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Forty under 40 Award winner profile: Ken Conroy

Director of data science, Glia

BIV is proud to recognize Ken Conroy, director of data science at Glia, and 39 exceptional business leaders with 2022 Forty under 40 Awards.

Each recipient is featured in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine, and will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 22. Profiles of each award recipient – originally published in the magazine – will be available at in the days ahead.

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

Family. Dad worked so many different jobs while I was growing up, while mam raised five kids and countless grandkids. All the siblings worked from age 16 as wait staff in the local pub – the Salmon Leap.

What drives you?

Family! My daughter Éabha and my wife Doireann. I’m driven to support them for the future.

A favourite book you would recommend?

Goodnight Moon. That’s the book I’ve read the most in my life, especially in the last two years. After a hard day’s work, it’s nice to settle down and read to my baby girl.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your 40s, what goals have you set for yourself?

I’ve had my fair share of challenges with a cancer diagnosis a few years ago, so I’m grateful for every single day and take each day, and each year, as it comes.

What was your childhood career dream?

My dad was a TV technician and ran his own business, so I was always exposed to technology at some level. As technology continued to evolve, this morphed into a focus around computers, software engineering and, finally, AI.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Deciding to move to Canada from Ireland in 2014. At the time, Ireland’s tech scene was pretty good but the recession was affecting my wife’s prospects working with the neurodiverse population. We had just gotten married and had the flexibility to move so I suggested Vancouver.

What is your best habit?

Consistency. If I say I’m going to do something I always do it.

Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I dyed my hair bright red in college. This also had the direct impact of meeting my wife in a nightclub.

Best piece of advice ever received?

My sister and brother-in-law suggested I apply for computer science at university. I did, and now I’m here.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?

Finding a product-market fit for the technology you develop is key to the success of that underlying technology. Something like AI can promise the world but not deliver: Focus on a business problem and you have the code to success.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

Probably the acquisition of Finn AI. It was many years of hard work recognized, and to be acquired by a successful and rapidly growing international startup provided the validation for the team and everyone who contributed throughout the years.

What’s left to accomplish?

Professionally: Continue to implement the latest applications of AI while advocating for ethical AI implementations. Personally: I feel fortunate to have a treatable cancer, but would love to one day be in full remission.

Read the profiles of all 40 award recipients in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine. Register to recognize this year's winner at the Forty under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 22.