A view of Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim with houses by the river bank and reeds visible.
Image: © Niall/Stock.adobe.com

Innovation and ice cream: Cora Systems’ fast-growing team has a local feel

13 Jun 2023

All employees at Cora Systems get €5,000 a year which they must spend on learning and development. The company is recruiting steadily both in Ireland and further afield.

A little over a year ago, Irish tech company Cora Systems said it planned to create more than 300 new jobs to fulfil its ambitions to scale its business in Ireland and in the US.

Headquartered in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim, Cora Systems is a software-as-a-service company that provides project management capabilities via its enterprise platform.

Recently, the Irish Times reported that Cora Systems would create 70 jobs by the end of May but it made it clear that this was actually part of the initial hiring announcement made last year. It included jobs for Irish-based hybrid workers as well as US workers.

The plan from a year ago claimed that the first 100 jobs would be filled by roughly the end of 2023 while the remaining 200 would be filled by 2024.

Susanne Kerins, head of marketing, who has worked with Cora Systems for six years now, filled SiliconRepublic.com in on how the expansion strategy is going and what kind of career the company can offer applicants.

It is looking for people across R&D, development, engineering, management, implementation consultancy, business analysis, sales and customer success.

“In the last 12 months alone, we’ve grown over 200pc. We’ve increased our headcount by over 50pc.” Every day there are about three or four new people starting.

While Cora Systems has a hybrid model, Kerins pointed out that a lot of people want to be based in Leitrim and nearby Sligo where the pace of life is more relaxed than the city and the cost of living is lower.

Being close to the headquarters also means workers don’t miss out on perks like spontaneous ice-cream runs by the CEOs. Half of the company’s 190-and-counting staff headcount is based in Ireland, while around 40 to 50 are based in the expanding US office. There are also teams based in the UK office and in Croatia and Poland.

Susanne Kerins standing against trees in the background.

Image: Susanne Kerins

Speaking of the company culture, Kerins said “It’s a place where we work really hard, but we also play hard.” She said she had a cone with her colleagues in the sunshine on the day she spoke to us.

“It’s a very flat organisation. So, everybody treats each other the same way; everybody’s door is open, which I love. I think we’ve done a really good job over the years of hiring for culture fit – I know people overuse that word, but it is absolutely imperative to our success that we hire people that fit our culture.”

Like most ambitious scaling companies, though, Cora Systems hires people that are good at their jobs. As well as a good culture, Kerins said the business has “the feel and drive of a start-up” – albeit a “25-year-old start-up at this stage”.

“So, lots of energy. Lots of very smart people, but people who really look out for each other. The one thing about Cora that I’ve never experienced anywhere else to that level is that if I asked anybody across the business to help me with something, they will help. It’s a great company to work for.”

The all-in-it-together attitude Kerins described is working for Cora Systems. After all, the number of companies hiring in tech at the moment has dwindled recently. Kerins attributed the fact Cora is still “crying out for more people” to its bootstrapped funding model – unlike other growing businesses it didn’t rely too much on VC funding, meaning it is in a position to hire for growth.

The ”organic” funding model is reflected across the rest of the business. For a fast-scaling company that is setting its sights on the US, it knows when slow is important. Kerins said that when it comes to hiring they hire for the long haul as they prefer to retain staff as much as possible.

Learning and development is very important to retention at Cora Systems, where every staff member gets a grant of €5,000 per year which they have to spend on upskilling. This is non-negotiable.

‘The one thing about Cora that I’ve never experienced anywhere else to that level is that if I asked anybody across the business to help me with something, they will help. It’s a great company to work for’

Retaining customers is something the company prides itself in, too. Said Kerins, “We don’t just throw a software product across the road to a customer and say, ‘Off you go. Best of luck.’ We work really closely with them because we’re selling large deals – multimillion-dollar to billion-dollar organisations – so it’s very much a partnership approach. We work really closely with them to really understand their needs and their pain points and their challenges.”

“At the moment, probably about 75pc of our revenue comes from the US and that number will grow and grow,” said Kerins. The company’s major markets include government contractors and particularly aerospace and defence companies in the US.

“When you’re working with those types of companies, there are certain compliance criteria that you have to meet, so your IT support team have to be US citizens. So to support those types of customers, we have to have boots on the ground.”

This means Cora Systems is at the stage where it is having to scale its marketing and R&D teams into the US, although Kerins said that the global team will still be in Carrick-on-Shannon.

“We’re at a point where we’re going through so much growth that we’re going to be a $100m company in a couple of years’ time. We have to scale the business to be able to supply that demand that’s coming out so we need to build out those hubs in the US and mainland Europe.”

But she said that the CEO, Philip Martin is “a big local man” and Cora Systems offers relocation packages to people when they want to move closer to Ireland.

And while Cora Systems is focusing on global growth it is working on a number of things in Ireland such as a project with Queen’s University Belfast, which is still being developed.

“Part of our roadmap is around bringing artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics into the product,” said Kerins, of the R&D project, adding that the emphasis on learning and development for all staff has helped give it momentum.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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