Aoife Warren is a Partner with the global professional services firm EY. As part of EY Northern Ireland’s team, Aoife works with clients across Ireland, the UK, and globally. She is also involved in EY’s plans to establish a new North West hub, and create 1,000 new jobs across Northern Ireland in the next five years. Donegal-born Aoife graduated from Queens University Belfast with a Masters in Computer-Based Learning and lived and worked in the city for around 20 years before relocating to Derry with her family in 2021.

What can you tell us about the new EY hub in the North West?

It is really exciting that as part of our growth aspirations, we will seek to establish a regional hub in the North West to access the breadth of talent in the area.

I’m delighted to be working with Rob Heron, EY NI Managing Partner, on developing the strategy to grow our business in this region.

While EY has its roots in audit, tax, corporate finance and consulting services, over recent years it has expanded rapidly in response to growing client demand to include new offerings in areas such as technology and people advisory services, strategy, Artificial Intelligence and data analytics, among others. 

It is our intention to ensure some of these new roles are based in the North West and accessible to all talent in NI.

Why was the North West chosen?

This area was chosen for growth and development as a result of the untapped talent and highly skilled workforce. We are excited to leverage the diverse skillsets here as well as support new skills development through the Assured Skills Academy Programme run by the Department for the Economy.

We also recognise the broader collective focus between government, local councils and higher education, working together to continue to grow the North West region as a place to work and live.

The recent developments in infrastructure, connectivity, and education are attractive to a global firm like EY, establishing itself in the region.

What type of roles will EY be hiring for over the next five years?

As EY expands and develops its operations in Northern Ireland, we see growth opportunities in areas such as technology, data and analytics, people and advisory and risk as well as supporting the development of our core corporate financial and consulting services.

Globally, EY operates a hybrid working model, a model we will also adopt in the North West. We are currently looking at office space to support our ambition to establish our hub as soon as possible.

What does your role involve?

I am a Consulting Partner in EY Northern Ireland, and I work with teams and clients across Ireland, the UK and globally.

I support clients who are preparing for a significant business transaction, this involves helping companies establish or improve business processes.

I am also People Lead for our Northern Ireland operation, which involves continuously reviewing how we are attracting, developing and retaining the best people for our business.

What is an average day at work like for you?

We operate a hybrid working model, so when I’m working from home – early morning is generally spent getting my six and seven-year olds ready for school!

If I am not working from home, I will generally leave early to beat the traffic and get to Belfast by 8am. Once or twice per month I will fly to London directly from Derry Airport for client meetings. The days are spent in a mix of internal strategy and operations meetings, and client facing or business development meetings. And sometimes managing to grab a coffee or lunch with someone during the day.

What I love about my role is that I have the opportunity to work on big, complex and often global, transactions but yet still live in Derry/Londonderry close to my family and friends. I feel very privileged to be able to get the best of both worlds.

Why did you decide to return to the North West?

We loved living in Belfast but my husband is a proud Derry man and I’m from Donegal, so our decision to move ‘home’ was very much driven by wanting to be nearer to family. There are a multitude of other factors including the friendly people, the close-knit community, housing, and lifestyle. We just love this part of the world – the great outdoors, parks, and the beautiful beaches of Donegal. We can finish work and go to the beach with the kids in the evening – when we get the weather!

How do you spend your time off?

I like to meet up with my friends and walk the ‘two bridges’ followed by coffee and breakfast along the quay. As a family we love to explore all the woods, beaches and parks of Derry and Donegal. I love art and dabble a little bit with painting. I try to do weekend workshops with local Derry/Donegal artist Natasha Barr. She runs them from her studio in Quigley’s Point overlooking Lough Foyle – it’s a great way to de-stress and take time-out. 

What advice would you have for someone considering a move back to the North West?

I think anyone considering it should weigh up all the factors, do their research and determine when the timing is right for them…but ultimately for us it has been a very positive move.

More than 100 of Northern Ireland’s innovative businesses were showcased to more than 100 global investors at the Northern Ireland Investment Summit held 12th – 13th September in Belfast. With more than 100 investors from the USA, Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific regions in attendance. The Summit marked a significant opportunity to demonstrate Northern Ireland’s innovation and technological strengths across its internationally renowned sectors, including advanced manufacturing, software and technology, financial and professional services, and emerging health and life sciences.

