Showing leadership

6 Mar 2012

Martin Murphy, managing director, HP Ireland

The successive stream of investments by HP in Ireland is testament to the ability of Irish workforces to constantly deliver, especially in the area of R&D, says HP’s managing director in Ireland Martin Murphy.

The afternoon I speak to Martin Murphy, managing director of HP in Ireland, is a very auspicious one for Ireland. Not only is it an afternoon that has seen HP announce 280 new jobs, but other major jobs announcements are afoot. They include 325 jobs at Abbot Laboratories in Sligo and 30 software engineering jobs at Big Fish Games in Cork.

The new jobs generated by HP are on top of 4,000 existing jobs. The new roles, divided between west Dublin and Galway, will consist of 150 R&D roles and 130 technical and support roles.

What is interesting about the new jobs is the kind of statement it makes. From the moment the economic downturn hit the world, and when it hit Ireland, in particular, with a property and banking collapse that sent unemployment spiralling, you get the sense Murphy and his fellow management at HP got straight to work trying to win investment into the country.

HP and jobs in Ireland

In the last three years, HP in Ireland has been successful in attracting more than 1,000 new jobs to the country. The creation of the Global Services Desk in March 2009 generated 500 jobs, and the expansion of the company’s Galway operation in 2010, with the creation of 50 jobs. In addition, the company announced 120 jobs at its Dublin operations in September 2010 and 105 jobs at its Galway operations in December 2010, which were followed by a further 50 new jobs.

However, Murphy is emphatic that the new jobs were won on the merit of HP’s existing workforce in Ireland.

“It’s down to the track record of the existing teams, they have proven they can deliver time and time again. It’s also due to the fact that we have demonstrated that we can find the skills we need here in Ireland.

“There’s a dynamic within the Irish-based workforce at HP that is winning these jobs and strengthening HP Ireland and Ireland Inc’s position as an R&D centre.”

Importance of innovation

On a personal level, Murphy has been passionate about innovation and building innovation into the DNA of Ireland, Inc.

“This is critical going forward, we have to get it into the DNA of the young people coming up. If you look at the OECD’s top 5 countries, which include Singapore and some of the Nordics, what it really boils down to is innovation in those countries. So I’m really passionate about the importance of innovation.”

HP’s sponsorship of the ITLG/Irish Times Innovation Awards sprung from a conversation between Murphy and ITLG co-founder and president John Hartnett at the Global Irish Economic Forum in October.

The awards will see 20 Irish technology companies traversing the worlds of social media, clean tech and hardware vie for top place at the awards’ fifth anniversary. The companies were selected following an extensive review of 100 companies at a series of pitch sessions at Dublin City University and the University of Ulster in October and November.

“What’s happening in Palo Alto on 12 and 13 March at the ITLG/Irish Times Innovation Awards is an unbelievable opportunity for 20 Irish companies to get access to the movers and shakers, the private-equity people, the large technology companies like HP and others, and that is an unbelievable once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These companies will get to engage with venture capitalists and set their stall out and show how they can grow and expand their operations internationally.

“It is an unbelievable opportunity to take Irish innovation and Irish innovators and get them onto a world stage.”

As a senior executive with HP and a citizen passionate about the prospects of his country, Murphy is an ideal ambassador representing how Ireland is getting back on its feet and getting on with things.

“I think Ireland has always been well respected both as a place to invest and a place to innovate. The concerns of 12 to 18 months ago about Ireland’s reputation have largely abated.

“The continuing stream of foreign direct investment (FDI) companies, and not just HP but many other companies, including Intel, Facebook, Google and Twitter, is testament to the fact that Ireland continues to be a place to innovate.

“Personally, I’m very single minded and driven around what I can do and what leadership can do in the face of the current economic climate that we are in. From that perspective, I tend to focus on what I can manage and I think we need to move on from the negative image of what’s happened.

“I wholeheartedly believe that Irish entrepreneurs are as good as any that I’ve come across internationally. Irish start-up companies are as innovative as any internationally.

“HP’s decision to sponsor this year’s event in Palo Alto came out of a conversation between myself and John Hartnett at the Global Irish Economic Forum and in terms of outcomes from the forum, this is a tangible and positive outcome.

“What John and the ITLG team have done in the last five years is absolutely fabulous. The engine of innovation in Silicon Valley is in Palo Alto, and that’s also the spiritual home of HP and practically every other major player in the tech sector.

“What the ITLG are doing is creating an avenue, opening doors and providing access for small Irish companies to spread their wings.

“It adds an awful lot of value and has to be commended,” Murphy says.

Silicon Republic has joined forces with the Irish Technology Leadership Group to bring you The Silicon Valley 50 most influential Irish-American people in the tech world ahead of the ITLG Innovation Summit in California on 12-13 March.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years