Louise Phelan, VP of global operations, EMEA, PayPal
Louise Phelan, PayPal's VP of global operations, EMEA. Image: Connor McKenna

PayPal: ‘Diversity doesn’t happen by accident, it’s by design’

26 Feb 2016

There are few areas of the tech industry that have received more attention than the diversity disparity that is prevalent across the board. Companies like PayPal are trying to turn that around.

At last weekend’s Career Zoo spring event, we caught up with Louise Phelan, PayPal’s VP of global operations EMEA, to talk about diversity, inclusion, the talent gap and growing the tech pipeline.

Given PayPal’s global reach, it’s perhaps no surprise that growing the tech pipeline is of huge importance to the e-commerce company – too many roles and not enough people is a colossal problem.

“It’s a simple issue of supply and demand. We do not have enough supply of talent. We want to bring back the diaspora, and we have got to encourage people to come back into Ireland, other nationalities,” says Phelan.

Perhaps the talent gap has become more poignant in Ireland than elsewhere over the years since we entered recession. Here, it’s not just about the lack of talent, but about the talent that should have been here, but have found themselves elsewhere.

Says Phelan: “Their mammies want them back, and we’re going to help their mammies get them back”.

Supporting the Irish Government’s efforts to bring the diaspora home may go a long way towards growing the Irish pipeline. Of course, PayPal might already find it a little easier than most to find staff, and to keep them.


First off, there’s that heavy-hitting name. PayPal is a globally recognisable brand, not least because of its payment system being integrated through countless websites, globally.

But beyond the name, the e-commerce company knows how to keep people interested. To Phelan, one of the most important draws is that they offer a career, not just a job.

Another perk is that, every five years of service, each employee will get a month-long, fully-paid sabbatical. And if you need more reason to stay than that…

But, seriously, folks. PayPal is all about career development and supporting its team members. Initiatives like hiring people straight out of Leaving Cert and then paying for their education show that it’s keen to not only grow its staff, but to give them opportunities.

That also comes across when it comes to diversity.

“Diversity is hugely important,” says Phelan. “Our organisation has a very diverse culture. We make sure it’s diverse, it doesn’t happen by accident. We actually make sure it happens by design.”

For PayPal, that ethos of diversity segues into a policy of inclusion because, as Phelan puts it, you can have all the diversity in the world, but if people don’t feel included in the company, it will never work.

“Every team mate has a voice, and we want to hear that voice, because that will make us think differently, act differently and react to certain things differently.”

To learn more about PayPal, watch Phelan’s full interview:

Looking for tech jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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