Catapult is a global leader in sports technology that has recently been named number 5 in the sports category for Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies 2020.”
We interviewed Senior Software Engineer, Chris McCormick about his career progression at the Australian company and how they are trying to develop sports performance technologies that are available to all athletes.
What is your career background?
I started my career in the insurance software industry in Dublin. I then decided to move home to Dundalk for a Game Developer role with a new start-up. It was after that I started with PLAYERTEK as a Software Developer working on their flagship offering. PLAYERTEK was then acquired by Catapult in 2016.
This acquisition opened up new career paths for the team and I. I progressed to Senior Software Engineer and my current role is Lead Software Engineer for the PLAYR Smartcoach team. PLAYR builds on the scientific and technological expertise that has been used by elite teams for the last 10 years and makes it available to the consumer football market.
What initially attracted you to Catapult?
I originally started with PLAYERTEK, before we were acquired by Catapult. What attracted me to PLAYERTEK was that it was a sports software company working on cutting edge technologies along with being founded in my hometown. It was a natural fit for me.
What’s the culture like within the organisation tin Dundalk?
It is quite a laid back and trusting office. There is a great atmosphere and team culture. You’re always encouraged to speak your mind and bring new, innovative ideas to the table.
Typically, we work 9 – 5.30pm, but it’s a very flexible environment. If you need to work from home or take time out of the day for appointments, it’s never an issue.
Fitness and Sports Technology is constantly evolving and there are lots of players in the wearable tech market at the moment – how does Catapult ensure it stays on top of its game?
We work with thousands of top tier elite teams from Real Madrid to Tottenham Hotspur and most of the NFL teams. As these teams and their technology requirements evolve, we grow our product offerings to match. We then leverage this domain knowledge to help direct our sub-elite and consumer products, ensuring we are always at the forefront of the market, both professional and amateur.
What are some of the innovative technologies you get to work on? What does your day to day look like?
Currently I’m working across the stack on the PLAYR SmartCoach consumer product. This has exposed me to technologies and frameworks including: iOS and Android (react-native, swift and Java), the APIs (PHP, Node.js), the DBs (Mysql and DynamoDB) and DevOps (AWS, IBM Softlayer).
We work on the core principles of the agile methodology, so my workday starts with a 15 minute stand-up in the morning, followed by developing across the stack on the current sprint’s priority. This ensures we are delivering on the most critical needs of our clients first.
What are the trends in sports tech you anticipate for 2020?
I think there will be both rising awareness and demand for sports technology among amateur athletes, not just elite teams. We see no reason why sports technology should be limited just to larger teams with deep pockets.
Our mission is to provide affordable sports technology to athletes of all levels, whether you are pro, play for a local team or are part of a Monday night five-a-side league with your colleagues. We want to help players worldwide improve their performance by giving them access to these products.
Do you feel Catapult is making an impact on the sports industry? How?
Absolutely, we have had many teams report improved athlete performance, recovery and commitment after they started using our products.
Would we be familiar with any teams that use Catapult technologies?
If you’re familiar with football teams like Bayern Munich and Chelsea, these are just some examples of our 3000+ clients. If we’re talking about local teams, a large number of GAA county teams across football and hurling use Catapult’s Playertek Plus.
Catapult now has offices across 30 locations worldwide, is there much travel and flexibility associated with your role?
There are certainly opportunities to travel and work in any of our offices worldwide. In the Dundalk office, we recently had a person move over to us from the Boston branch, and we’ve also had a Dundalk local move over to the Melbourne office. Working with such a global company means there is huge potential to gain international experience.
My role doesn’t require me to travel regularly, but we aim to have a monthly manager meetup in Leeds. If you can not make it, or you’re averse to travel, you’re able to call in remotely instead.
One of Catapult’s values is to be ambitious. How does the company ensure people are given the opportunity to reach their goals and grow within the organisation?
Catapult is growing at a fast pace with new roles opening for both internal and external applicants. This rate of expansion means there is huge potential for career progression. To use myself as an example, so far, I have had three different roles during my career at Catapult with more opportunities down the line.
Chris is a Senior Software Engineer who has worked with Catapult and PLAYERTEK since 2014.