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Kevin Gavaghan headshot
Kevin Gavaghan headshot

Kevin Gavaghan

Head of Global People Systems, HR Systems Team

How long have you been at A&O and what were you doing prior to joining us?

I have been at A&O for just over 6 years.  Immediately before joining I worked at a Japanese investment bank where I was responsible for managing the delivery and infrastructure of the PeopleSoft HR system.  Prior to that I had spent 18 years working on PeopleSoft systems for consultancies and as a freelance consultant.

What initially attracted you to A&O and what did you feel set us apart?

I had worked at A&O on a short-term contract in 2007 and I really liked the people.  They were friendly and supportive and it was fun.  When the opportunity arose to re-join A&O, I knew the team Head from a prior role and welcomed the opportunity to work with him again.  The team had some interesting and challenging projects on the roadmap and I had the sense that A&O would be somewhere that would support my growth and development.

How do you feel A&O has changed since you joined (the impact of this one will likely depend on when you joined us!)

There has certainly been an increased focus on technology and data over the past 6 years, with the firm recognising the important role technology will play in supporting the lawyers of the future.  As someone who has worked their whole career in technology I am excited about the increased prominence of technology in the workplace.

In terms of change, I can’t ignore the impact that Covid has had over the last 2.5 years.  Whilst I welcome the opportunity to work more flexibly, I am keen that we do not lose the sense of fun and belonging that I identify with working at A&O.

What was your first ever job? Was working in the legal sector always your ultimate goal?

My first job was as a barman in our village pub, where I loved the interaction with the customers.  My first permanent job was working as a graduate for IBM on their personnel systems.  To be honest I didn’t have a goal to work in any particular sector but the majority of my work pre-A&O was with financial services clients.

We are proud at A&O to offer an environment where people can be themselves … What gives you a sense of “belonging” at A&O?

I think it is the everyday things that we may take for granted but which I have not always found at other places I have worked. It is the friendliness and approachability of colleagues, a sense that people genuinely care about me and my development and the support I have received during times when I have struggled. Having grown up in Northern Ireland I also appreciate the opportunity to work with and visit the Belfast office.

What’s the best thing about the team you work in?

I would say the experience and expertise of the team.  Whilst being a relatively small HR Systems team, the expertise within the team allows us to deliver innovative solutions that make a difference and help others to work more efficiently

What three things have enabled you to excel during your time at A&O?

I have benefitted from having interesting and innovative projects to work on, a great team to work with and very supportive managers who have believed in me, opened up opportunities for me and helped me to progress.

Which networks, extra-curricular activities, and/or pro bono and community investment initiatives have you become involved with since joining A&O (such as DE&I/sports teams/music etc.)? What have you valued most about these opportunities?

I have been involved as a mentor in A&O’s Restart programme in 4 of the past 5 years.  This is an excellent programme, providing employability support to help people over 50 return to work. The programme particularly appeals to me as the participants are not much older than myself and I recognise that my career has benefitted from luck and opportunity as well as application and ability.  If I can use my experiences to provide some assistance to those who have maybe not been as fortunate as I have, then I think it is very worthwhile.  It also has helped me to develop skills and experience that I can use to better support my team.

If you could spend some time in any of A&O’s international offices, where would you most like to go and why?

It would have to be somewhere that I have not yet visited.  Given Japan’s reputation for advanced technology, then I would say Tokyo.  Experiencing the different culture, the energy and vibrancy of the city and the beauty of the surrounding countryside would make for a memorable trip.  I have also heard a lot about the cherry blossom festival so a spring visit would be ideal

If you could switch roles with anyone else at A&O, whose job would you want and why?

This is a tricky one.  If I wasn’t working in HR Systems, I would like to do something altogether different.  I’ve always enjoyed cooking, which was plan B for my career, so maybe a role in the catering teams.

What advice would you give to anyone considering joining A&O?

A&O is a place where you get to work with and learn from people of the highest calibre, who genuinely care about your development.  It is forward-looking and embraces technical advances.  There are certainly high expectations that come with working at A&O, but it provides greater opportunities to develop and progress than I have experienced at the majority of places I have worked.  You will be supported through your career with the firm, especially during times when you might struggle.

