culture we have, and we also like to promote the importance of bringing women into the tech work scene as well.

We do lots of events around this, and get involved in projects like Manchester Digital’s Digital Her which we are a supporter of, and sponsor a number of women in tech events, like Reframe Women in Tech. Equal opportunity is incredibly important to us and we encourage women wanting to get involved in initiatives like that.

Finally, how important is it to GFT to play an active role in Greater Manchester's tech community and are there ways that you contribute to the broader ecosystem?

We’re very much entrenched in Greater Manchester’s tech ecosystem. We sponsored the Greater Manchester FinTech ecosystem report in 2023. We’ve been a sponsor of the Digital City Festival for the past 3 years and Reframe Women in Tech for the past 2 years. We also feel it’s important to play a role in the wider community. We have taken part in several careers events where our team has talked to students in schools and colleges to encourage them to enter into the tech industry.  

We recently launched our Manchester security meetups, which came from an idea I had towards the end of last year, identifying that there wasn’t a regular security meetup here. Our latest event was on 17th April, where we talked about how people got into security, and had a couple of keynote speakers talking about their journey in cybersecurity.

And of course we’re committed members of Manchester Digital, and regularly attend their events such as the Digital Skills Festival and the Digital Her programme of events. 

We're really committed to building up our presence in Manchester and the North.

Thank you Simon!

Find out more about GFT here.

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