Panel sessions at the event focused on why global investors should choose Northern Ireland with breakout sessions for each of the key growth sectors. In addition, An Irish Goodbye directors and youngest ever Oscar recipients Tom Berkeley & Ross White hosted a session on Northern Ireland’s thriving creative sector.

Companies selected to showcase and speak at the event from the Northwest City Region include FinTrU, TEREX, FAST Technologies, Seagate and AFLO (Respiratory Analytics).

Northern Ireland, boasting a cost-competitive environment, attracted £19.2 billion in inward investment in 2021. This makes it an enticing hub for businesses seeking strategic growth opportunities.

The Investment Summit precedes a substantial Global Investment Summit later in the year. CEOs, investors, and financiers will converge to showcase the entire UK as an optimal investment location. The inaugural event in 2021 catalysed significant investments and job creation in green energy and tech.

To find out more about the business opportunities available in the city region https://investderrystrabane.com/

FinTrU has announced plans to invest over £20m by 2027, which will see the creation of 300 new jobs in Londonderry and a significant investment in the skills of its Northern Ireland wide staff.

Supported by Invest Northern Ireland, the new roles will see FinTrU’s North West operation double in size.

Founded in 2013 by Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU is a multi-award-winning technologically enabled Regulatory Solutions company that works with Global Investment Banks. FinTrU specialises in the areas of KYC, Compliance, Legal, Risk & Controls and Operations. The Financial Times has named FinTrU as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies for two years in succession.

Pictured L-R are: Mel Chittock Interim CEO, Invest NI; Steven Murtland Chief Financial Officer; Kathleen McDermott Executive Director; Greg McCann Executive Director and Darragh McCarthy Founder & CEO.

Darragh said the latest expansion is “a significant step which will see FinTrU grow to over 1,500 employees in Northern Ireland and significantly increase our competitiveness, catapulting us into a new era of business growth.

“FinTrU is celebrating its 10th birthday in 2023 and the North West holds a special place in the heart of our business. Since making our first investment in Derry/Londonderry in 2018, we have been blown away by the talent and were able to surpass our initial jobs target one year ahead of schedule. Following the announcement of our Letterkenny site last year, our newest investment is a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to develop and champion the North West region and our staff who have helped us to grow here.

“Invest NI has been a vital partner in enabling our impressive growth to date and also in securing the long-term sustainability of our operations in both Derry/Londonderry and Belfast.”

Greg McCann is Executive Director & Head of FinTrU’s North West Office. Commenting on the talent offering in the North West, Greg said:

“FinTrU is an indigenous company to Northern Ireland and our people strategy is to attract, develop and retain the best talent in the marketplace. There are a lot of high-quality graduates coming from the local universities and colleges who have supported us to win new customers and grow our sales globally. We have also welcomed a large number of experienced professionals, who have returned to the North West to pursue the high-quality careers we can provide. It was a result of our fantastic talent that allowed FinTrU to win the Large North West Business of the Year at the North West Business Awards in 2022.”

Kathleen McDermott, FinTrU Executive Director, added:

“We have tripled our turnover in the North West in the last three years and as we further invest in the development of our people, we want to equip them with the skills and capabilities to further drive the growth and success of FinTrU. Our partnership with Invest NI empowers FinTrU to deliver specialist skills development programmes, which are critical to our future growth.”

The investment will offer valuable job opportunities for graduates of all disciplines and those wanting to change careers. Roles range from Graduate roles to more senior experienced positions.

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Speaking whilst on a visit to the company’s City Factory Office, Mel Chittock, Interim CEO of Invest NI said the investment was a vote of confidence for the North West:

“Job creation is only one part of the equation to build a productive, knowledge based, export driven economy; skills development is another. This investment delivers on both: 300 new jobs and a skills development package, which will see the company invest in its greatest asset, its staff.

“A highly and appropriately skilled workforce has a crucial role to play. The increased skills and capabilities that FinTrU gains will enable faster and increased company growth and will spearhead the development of a new Financial Services cluster in the North West region. 