 

How long have you been at A&O and what were you doing prior to joining us?

I have been at A&O for just over 6 years.  Immediately before joining I worked at a Japanese investment bank where I was responsible for managing the delivery and infrastructure of the PeopleSoft HR system.  Prior to that I had spent 18 years working on PeopleSoft systems for consultancies and as a freelance consultant.

What initially attracted you to A&O and what did you feel set us apart?

I had worked at A&O on a short-term contract in 2007 and I really liked the people.  They were friendly and supportive and it was fun.  When the opportunity arose to re-join A&O, I knew the team Head from a prior role and welcomed the opportunity to work with him again.  The team had some interesting and challenging projects on the roadmap and I had the sense that A&O would be somewhere that would support my growth and development.

How do you feel A&O has changed since you joined (the impact of this one will likely depend on when you joined us!)

There has certainly been an increased focus on technology and data over the past 6 years, with the firm recognising the important role technology will play in supporting the lawyers of the future.  As someone who has worked their whole career in technology I am excited about the increased prominence of technology in the workplace.

In terms of change, I can’t ignore the impact that Covid has had over the last 2.5 years.  Whilst I welcome the opportunity to work more flexibly, I am keen that we do not lose the sense of fun and belonging that I identify with working at A&O.

What was your first ever job? Was working in the legal sector always your ultimate goal?

My first job was as a barman in our village pub, where I loved the interaction with the customers.  My first permanent job was working as a graduate for IBM on their personnel systems.  To be honest I didn’t have a goal to work in any particular sector but the majority of my work pre-A&O was with financial services clients.

We are proud at A&O to offer an environment where people can be themselves … What gives you a sense of “belonging” at A&O?

I think it is the everyday things that we may take for granted but which I have not always found at other places I have worked. It is the friendliness and approachability of colleagues, a sense that people genuinely care about me and my development and the support I have received during times when I have struggled. Having grown up in Northern Ireland I also appreciate the opportunity to work with and visit the Belfast office.

What’s the best thing about the team you work in?

I would say the experience and expertise of the team.  Whilst being a relatively small HR Systems team, the expertise within the team allows us to deliver innovative solutions that make a difference and help others to work more efficiently

What three things have enabled you to excel during your time at A&O?

I have benefitted from having interesting and innovative projects to work on, a great team to work with and very supportive managers who have believed in me, opened up opportunities for me and helped me to progress.

Which networks, extra-curricular activities, and/or pro bono and community investment initiatives have you become involved with since joining A&O (such as DE&I/sports teams/music etc.)? What have you valued most about these opportunities?

I have been involved as a mentor in A&O’s Restart programme in 4 of the past 5 years.  This is an excellent programme, providing employability support to help people over 50 return to work. The programme particularly appeals to me as the participants are not much older than myself and I recognise that my career has benefitted from luck and opportunity as well as application and ability.  If I can use my experiences to provide some assistance to those who have maybe not been as fortunate as I have, then I think it is very worthwhile.  It also has helped me to develop skills and experience that I can use to better support my team.

If you could spend some time in any of A&O’s international offices, where would you most like to go and why?

It would have to be somewhere that I have not yet visited.  Given Japan’s reputation for advanced technology, then I would say Tokyo.  Experiencing the different culture, the energy and vibrancy of the city and the beauty of the surrounding countryside would make for a memorable trip.  I have also heard a lot about the cherry blossom festival so a spring visit would be ideal

If you could switch roles with anyone else at A&O, whose job would you want and why?

This is a tricky one.  If I wasn’t working in HR Systems, I would like to do something altogether different.  I’ve always enjoyed cooking, which was plan B for my career, so maybe a role in the catering teams.

What advice would you give to anyone considering joining A&O?

A&O is a place where you get to work with and learn from people of the highest calibre, who genuinely care about your development.  It is forward-looking and embraces technical advances.  There are certainly high expectations that come with working at A&O, but it provides greater opportunities to develop and progress than I have experienced at the majority of places I have worked.  You will be supported through your career with the firm, especially during times when you might struggle.