How do you get your start in the US tech scene?
James Cumiskey, customer success executive at Kemp Technologies in Limerick. Image: Kemp

How do you get your start in the US tech scene?

7 Nov 2018509 Views

James Cumiskey at Kemp knew New York was where he wanted to progress his career. So, how did he get his foot in the door?

The city of New York has earned a lot of sobriquets over the years – The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, The Empire City, to name but a few. James Cumiskey, a customer success executive at Kemp, calls the city “diverse, established, welcoming”.

As much as Cumiskey loves Ireland and lauds its position on the world tech stage, there was a point in time at which he felt the need to broaden his professional and personal horizons. This brought him to the famous city, which brought him to Kemp. After his visa came to an end, Cumiskey was happy to both return to his home country and to be greeted with open arms by Kemp.

We spoke to Cumiskey about his experiencing of relocating back to Ireland.

Where are you from?

I’m from the Co Armagh countryside, just between the border towns of Newry and Dundalk.

When did you decide to emigrate and why?

Ireland is undeniably a thriving country and a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. It is the European Union’s fastest-growing economy for the fourth year in a row now. However, for me, Ireland was too familiar. I wanted to expand my own professional and life experience in a bigger pond, one that would stand the test of time.

Back in 2015, the last stop on a round-the-world trip of mine was New York City. It was diverse, established, welcoming – it made an impression on me. New York seemed to offer the opportunities I had been looking for.

Where did you emigrate to and for how long were you gone?

In total, I was in New York for almost two years. I flew to NYC initially for three months back in February 2016 to network, interview and seek employment on the ground there, something that didn’t come easy without a pre-approved working visa.

Tapping into the Irish network was my saviour. I attended Irish-American business events and handed out résumés. Through word of mouth and my experience in the tech industry, I was able to acquire a sales position with Kemp, allowing me the time to return to Ireland and process my visa.

What made you want to/decide to come back?

My visa was coming to an end and that made my decision for me. Leaving New York was difficult but there was a swell of excitement about returning to Ireland. I looked forward to starting a new role in a new city. Things like seeing friends and family, and the Irish humour, never get old.

How did your current role come about?

Kemp is a global organisation with offices, employees and customers all over the world. Luckily, we happened to have our EMEA headquarters on Irish soil. Having gained the necessary experience and becoming ingrained in the Kemp story, I was happy to accept an offer to work in our Limerick location.

What work do you do?

Kemp provides intelligent load-balancing solutions for critical applications. Think of it as a software-based traffic cop directing high-volume user traffic to the best available server or data centre. This ensures continuous application delivery for our clients.

As a member of the sales team, I went from working on developing incoming sales leads in the US to a customer success role in Limerick. Kemp has built up a globally respected brand, with our customer support and experience being one of the best in the industry. It’s my job to build on that, ensuring our customers have a friendly point of contact, and organising the renewal of that support in a clear and timely manner.

What do you like most about your job?

Without a doubt, it’s the first-hand engagement I get to have with our customers. I get to speak with our clientele on a daily basis. I enjoy gathering feedback, answering questions, getting to know their likes and dislikes and, all in all, providing a real beneficial service that is enhancing their business and potential.

How did this company make it easier for you to move back?

Kemp was very flexible with the move home. It allowed me time to adjust, see friends and family, and find accommodation in Limerick. This was all helped with the relocation package provided. Relevant introductions were made to Limerick managers and staff prior to my start day, so communication could flow in preparation for my arrival and new role.

How did your time working abroad make you better suited for your job, if at all?

Living and working in a city like New York, you are exposed to a greater level of diversity and differing skillsets. It challenges you to adapt, absorb high-level information and strive to better yourself.

Customer success is all about providing the best customer experience possible. My time in the US gave me the exposure to the varied nature of our customers, to learn from them, and develop the type of industry knowledge and conversation needed, to provide internal feedback on how Kemp can better serve its clients.

What is the best thing about being back in Ireland?

The uncertainty of Brexit may be around the corner but it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a real excitement about being in Ireland at the moment. We’re an island at the centre of the world. We have a growing, dynamic workforce, an inflow of skilled foreign nationals. We are a leader in innovation and international. Project Ireland 2040 promises to assist in all of these, and encourage our social, economic and cultural development. The sky’s the limit.

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