Meet Matthew Fitzpatrick: Senior software engineer at Travelport Digital

In life at TDL

What is it like to work at Travelport Digital?

It's very challenging, but that is a good thing. Working as an engineer in Travelport Digital you are given ownership of problems, therefore it is up to you and your team to come up with the solutions to those problems, which is not always easy but when you nail an issue it’s very satisfying.

I really like working here, the work itself is very interesting. The people are genuine and great to work with. We do some great CSR work also such as the "Techies for Temple Street" initiative where we raised money for Temple Street Childrens Hospital (and we went the extra mile to raise even more funds by having people sponsor us to dress as the opposite sex in work one day!).

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What do you do?

Put simply, it’s coding but with an emphasis on architecture. At my level I'm expected to be able to take a problem, analyze it, come up with a solution and then deliver that solution in the form of software. I also coordinate my team and provide mentorship to junior members. I’m there to make sure that everyone stays on task, sticks to the plan and if anything that we have not thought of arises, I assess that and get the team back on track.

What advice would you have for anyone that is interested in working on your team?

My advice would be to think before you code, it's very easy to jump into a problem without really looking at the problem, and the possible solutions to that problem. Ideally, most of the work is in fact done in your head so by the time you are typing it out, the solution is architected.

What is the favourite part of your job?

I would have to say, solving problems properly and efficiently, without compromises.

What types of projects do you work on?

Primarily RESTful web services which serve as an intermediary between a mobile application and a 3rd party system (e.g. airline back ends) which has to translate between different data models, communications protocols, etc. I’ve also worked on a lot of backend systems for Travelport Digital’s product portfolio:  Travelport Concierge Live for example.

What is the best project you have ever worked on?

I think it has to be the Sabre adapter and the main reason why is that as it was a complex integration, the brief of the project was fully featured from launch and we tried out a lot of stuff architecturally that hadn’t been done before on other airline GDS adapter software. We had a great team on it that helped to develop and crystallize our flight booking server platform and I think that work has stood to us.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

We develop primarily in groovy, which is a functional language built on top of the java virtual machine. What is great about it is we don't have to be as verbose as we do when working in java, which allows us to better communicate our ideas in our code. Often, we find that when we’ve really nailed a difficult problem, the code ends up making the problem seem very simple.

What are you most proud of achieving in Travelport Digital?

Early in my career in Travelport Digital I highlighted an area of technical debt in a project which had the potential to block any further progress in developing an important feature of the software. I was able to analyse the problem, come up with a more elegant solution and that code is still there today, 3 years later which is kinda cool.

How has your role changed as the sector has grown?

Nowadays we interact directly with global distribution services and the backends of other travel software whereas previously we would have integrated with proprietary systems, which meant that with every new customer there was a new system to learn.

We are also a lot more product focused now which means we get to build on the great work we have done on previous projects.

Do you have any productivity tips?

Learn to allow yourself time to think about an issue, be ok with closing your laptop to use a notebook instead. A lot of solutions come to you in downtime,  you just never know when you are going to figure something out!

Describe your typical day in Travelport Digital

First thing I do when I come in is synch up with my team to make sure they have no blockers and if they have any questions I sort them out straight away. Then I catch up on what I have been working on the previous day to  see if I can make any further progress before our stand up meeting. We then have our daily stand up where we discuss the projects at large to see how everyone is getting on. The rest of the day is spent either working on tasks assigned to me, pairing on tasks with my team members or coordinating the individual tasks remaining on the project with my team.

Where would we find you outside of work? 

I love cycling, hiking, rock climbing (which I’m terrified of but I do it out of stubbornness) and surfing (which I’m also terrified of but I want to live my life with no regrets!).

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I also love music, especially live music and I go to as many concerts as possible. I play the guitar and the bass, my dad is a jazz guitarist and my sister has a band. Every now and then we jam together which is great craic. Music is a great escape from tech.

What steps led you to your role at Travelport Digital?

I studied computer applications in DCU and from there went on to work in a software company called WeDo Technologies. I worked there for 2.5 years initially as a junior software engineer before I was promoted to software engineer.

In March 2013 I started working in Travelport Digital as a software engineer, back when we were based in the Digital Hub. Almost a year after joining I got the opportunity to move to London with Travelport Digital to help set up the office over there. I stayed there for two years and when we had finished one of our big projects I decided to move back to Dublin, but did some travelling on my way home via Cuba and Mexico before starting back in the Dublin office where I was promoted to senior software engineer.

How different is Travelport Digital to any other company you have worked for?

Within Travelport Digital, there is a real emphasis of having ownership of problems and their solutions, other software companies can be quite prescriptive about how a problem is solved - they often have a solution already in place so you become an implementer rather than owning the journey end to end. At Travelport Digital you get to use your full breadth of skills on the projects you work on which gives you great insight as to why you are doing things and why decisions are made . That’s what really sets Travelport Digital apart from the rest.

Tell us something we may not know about from working in travel tech

A lot of what makes mobile travel apps possible was actually built quite a long time ago, people may not believe it but deep down, a lot of the software which powers an airline (and their applications) can be over 50 years old!

What is the favourite place you have been?

Cuba

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Describe Travelport Digital in 3 words

Clever
Fun
Challenging