“We have had a long partnership with FinTrU, since we first supported them to invest in Northern Ireland in 2014. We are pleased to be able to support this latest investment. Its emphasis on developing future leaders fits with the Department for the Economy’s 10X Vision by creating valuable job opportunities and addressing skills imbalances in the North West region. I am pleased to say that once in place, the jobs will contribute £8.6m of additional annual salaries to the local economy.”

FinTrU’s market-leading Graduate Programme is now open for applications in Derry/Londonderry. Applications can be submitted via www.fintru.com/grad. For a range of more experienced career opportunities, visit www.fintru.com/careers.

Northern Ireland’s largest IT company, Allstate NI, has revealed new flexible working practices as it continues to recruit 100 more employees.

The tech firm has designated all of its workforce as hybrid, meaning staff can work remotely or from any of its three offices in Derry, Strabane and Belfast. Each office has been redesigned to create collaborative working areas, with social spaces and built-in gaming zones.

Vice-president and managing director of Allstate NI, John Healy

Workers can also request a flexible working pattern, including part-time, condensed or staggered hours, from the start of their employment.

Earlier this year, Allstate NI announced it was seeking applicants for 100 new roles in areas including software development, cybersecurity and analytics.

Vice-president and managing director of Allstate NI, John Healy, said: “We are empowering every employee to design a working pattern that suits their needs and the requirements of their team while promoting a healthy work-life balance.”

He added: “With 100 roles currently on offer, we are thrilled to have opened new modern and dynamic workspaces that will foster more collaboration, innovation and socialisation when employees are in the office.”

Information on current vacancies at Allstate NI is available here.

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.

Are you returning to the North West for Christmas? A new campaign is encouraging local diaspora to consider moving home for good.

Job opportunities, career progression, quality of life and the benefits of the £250m City Deal are among the key draws highlighted by the ‘Come Home to Us’ campaign, spearheaded by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Investment team.

It features testimonials from local people who have returned to live, work and invest in the region after working abroad, plus information about the range and quality of jobs available, from attractive entry level roles to senior executive positions.

A range of ‘Work Life Balanced’ promotional videos, social media and digital advertising will be released over the festive period to support people who want to move home and build a life in the North West – whether it’s setting up their own business, finding a great job, working remotely, or availing of the excellent schools and natural beauty on our doorstep.

The campaign will also showcase the transformative £250m Derry and Strabane City Deal, which will further boost the local economy through cutting edge innovation and research, job creation and regeneration.

Meanwhile, the Invest Derry Strabane website also features a special round-up of companies currently hiring in the North West, including global firms such as Allstate and Seagate, local success stories such as Learning Pool and Elemental, and ground-breaking gaming company Hypixel Studios.

Rosalind Young, investment manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “This is a fantastic time to consider a move home. There are a wide range of opportunities available in the North West, whether you’re a graduate, on your second or third job, or looking for an experienced, senior level role.

“We have a great variety of sectors here who are currently hiring – from financial services and software development, to advanced manufacturing, engineering and life sciences – and a fantastic ecosystem of businesses, both homegrown successes and multinational companies all serving global clients from the North West.

“The recent shift towards remote working has also demonstrated that people don’t have to live in a major metropolis to do business, stay connected and progress their career path. This campaign is a chance to showcase the opportunities available in the Derry and Strabane region, and celebrate what makes it such a great place to live, work, invest and come back to.”

Ryan Williams is director of home care innovator Connected Health, and founder of business incubator and co-working space The AMP, which recently opened a new site at Derry’s Ebrington Square.

“I think there’s an increasing ecology of career progression in Derry, of moving from one company to the next. There are more senior positions, more technical positions here now, and a much better standard of life than somewhere like London or Dublin,” he said.

Jennifer Neff is co-founder of the award-winning social prescribing software company Elemental. She moved home to Derry and founded the company with Leeann Monk after living in Edinburgh and Manchester.

She said: “I am getting everything I need from this city and region and I am giving back too, having created 35 jobs at Elemental with my business partner, Leeann Monk. There is an energy here right now that I haven’t seen before. Lots of people are making great things happen and there is a chance to be part of that by moving to this wonderful place.”

For a round-up of companies currently hiring in the North West, visit https://investderrystrabane.com/worklife/

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