Software Alliance Strengthens Leadership With Four New Industry Voices

The Software Alliance has this month strengthened our leadership team with the appointment of four new individuals to our Board. Now with 12 members, we believe the added expertise of Mark McCormack, Laura McClean, Jim Bannon and Jo Ferguson will strengthen our ability to represent the interests of all members as we lobby and support policy development.

We offer a warm welcome to each one and are happy to tell you more about their background here.

Jo Ferguson, Director of Belfast Business Operations at CME Group

Jo Ferguson is CME Group’s Director of Business Operations for the Belfast Office, which has over 350 employees. One of the first CME Group employees in Belfast, she joined the company in 2012 after seven years at Citi Belfast where she specialised in compliance and technology programme management.

With responsibility for CME Group’s Early Career Programme, Jo sits on the Employer Advisory Boards for both Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast’s Computing Schools, the Professional and Financial Services Forum, and is an active speaker in multiple STEM school’s initiatives and employability mentoring. At CME Group, Jo represents the Belfast office in its partnerships with government, academia, and local industry.

Mark McCormack, Vice President and Managing Director, Aflac Northern Ireland

Mark McCormack is VP and Managing Director for Aflac Northern Ireland: Aflac’s Centre for Advanced Technology located in Belfast, which comprises of 150 IT and Cybersecurity professionals. Mark joined Aflac in July 2019 as Head of Technology where he was responsible for building technology teams across a number of key business areas. With over 25 years’ technology experience, Mark brings a strong focus on delivering innovative capability to support operations for Aflac in the United States.

Previously Mark was Senior Vice President at Citi, holding several positions during his 11-year tenure with the bank. This culminated in leading the Chief Technology Office (CTO) for Citi in Belfast. Mark was also the Global Head of Data Operations for CTO, leading a team of 100 people based in seven different countries that are responsible for supporting and managing the data flowing into Citi’s Enterprise Data platforms, as well as critical Risk and Compliance systems. Mark began his career as a Software Development Team Leader and Software Developer for B.I.C. Systems, a local technology firm.

Laura McClean, Director of Synechron Northern Ireland & UK DEI Lead

Laura McClean is Synechron’s Head of Northern Ireland which has 40+ employees and is seeing rapid growth with projections of around 100 employees by the end of this calendar year. A global fintech consultancy which serves Tier 1 banks and global insurance companies, Synechron first came to Belfast last year, when Laura joined with the commitment to develop, grow, and expand their NI business. One of Laura’s primary goals is to ensure Belfast is known as one of Synechron’s main delivery centres for technology, with specific capabilities in AI, Data, Cloud & DevOps, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, and Engineering.

Laura is extremely passionate about DEI and has taken the lead position of DEI for the UK region of the business. Laura also sits on the Employee Advisory Board for Ulster University and is an active member of the NI tech community, having her own meet up for leaders across the local tech industry.

Jim Bannon, Engineering Director, Product Technology, Allstate Northern Ireland

Jim Bannon is Director of Software Engineering for Allstate’s core Insurance Policy Administration platform. Jim leads a global team of over 300 engineers consisting of 30 product teams based across three shores. His remit is focused on a large Java technology platform, providing services for the key customer journeys for a broad range of Allstate’s insurance solutions within a high-volume sales & service environment. Based out of the Belfast office, Jim leads global teams operating across the US, NI and India.

With over 30 years of technology experience and 20 years with Allstate, Jim is still excited by the challenges that technology offers each and every day. He currently leads the Allstate NI Government and Business engagement team, acts as a mentor on the Protégé program and previously sat on the University of Ulster Advisory board. He has a BSc in Computer Science from Queens and MSc in Information Technology from UUJ.