My Inspiration: Kathleen Hagan
Kathleen Hagan, director of Core Systems in Belfast, recalls how her father in Boston told her to ‘make a difference’, leading to her interest in game-changing technologies
I confess that I’m a bit of a technology and innovation junkie. When I clock off I enjoy meeting and reading about ‘game changers’, clever innovators and pioneers behind the disruptive technologies which usually drive economic growth.
Growing up in Boston I was encouraged by my father to try to make a difference and along the way I’ve had the benefit of mentors who inspired me to try new things and to appreciate the importance of ‘discovery’.
My aptitude was especially strong in maths and science but I attended school at a time when young girls were not encouraged to become engineers, and it was not clear what career path a young woman would have in science and technology, so it is no accident that I gravitated to becoming a ‘business technologist’ working with talented scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in helping them bring their inventions to the marketplace.
I’m inspired by technology innovation itself. The rapid advances in science and technology in recent years worldwide have enabled and stimulated interdisciplinary work on complex problems in life sciences, materials sciences, electronics, robotics, information technology and renewable energy. Also, advances in communications and internet computing have enabled global collaboration bringing “collective intelligence” to bear on big interdisciplinary problems.
As a result of this increased collaboration, we have seen the emergence of breakthrough and disruptive technologies in a wide range of sectors including bio-electronics, bio-informatics, advanced materials and nanotechnology, molecular electronics, polymer sciences, and clean energy. These important advances in a very broad range of technologies provide more and more innovative opportunities for entrepreneurs.
While scientific discovery has always been ‘awesome’, advanced applications of science and technology in the marketplace and in society are more exciting than ever before, solving important problems in a range of industries and creating new opportunities for new products and whole new industries.
Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to work with some inspirational entrepreneurs in the US and also in Northern Ireland. I am inspired by their relentless pursuit of research and development excellence, always investing in their companies’ continuous product improvement and new product development. They show that Northern Ireland can compete and succeed in the world’s biggest technology marketplace.
Going forward what is needed is more entrepreneurs willing to take a risk and more people at all levels to be inspired to follow — and take special pride in — the lead of Northern Ireland’s amazing innovators.