I Am Merkle is a series of interviews that showcase the incredible individuals who make Merkle a unique and diverse place to work. This week we chatted to Garry Wallace, system architect, CoE lead, here at Merkle.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
My dad was in the Royal Air Force, so whilst I was born in Ipswich, I moved around a lot, and spent a good amount of my childhood in Germany. My parents divorced when I was 14, and I stayed with my mum and brother in a little town in Shropshire called Albrighton. I’ve moved around a little since then, but always within the county. Now with a family of my own, we’ve just bought our own forever home in Albrighton (forever for me means maybe a few years, until I get bored!)
2. What drew you to your current career?
For me, it was a desire to do as well as I could. I left University after my first year, realising that I wasn’t learning a subject that was interesting to me, but frankly also because I just wanted to get out of the education system and to start earning. I worked for a couple of years as a waiter before becoming a supervisor in Starbucks. This never felt challenging enough for me, so at 23 I jumped at the chance for an IT Apprenticeship. I was competing against 16-18 year olds, and I think the years of toiling in the hospitality industry gave me an advantage as I knew more than most of the interviewees what a ‘bad’ job was like. Long story short, I got the apprenticeship, and was placed with a team developing Pega apps for the government. I’ve never looked back.
3. Why Merkle?
I’m technically in my second stint at Merkle. I first joined Comet back in 2016 when I was looking for a chance to further my career and keep challenging myself. I learnt so much, and continued progressing, finally becoming a certified Lead System Architect in 2019. I parted on good terms in 2020 when I took a contracting role with a start-up, but I returned to Merkle as part of the Decisioning Leadership team in October 2021. Coming back was such an easy choice, as so much of the incredible working culture remains, and with a renewed vision and focus on expanding the decisioning practice, it was an opportunity I simply could not ignore.
4. What’s Pega like at Merkle?
Merkle specialises in Pega Decisioning, which is such a fascinating area to be involved in. I’d worked in case management for 5 years before joining Comet, and absolutely loved the change of pace and the more vibrant atmosphere of the decisioning and marketing world. It was a new learning curve for sure, but I think my Pega background gave me such a great head-start. I meet so many people who worry that they can’t get into decisioning because their background is only in case management, but I’m living proof that not only is it possible, but the transition isn’t overly daunting, and dare I say, it’s really quite fun.
5. What do you enjoy most about decisioning and what do you think future developments will be?
I love the variety. Every client has their own unique way of doing things, and it’s such a great challenge translating that into Pega. As Pega continues to improve and revolutionise the way companies interact with their customers, there will no doubt be a continual fine tuning of the tool, and continued integration and support for other applications and toolsets. This keeps things fresh, as there is always something new to learn in order to deliver the absolute best outcome for our clients.
6. What would your advice be to somebody considering a career in your team?
Reach out! We have such a great and diverse team already, but are always accepting of new thoughts and points of view. A Pega background, or a marketing background with another tool will give you such a great footing. Merkle really do look after their people as well, and there are so many exciting opportunities with the clients we have already, and those we will no doubt partner up with as we look to provide decisioning excellence throughout the EMEA region.
7. What is your greatest accomplishment?
I’d have to say being a father. It’s such a huge responsibility, and one that I enjoy immensely. I love every second I get to spend with my wonderful children, who I’m so proud of.
8. Tell us a bit about your experience so far with Merkle.
Genuinely it’s been great. I’ve worked throughout the UK with different clients which always keeps things fresh and interesting, and I’m writing this now from the office in Barcelona. I’ve made great friends, visited interesting new places, and I can provide a life for my family that I only dreamed of growing up.
9. What inspires you about Merkle’s workplace culture?
The main thing that inspires me is that it’s not just hyperbole. Most places aspire to have the workplace culture that Merkle does. It doesn’t matter which office you go to – whether I’ve been in Edinburgh, London or Barcelona, it is always brilliant!
10. What was your dream job growing up?
Probably to be a football manager (I don’t know what it says about me that at a young age I was already looking forward to hanging up my boots!). I’m getting a crack at it now, as I manage my son’s football team. Judging on my performance so far, I probably made the right choice getting into IT.
11. How do you like your eggs?
Fried eggs win all day long.
12. What are you currently watching on Netflix/Prime?
I probably watch tv far more than I should, and I’m currently working my way the the Office (US version) for the second time on Netflix, and I’m also enjoying Vikings on Prime. Can’t wait for new seasons of The Boys, Umbrella Academy and Stranger things though!
13. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m in my 30’s and still a fan of pro wrestling. I know a painfully embarrassing amount about it. Don’t judge me
14. What is your dream holiday destination?
Honestly, my ‘dream’ holiday destination changes with the wind. Currently I’d pick either Hawaii or New Zealand. But by next week, it will almost certainly be something else.
15. Best advice or mantra you live by?
I like to keep things simple, so my mantra is “just be nice”. It removes so much of the complication from life, and it’s rarely let me down over the years.