Gareth Quinn is the brain and soul behind Digital DNA, the world's most forward thinking gathering in technology.
Q: How did Digital DNA start? Talk to us about its evolution from an idea to world-class meeting of tech minds!
A: Digital DNA is the coming together of my past experiences, successes, frustrations and passions. I started studying IT in university in 1999 and after graduating a few random events took the early years of my career down what appeared to be a strange and uncharacteristic route.
I worked in the electoral commission getting hands on experience of running events, more specifically the political elections in Northern Ireland during a turbulent time. Then I moved to work with the Lord Mayor’s of Belfast where I gained an insight into the importance of civic duties and the impact that this can have on communities, cities and countries.
These experiences and various others came to the fore in a Belfast bar over a pint or two of Guinness when through a discussion with a good friend who held a senior position in a global tech company, we realized the potential to create an event that harnessed our unique Irish hospitality to provide an informal and energized platform for our high calibre international delegates from business and tech to connect and build valuable relationships.
Q: What is your story, Gareth?
A: I grew up in a very rural area of Northern Ireland at the foot of the majestic Mourne Mountains. Although I was never very academically minded when I was younger I was fortunate to have two very hard working parents who had me working summer jobs from when I was 13. These jobs acted to help me understand the importance of money and also the discipline needed to be successful in employment.
"Technology can never replace that fundamental human face-to-face interaction"
Throughout my education, I had the ability to do as little as possible but enough to have me scrap through to the next stage of my schooling. My scrape through skills unravelled in the first year when I failed my exams during my first year of university, having to drop to a lesser course before going on and completing my initial course after 5 years (instead of the three that it should have taken). Having had this wake-up call I understood the effort needed to learn and the importance of education as I went on and completed an MBA in 2010.
Through my various initial job assignments, I learned a lot about other business skills; communication skills, decision making, relationship building, identifying key influencers and understanding motives. With these skills, I have been able to grow the team at Digital DNA into something that delivers globally.
Q: What have you learned in this process?
A: I have been very fortunate to have many extremely varied and extensive experiences which have allowed me to learn a lot in a relatively short space of time. I have realised that having the theoretical knowledge to create, run and grow a business is helpful, but creativity, opportunity and success ultimately come from having effective leadership skills with an ability to communicate and deliver to different individuals and groups depending on their specific desires and motives.
Q: Share with us a story of a person or a company that has impressed you!
A: Northern Ireland, for being such a small place, has continually punched about its weight on the global scale. Over the past century, Northern Ireland has continued to have a close relationship with innovation with inventions ranging from the defibrillator to the ejector seat coming from our shores. More recently we have seen many medical, cyber, data and fin-tech companies competing and succeeding on a global stage.
One of the most exciting companies coming out of Northern Ireland that really impresses me is beezer.io which is working with many global sports organisations to harness their existing events to build and communicate more effectively with their communities.
Q: What are some important outcomes when people meet and exchange ideas?
A: The potential to create something that otherwise couldn’t be done without the exchange of ideas. Technology is fantastic and we wouldn’t be here as a business if we couldn’t utilise its many advantages, however, it can never replace that fundamental human face-to-face interaction. These outcomes are more than just a name in a back book; through what we have done we have been the catalyst for the spark of business relationships and the completion of deals between client and supplier. Digital DNA continues to be instrumental in the creation of new networks of people working together to help each other succeed.
Q: What is your vision for Digital DNA?
A: To become a global digital community where we bring people together digitally and in person to learn, share their knowledge and support those who need guidance in achieving the personal or professional goals. We will do this through our content and events and give people the opportunity to do business differently in an environment that’s built to build relationships.
Q: What's this year's focus?
A: Internationalising our offering even further. We will build Digital DNA into the go-to business and technology event and this year has really set the bar for us in terms of where we can go and what we can achieve.
Q: Belfast: what's your city like in 2017? Share with us some of your favourite things when in Belfast!
A: Belfast has been through it. We’ve been globally recognised as both a war zone and a place where peace and agreement can take place. We’re not through it yet and there are a number of legacy issues which still remain. With that being said though, we’re at a place now where Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole, is becoming more well known for its hospitality, globally achieving businesses and foreign investment from companies across the world. We have a talented and knowledgeable workforce that is ready to deliver and a capital city that is full of culture and heritage with world famous food & drink which both locals and visitors can enjoy.
Founder & Managing Director, Digital DNA
Gareth Quinn has over ten years’ experience of operational management and strategy development at a senior level within very complex, sensitive and continually changing environments. He has a well-documented track record for successfully delivering complicated and large projects, programs and initiatives for a range of organisations.
His proven history of gaining successful results in very challenging and pressurized businesses and organisations and his understanding and vision of the challenges facing these organisations has resulted in him being involved at the heart of operational and strategic transformation.
Gareth has a sound academic base having achieved a BSc Honours in Computing and Information Systems in 2005 and having finished top of his class in 2010 when he was able to complete a three year Masters in Business Administration (MBA in two years. Through his work with the MBA Association, he works with many University Business Schools across the island of Ireland on their respective MBA programs.
He has worked with many businesses and private sector organisations on a range of issues including strategic and operational management, strategic and business planning, HR management, sales and marketing and access to finance. In February 2013 he set up ‘Katoja Business Development’ which has enabled him to fully utilize his skills and experience to work to improve businesses and public sector organisations of varying size on a range of issues.
He has worked with a range of clients over the past number of years on matters including:
- Strategic and Business Planning
- Access to new clients/markets
- Organisational Design/Transformation
- Access to finance (investment, funding, etc)
- Operation and process transformation
- Design and implementation of sales strategies
- Recruitment and selection processes
- Development of export strategies