Kemp Technologies co-founder Peter Melerud discusses Ireland’s tech talent pool and why companies choose to set up shop here.
Ireland has a strong reputation when it comes to foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the technology space. Earlier this month, Ann O’Dea spoke to IDA Ireland’s CEO, Martin Shanahan, about the unique strong points the country has.
“The number-one conversation we have with prospective investors is around the availability of talent,” he said. “Stability is a huge part of Ireland’s offering.”
Recent investments from multinational companies include Intel, which is creating 1,600 jobs in Ireland with an expansion of its Leixlip plant, and State Street, which will be hiring for 400 jobs in Kilkenny as part of a new cybersecurity unit.
Another US company with a significant presence in Ireland is Kemp Technologies, which is best known for its load balancer tech built on its own proprietary software platform.
The New York-headquartered company’s journey in Ireland began more than a decade ago as a result of a chance meeting between an IDA Ireland representative and Kemp co-founder Peter Melerud.
“At the time, Kemp was already doing more than 40pc of its revenue in Europe and it was clear to us at the time that in order for us to scale the business and properly serve our customers, we need to have a ‘headquarters’ in Europe,” said Melerud.
“Because our IP originated in Germany and the greater DACH region was where the overwhelming majority of our customers and partners were at the time, it seemed only natural for us focus on Germany as the potential future home base of our European operations.”
However, from that initial conversation, Ireland won out in the end and Kemp established its European HQ in Limerick. Melerud said an attractive corporate tax rate, access to a strong talent pool and a general business-friendly environment were among the top benefits.
‘Having access to new technical and engineering talent coming out of University of Limerick and Limerick IT was crucial to our growth and success’
– PETER MELERUD
“What makes Ireland especially attractive for US companies is most certainly the people and culture. We’ve had no prior experience with Ireland – but the moment I got off the plane, I found the Irish people extraordinarily welcoming and good natured and why I ultimately decided to make Ireland home,” he said.
“For US companies – in particular those that are in the early growth or expansion stages in Europe – English language being ‘standard’ is also a huge plus.”
Top tech talent
The shortage of tech talent has been widely discussed for several years and it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon as demand soars. This is why strong talent pools are often a key motivator for companies when it comes to selecting locations for future offices and hubs.
Earlier this year, Personio CEO Hanno Renner told Siliconrepublic.com: “When we objectively looked at the European landscape, we felt that Dublin was a great location to find and grow a lot of amazing talent given the strong tech scene that’s there already.”
Melerud echoed Renner’s sentiments, saying that Ireland has “a fantastic technical talent pool” for companies that rely on tech and innovation.
“Over the past 10 years, we were able to find and nurture talent in R&D, technical sales and sales operations, marketing, technical support, product management, finance and people ops,” he said.
“Being in Limerick specifically, having access to new technical and engineering talent coming out of University of Limerick and Limerick IT, now TUS, was crucial to our growth and success. We were able to fully leverage our internship programme to harness the talent and it was truly awesome to watch these young graduates mature into highly productive and sought-after employees.”
For tech professionals looking to advance their careers in Ireland, Melerud said it’s important to broaden their knowledge as early as possible.
“While it is critical to have depth of knowledge in your specific subject matter, understanding how it all fits together in a company [and] what role and impact your specific area of expertise has on your employer’s goals and objectives [is important].”