Special Edition: Disability Pride Month 2023

By Douglas McGibbon, Lead Solutions Architect, Bravura

I’m an IT veteran with almost 40 years of experience in the industry. As you’d expect for a career spanning four decades, I’ve been in many roles. These have included being a system operator, systems administrator, developer, network consultant, database administrator and systems architect, just to name a few. 

I joined Bravura 19 years ago, starting out initially as a Database Administrator in the Sonata team (made up of only six people in those days) and have had the chance to watch the product and team grow, evolve and finally emerge as it is today.

We went live with the first Sonata client 12 years ago, which was a hugely exciting time as we started seeing the solution become firmly embedded across a suite of leading firms and institutions throughout various sectors and countries.

A couple of years after that, I was tasked with building a managed services team to provide round-the-clock support for a fully-hosted Sonata solution. It takes a wide range of skills to run a system as complex as Sonata and recruiting and retaining people with those skills can prove challenging.  By opting for a fully hosted solution, that requirement is negated and it leaves our clients better able to focus on their own business. Furthermore, new Sonata clients opting for a hosted solution, gain the advantage of a well skilled and knowledgeable support team, which results in fewer ongoing issues, better performance and smoother overall running of the platform.  Since then, we’ve onboarded five other New Zealand clients onto Sonata, four of which were migrations from their legacy Talisman systems.

As technology and business processes evolved, it became clear that the cloud was the future for hosting. So, I decided to pour my interests into that area. I helped migrate our first New Zealand client from traditional hosting to a full cloud solution, which was no small feat, as it involved migrating hundreds of thousands of KiwiSaver accounts in just one weekend.

The move to the cloud was a big undertaking for the business, but it has brought many benefits to the client, including improved system resilience, infrastructure agility and architectural flexibility. I’m now the Lead Solution Architect serving Bravura’s New Zealand client base. We’re continuing to work with clients to facilitate fast and effective cloud migrations to build a flexible, agile and resilient platform that can adapt to future changes and drive ongoing efficiencies in the insurance, wealth and finance space.

Disability Pride Month

Since being established in 1990, Disability Pride Month is recognised worldwide every July and is a key awareness date in the corporate calendar.

Its main aim is to change people’s perceptions about disabilities and making them realise that disabilities come as a spectrum. With more than one billion people living with a disability globally (with one in four Kiwis also having some form of disability), this month is also about raising awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities and confronting the ableism that is so present in society, something which is extremely close to my heart.

Bravura launched its Diversity & inclusiveness (D&I) programme in 2020 and since then it’s gone from strength to strength. We’re only at the start of our journey to becoming a more open and inclusive employer but we’re making real, tangible gains and we were recently named Large Employer of the Year in FT Adviser’s Diversity in Finance Awards.

As one of Bravura’s six pillars in its D&I programme, bEnabled aims to foster awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities within Bravura. As part of the bEnabled team (which is made up of volunteers throughout the business), I work with colleagues across the globe to put this ambition into practice. This has seen us champion the wide spectrum of disabilities that there are and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone. 

The bEnabled team helps the organisation to do this by providing advice to HR, Health and Safety and the company in general, to guide policies and make conditions that are more encompassing of the challenges that employees with disabilities face and less ableist.

I’ve only been with the Disability pillar a short time but I have a real personal stake in seeing the programme succeed. My partner became disabled several years ago and, as a result, she suffers from very limited mobility. She became a spokesperson at her own company, speaking out for all people with disabilities. This was and continues to be a huge source of inspiration for me and, as her primary carer, I am committed to doing the same at Bravura but from a carer’s perspective.

This year, we’re looking to help further promote this cause by increasing the awareness of Hidden Disabilities and celebrating and supporting all our colleagues who are also carers. Whatever you do this month, I’d encourage everyone to take some time to learn more about this international awareness day to help champion people with disabilities and ultimately better support your colleagues, friends and family members.

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