Jack Stenson

Originally from Salthill in Galway, Jack completed a B.A. in Economics and I.T. (2005-2008) followed by a Master’s in Business in Corporate Strategy (2009) at NUI Galway. While at NUI Galway Jack was also the coach of the swim team as well as chairman of FilmSoc (where, in 2007, he won Best Individual at the NUI Galway Society awards and the society won Best Society at the national BICS awards).

 After a year of working in Sydney, Australia and backpacking around New Zealand, Asia and 34 States of America Jack joined the graduate program of Accenture strategy consulting in Dublin in 2011. For two years he worked on projects to modernise the pillar banks and help them become more digitally savvy. For three years after this he worked at the major media companies in London, where he designed new innovative practices and services.

During his five years in consulting Jack learnt what inspired him - the potential for technology to drive positive disruption, and to be the catalyst for progress. In 2014 he co-founded ParkShark with another alumnus of NUI Galway, Gareth Walsh. The app enabled people to monetise their parking spaces when idle by tagging the GPS coordinates and commuters to book them. Experience at ParkShark eventually led Jack to be hired by Sparks Grove, the digital innovation wing of North Highland Consulting, where Jack led the crafting of digital products and services to reinvent customer and employee experiences.

He moved with them to New York at the end of 2017 to continue this work with national US banks, media giants and government clients. In mid-2018 Jack wanted to challenge his team to show the art of the possible at a series of innovation conferences the firm was hosting in London, New York and Atlanta. In the run-up to the US elections mis-information was rearing its head again as one of the greatest challenges of our era, so Jack’s team built an AI solution – “The No Fake-News, Fake Newsroom”. This consisted of a news anchor desk with a microphone where conference attendees would be fact-checked in real-time. Jack was interviewed by, and the experiment was featured in The Wall Street Journal so he knew he had to realise its potential. Over the next few months Jack worked with 80 of the finest minds in news, including an Emmy-winning news director, a national TV anchor, editors-in-chief, Chief Product and Technology Officers, and an ex-CEO of a global broadcaster. The goal was to identify how value could be created and what other problems could be solved.

A startup called Voyc was born – a voice and context scanning AI. In its initial form Voyc will scan publicly broadcast political and corporate content and alert reporters and financial analysts of breaking news in real-time and do live-news fact-checking. Voyc has since been asked by a national US network to work with their teams to create content for the 2020 elections, and by a social media network to do a trial of the service. The goal of Voyc is to have a breakout year covering politics during the US elections and then expand the insights it provides to financial markets and brand monitoring. As a platform that will be ‘for-profit’ but also ‘for-good’ it’s right at the intersection of what inspires Jack. This year, Voyc was named an honouree at Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards and Jack was named one of Irish Echo’s Top 40 Under 40 Irish in America. Jack also does pro-bono consulting for startups and is on the board of Digital Irish, a New York-based organisation that hosts panels and talks with industry leaders.

In his personal life Jack lives with his husband Stefaan Verbruggen of Oughterard Co. Galway, who did an undergraduate degree and PhD in biomedical engineering at NUI Galway. They met in first year at NUI Galway and, on their 10th anniversary were the first couple to get married in the Aula Maxima, as well as the first same-sex wedding held on campus in July 2016. After winning a Marie Curie Fellowship, Stefaan is conducting cutting edge cancer research at Columbia University in New York. His dedication to researching medical solutions for the common good is what motivates Jack most in life.

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