The impressive ecosystem of multinationals based in the North West of Ireland provides the people of the region with strong employment and development opportunities across diverse sectors.

One of the North West City Region’s largest employers, Allstate NI was established in 1998, to provide high quality software and business solutions to support its US-based parent company, the Allstate Corporation. Protecting people from life’s uncertainties with more than 113 million proprietary policies, Allstate offers a broad array of protection products through multiple brands and diverse distribution channels, including auto, home and life assurance.

Employing 900 people across the North West in offices in Derry and Strabane, the region is of major strategic importance to the company.  Their Derry office celebrating 20 years in business last year.

Allstate Strabane Office

Based in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Talent Acquisition Manager, Alan Fletcher explains Allstate’s reasons to locate in the region with “The initial set-up about getting access to a deep talent pool available in the wider city region. The North West has talented individuals who make a great contribution to the success of all our businesses.”

Alan Fletcher: Talent Acquisition Manager

Alan is one of many cross-border workers in the Fortune 100 firm. He along with fellow colleague Maria McColgan, are both natives of Donegal and are part of a growing list of digital professionals who speak glowingly about Allstate and the North West City Region.

Maria speaks about the Allstate experience; “the social aspect of the company was beyond anything I had ever experienced, there is so much inclusiveness here and I felt this also supported my development professionally.”

Maria McColgan: Product Manager (Allstate)

Alongside her role as Product Delivery Manager, Maria is also as an ‘Inclusion Champion’, ensuring training is available for all employees and that everyone is happy coming to work. As well as this, Maria is an advocate for Women in Technology at Allstate, “I feel that as a female in IT that there is so much opportunity for which we need to make the next generation aware of.”

Looking to the future, Allstate aims to keep on top of technological advancements by looking for new talent and skillsets in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation and Cyber Security.

The company have embarked on an ambitious investment in re-skilling existing employees in these areas and identifying the next generation of talent, through their 3-year graduate development programme.

At least 100 graduate positions are expected to be filled this year with successful candidates being put through a journey of continuous professional development at Allstate, exploring roles in the skillsets identified such as AI, machine learning, production support and product testing. “The talent, skills and connectivity found in the North West is a major draw for Allstate to grow our talent centres,” comments Alan.

The company offers a flexible hybrid working policy, allowing employees to design a work schedule appropriate for their needs, while also helping to achieve the perfect work-life balance.

When touching on their experiences of living and working in the North West, the benefits were clear. Living in Carndonagh and working in the Calayst building in Derry, Maria comments that her commute through Donegal to work is “way more appealing that a 30-minute sit in traffic.”

“I suppose the major bonus is working in a close-knit community that the North West region provides”, Maria concludes.

“For me it is being able to have a global career in a unique location. I have been able to work in both Donegal and Derry for some of the biggest companies in the world” says Alan.

He also delves deeper into the ecosystem of collaboration between multinationals and high-quality educational institutions as Talent Acquisition manager: “I have built academic partnerships with the University of Ulster, North West Regional College and Atlantic Technological University to name a few and it has been great to see exciting job opportunities being created in the North West region.”

“The fact the region has been voted the best place to work in Northern Ireland shows we are heading in the right direction.”

With the MIT Innovators Under 35 Event set to take place in the gTeic @ GaothDobhair this week, showcasing the vast array of talent of young people across Europe and the North West City Region, it’s assuring to see that investment in the talent of tomorrow is fundamental to Allstate’s operations within the region. 

PwC is opening a space at Ulster University’s Magee Campus in Derry/Londonderry as part of its investment in innovation in Northern Ireland.

The space will house research and development for its £40m Advanced Research and Engineering Centre (ARC), which launched last year in conjunction with Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, with support from Invest Northern Ireland. 

Through its alliances with government and academia, ARC’s innovation ecosystem is looking to build solutions to complex business problems into the next decade and beyond. This latest collaboration will see Ulster University students and researchers, at the Jordanstown and Magee campuses, work alongside Operate staff.

The new space will be used primarily as a base for ARC staff based in the North West of the country as PwC Operate ramps up recruitment from beyond its Belfast base. PwC Operate will start with four people at Ulster University’s Magee campus, but is looking to establish a larger team as ARC builds out its capabilities. 

Ian McConnell, PwC Operate Lead Partner, commented: “We’re delighted to be establishing a presence in the northwest. ARC’s vision includes university postgraduates working on research projects that feed into the software engineering function of ARC, as we develop solutions to our clients’ problems. ARC will continue to be based in our Merchant Square HQ in Belfast, but we’re keen to recruit from as wide a talent pool as possible. To be able to offer opportunities to people across the country is something very close to my heart and I believe fundamental to the success of this initiative.”

