Allstate NI names new man to lead employees, technology and operations

Dr Stephen McKeown has been appointed as Allstate NI vice president and managing director. Picture: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north's largest technology employer Allstate has appointed Dr Stephen McKeown to head up its local operations.

A career technologist with more than 20 years of data and analytics experience, he succeeds John Healy, who stood down in December after more than six years at Allstate, which has more than 2,000 employees in Northern Ireland.

In his new role as vice-president and managing director, Dr McKeown will lead the firm's employees, technology and operations and will play a critical role in its digital transformation, as well as being the company's interface with business, government, education and wider society in the north.

He joined Allstate in 2018 and was its first chief information officer (CIO) appointed outside North America. He was most recently divisional CIO and director of data and intelligent systems at Allstate Enterprise Solutions.

Dr McKeown led the transformation of Allstate NI’s analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence functions, and he has also held positions including director of data science and real-time insights and director of the AI Centre of Excellence.

As a member of the Allstate NI executive committee, he led the company’s review of its early careers and talent development strategy.

A graduate of Queen's University, also led inclusive diversity initiatives that resulted in recognition by organisations including Diversity Mark NI.

Dr McKeown - who has held senior tech positions in Belfast and Dublin - is a founder of the Big Data Belfast technology conference.

He is a European Commission industry expert for the €80B Horizon and Eurostars innovation programmes and he has also held advisory roles to the Northern Ireland Government Digital ICT Strategy Group and UK Technology Strategy Board.

His appointment, which was ratified during a visit to Belfast by Allstate Enterprise Solutions president Suren Gupta, comes after a shaky few months for the Chicago-headquartered insurance giant's Northern Ireland operations.

In January Allstate NI confirmed that it will vacate its 30,000 sq ft workspace in Strabane when the current lease on its building expires in May (it has had a presence in the town for 15 years).

Then last month more than 20 members of the Allstate NI finance team in Belfast were told they were being made redundant and their jobs were being transferred to India, which the company said was “part of a transformation to give customers the best experience at the lowest price.”

Dr McKeown said: “Allstate NI is at the forefront of that change, and I'm thrilled to become vice-president and managing director at the company where, since 2018, I have had the opportunity to ensure our digital capabilities deliver on our enterprise strategy.”

Suren Gupta said: “For nearly 25 years, Allstate NI has helped drive our strategy, growth and innovation, and has become Northern Ireland’s largest technology employer.

“It will continue to be instrumental in Allstate’s digital transformation as we help protect customers with affordable, simple and connected products and services.

“With Stephen’s great track record as a business leader and technologist, he is well positioned to lead Allstate NI and bring his global leadership skills to Allstate.”