Jim Harkin, Head of the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems from Ulster University also added: “It is positive for the Derry and Strabane City and District that PwC’s Operate will open an office at Ulster University’s Magee campus. The new office located on the Magee campus reflects the growing interest in doing business in Derry/Londonderry because of the easy access to talented people and innovative research from the Intelligent Systems Research Centre. As we develop research centres for robotics, AI and personalised medicine in the years to come as part of the Derry & Strabane City Deal, we will see more and more companies growing their presence in the North West and creating high-tech jobs.” 

An innovative new approach to promoting careers in the tech industry launched at a special school-focused event on March 10th as part of Enterprise Week 2022.

TECH CHAMPIONS is an exciting tech-themed careers comic aimed at young people, showcasing six local tech professionals and entrepreneurs and detailing the pathways they followed to develop their tech-related careers or businesses. It’s a collaborative project by Startacus and Revolve Comics, delivered in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alchemy Technology Services, and North West Regional College.

The TECH CHAMPIONS event will brought the tech professionals illustrated in the comic to life in a live streamed and in-person event during Enterprise Week.

At TECH CHAMPIONS local tech professionals and entrepreneurs chatted about their own varied backgrounds and journeys in the tech sector, with the aim of highlighting the diverse range of tech careers and opportunities which exist locally. Speaking at the event, Alastair Cameron, Startacus co-founder, said: “We believe that this innovative approach to championing tech roles and careers will help signpost local students to fantastic opportunities in these exciting and fast growing sectors. We are proud of the collaborative approach this initiative has taken, working with partners who are fully committed to helping inspire our young people.”

The event served as a launch for Derry City and Strabane District Council’s bespoke website www.homeground.me, the North West’s first interactive digital map profiling the Digital, Creative and Fintech sectors in Derry, Strabane and Letterkenny.]]

Head of Business with Council, Kevin O’Connor, said the site will be an invaluable resource for anyone seeking a career in the tech industry. “The Homeground Site will provide a platform for industry professionals to share information and experience with the next generation of tech talent. Cross-border collaboration is an essential element in our campaign to promote the North West region as an exciting and attractive location for school leavers, offering both professional opportunity and fantastic lifestyle benefits. This new resource will help young people pinpoint opportunities and connect them with the companies best suited to their skills and ambitions.”

Homeground has resulted from the work of Council’s Digital, Creative and Financial Technologies Subgroup. Columb Duffy, Senior Leader at Allstate NI in the North West, is the Chair of the Subgroup. He advises anyone at home or working away who is interested in a career in Digital, Creative or Fintech, or wants to see what the North West has to offer, to click onto Homeground to view the fastest growing sectors in the North West and the global career opportunities that are right here on our doorstep. “Making sure the next generation of workers is as informed as possible about their choices is a major part of the group’s work and aims to connect young people directly with industry,” he explained.”Industry and businesses have the expert knowledge that our school leavers need as they begin to think about their careers. What this partnership is about is developing a local talent pipeline of bright and eager young people to work and live locally and to address skills gaps in the North West.”

The Podium Partnership is a new initiative by the Trust to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lady Mary Peters winning her Olympic Gold Medal in 1972.  

The Podium Partnership will last for three years working together with benefits to both parties. There will be a collaborative partnership with both parties exchanging skills, time and talent.

Barry Funston, chairman of the Mary Peters Trust, said: “We are delighted to announce Alchemy Technology Services as our first Podium Partner in the 50th Anniversary year of Lady Mary’ s famous Gold Medal victory in Munich. Alchemy’s innovative ground-breaking approach to staff development mirrors that of the sportsmen and women we support here at the Trust. Their support will enable us to continue to help young people, both disabled and able-bodied, achieve their sporting dreams and ambitions.” 

CEO and founder of Alchemy Technology Services, which employs over 140 people in the North West city region, John Harkin, added: “Partnering with the Mary Peters Trust is a natural fit for us. Alchemy’s values closely align with the Trust, we encourage our people to be the best versions of themselves, adopt a winner mindset and to “Go for Gold”. For 40 years the Trust has been providing invaluable support to athletes across Northern Ireland and we are committed to assisting this important mission into the future.”

In June 2020, Derry City and Strabane District Council granted planning permission for the major international data centre developer, Atlantic Hub, to locate the centre at the Foyle Port Innovation Park. Work began this month on the development which will host computer data and services equipment for large tech companies, catering to the growing global tech sector and generating up to 100 jobs.

The campus at Foyle Port will have the capacity for up to 500,000 sq ft of technical floorspace, one of the largest ever infrastructure developments in the North West. It will offer world class services to large corporates and hyperscale data centre operators, utilising the EXA (Kelvin), transatlantic fibre-optic submarine cable, providing excellent connectivity to North America and Europe.

“After a significant period of preparation, we are delighted to begin construction of our flagship development project”, said Brian Doherty, Managing Director at Atlantic Hub. “We consider the North West to be an excellent location for our data centre development, and our investment in the region reflects the fantastic economic opportunities on offer here. With unique access to the UK and EU markets, this development is set to attract some of the largest global companies and investors to our shores in the coming years.”

With a ‘twin’ site in Letterkenny also being considered as part of the same cross border campus, this development forms part of transformative work from across the North West to boost our offering to foreign investors. The strategic location provides connectivity to local energy supplies generated from 100% certified renewable sources.

Learning Pool has paid an undisclosed sum for True Office Learning, a firm in the United States which specialises in compliance training.

True Office was at one time owned by the New York Stock Exchange.

Learning Pool’s chief executive Ben Betts said the deal with True Office Learning is “a significant step” for the Derry-based company.

“In the past two years, the way we work and learn has changed dramatically, and our aim is to lead the way in reshaping the new workplace learning landscape,” Mr Betts said.

The addition of True Office should take Learning Pool’s annual turnover to around £50m. The firm is aiming to significantly grow its business in the US where it already has an office in Colorado.

True Office’s major clients include the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and the agri-food company, Cargill. Learning Pool was founded in 2006 by Paul McElvaney, who is now the firm’s executive chair.

The company provides online training courses for a range of major businesses and public sector organisations.

Last year a US private equity firm, Marlin Equity Partners, bought a majority stake in the business.

Software development company AquaQ Analytics is recruiting 40 staff for its new North West branch.

The Belfast-based business, which was founded in 2011 and employs around 250 people globally, is one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing companies. It provides specialist consulting, software and data services, cloud solutions and more, to clients working in sectors including capital markets and Tier One investment banks. 

It hopes the new roles, which will offer a flexible mix of home and office working, will attract people living in the North West as well as border counties in the Republic of Ireland.

AquaQ recently held an insight event in Derry’s City Hotel to help potential employees and new graduates find out more about the business and speak with staff.

Ronan Pairceir, CEO of AquaQ, said: “We look forward to our expansion into the North West. Since the start of Covid, we have added an additional 100 employees around the world, with plans to reach 400 employees globally over the coming 18 months.”

Patrick Farren, Head of Engineering, added: “We are looking to recruit Java and React developers for our rapidly expanding Software Engineering division. These roles will involve using modern development tools and concepts to deliver high quality, best practice software solutions to our clients. Successful applicants will require a mix of technical and client-facing skills, offering highly rewarding careers for the right people.”

Financial services firm FinTrU has announcing it is opening an office in Maastricht.

​Based at the southern tip of The Netherlands, next to the Belgian border, the Maastricht site will help the company support its Tier 1 Investment Bank clients and assist them in managing their global regulatory requirements.

Setting up a base in the Dutch city (where the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, establishing both the EU and the Euro) further strengthens FinTrU’s operation in Europe. The company also opened a new Dublin office in September.

FinTrU, which currently employs more than 900 people across Derry, Belfast, London, Dublin and New York, is now recruiting for new roles in Maastricht. For more information on vacancies, visit FinTrU’s career portal: www.fintru.com/careers

Derry-based Alchemy Technology Services has been ranked at number 10 on a list of the UK’s Best Workplaces for Tech.

When the list of medium-sized tech firms was compiled, by the Great Place to Work institute, 97% of Alchemy’s workforce said: ‘Our customers would rate the service we deliver as “excellent”’.

The news follows Alchemy’s recent rankings as number 29 on the UK’s Best Workplaces list, and number 11 on the UK’s Best Workplaces for Women list.

Alchemy was launched in September 2018 to provide insurance software implementation and support. Since then, it has grown from two people to more than 100 staff, working with insurance companies, system integrators and software providers to support the digitisation of the global insurance industry.

CEO John Harkin said: “We spend a lot of time and money on developing our culture. We foster a workplace that encourages and values collaboration, knowledge sharing and discourages internal competition and we have achieved this when 18 of the 36 months we have been in business have been spent in lockdown.”

Alchemy is currently hiring Senior Technical Analysts to join their team. For more information visit www.alchemytechs.com

Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), a global leader in business process management and optimising the customer experience lifecycle, is encouraging North West job seekers to apply for a range of new roles.

HGS recently announced plans to create over 560 jobs across Northern Ireland in customer service, management, and support, with employees able to take advantage of the firm’s flexible work at home model.

With more than 400 positions recruited and confirmed already, HGS is promoting a range of jobs that are currently still available.

Rosalind Young, investment manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We’re pleased that HGS is building its presence in this region, with a view to establishing one of their Engagement Hubs in the future. We already know this area is full of talent and potential, and we have been promoting the Northern Ireland as a premium remote working destination for a while now.

“HGS is an excellent company that offers a fantastic range of employment opportunities across our Council area. All of the posts will primarily be home-based, and customer service experience is highly desirable in candidates. Home-based posts come with a number of positive attributes in that they offer less travelling for staff, a better work life balance, and more flexibility. Full training will be provided, and the posts will be particularly suited to those in our Council area attracted to working from home through lifestyle or necessity, and those who live in more remote communities.”

You can send your CV directly to Preston.Recruitment@teamhgs.com