Enterprise Ireland’s experienced market advisors (MAs) provide expert guidance to Irish businesses expanding into the UK market and engaging with their British clients. In the first of our series of MA Q & As, we get to know David Corcoran, Senior UK Market Advisor for the talent and technology sectors.
Hi David, let’s jump straight in – what can you tell us about the talent and technology sector?
“Well, talent affects every single industry – so the first thing I would say is, that makes it a really interesting space to work in. Right now, there is a strong cluster of Irish businesses coming through at the intersection between talent and technology with impressive solutions to offer in supporting UK companies to realise their potential.
“The UK is usually the first port of call for these Irish companies looking to grow overseas. Where I come in is helping to facilitate the relationships between those UK businesses with talent challenges and the Irish technology companies who can solve these challenges for them.”
That does sound like an interesting role. What led you to it?
“My background is in technology and business. Before moving to the UK, I lived in the Netherlands for 9 years, and have worked in a number of different industries including financial services and pharma.
“I joined Enterprise Ireland originally in 2008, and what I really enjoy is that my role pulls together those different skill sets, interests and experiences I have. Specialising in talent management allows me to work closely with an impressive group of entrepreneurs, innovators, and thought leaders, while taking deep dives into a range of businesses. The technology side is fast-paced; it’s always evolving and never gets boring.”
And what does a typical day look like working for Enterprise Ireland?
“I try and structure my days in two halves. In the morning I work with Irish companies, advising strategically on how to develop and scale into the UK, or strengthen their existing UK presence. I try to help them craft their value proposition and validate opportunities within the British marketplace.
“In the afternoons I make time to research industries and engage with my broader network to connect capable Irish businesses with UK opportunities. A couple of evenings a week I can be be found at peer-to-peer and technology networking events.”
You’re a busy man! What are you working on at the moment?
“I’m helping redesign our talent management portfolio at the moment and to identify the Irish companies who have the capacity to scale and diversify further internationally, and as part of this I’m in regular contact with my Enterprise Ireland counterparts in the US and Ireland to share knowledge and develop a strategy for the redesign.
“I’m really excited about an employee engagement focused event that I’m developing in Ireland. I’m organizing the agenda and topics at the moment and identifying UK companies who have an interest in this topic and would be keen to travel to Ireland to meet with companies in our portfolio.
“Later this year, we will have an Irish area at the well known TRU recruitment conference in the UK, which will enable our client companies to demo their technology to talent acquisition directors so I’m planning our approach for this event, and already beginning to lay the foundations for our own talent event in London, NexTech20 in January 2020, which will be a follow up to our very successful NexTech19 event earlier this year.”
You mention industry trends – what are the main ones you’re seeing right now?
“It’s hard to avoid AI at the moment as it is discussed at every technology and talent conference. How it can be used to aid the recruitment process and find the best talent ahead of the competition is very relevant. Any technology that can automate and accelerate processes that will, in turn, allow recruiters to free up time to focus on securing the best fit, will always be appealing to industry.
“Engaging and retaining talent is another focus point for Irish companies in this sector, particularly programmes and solutions built around developing employee wellbeing and recognition. I’ve also seen a huge amount of growth for companies and technologies that are specialising in remote working. More and more people seek flexible working environments and having the right tech to support and enable this is essential.”
Are there any companies you’re really excited about working with right now?
“I support over 120 Irish talent management companies operating in the UK – so it’s hard to make a choice like that! My portfolio spans everything from employee engagement, and professional learning to talent acquisition, and workforce management.
“Some of the most innovative companies that I’m currently working with are a number of our high potential start-up companies, including BidRecruit, HireUp, and Wrkit, all of whom have made impressive entries to the UK market. BidRecruit is smart, fast and cost-effective A.I. and automation recruitment software for HR and hiring managers. HireUp provides a cloud-based solution that simplifies and revolutionises employee referral programmes, and Wrkit has developed an employee engagement platform that inspires better, healthier, working environments and counts Deliveroo as one of their leading clients in the UK.
“All three are at a really exciting point in their UK growth and are just a snapshot of the impressive calibre of Irish companies we have in our talent management portfolio.”
And your thoughts on industry challenges in the future?
“The war for talent will continue, but it has evolved into a war for skilled workers. The power in the recruitment process has certainly switched sides to the candidate, so employers will need to distinguish themselves throughout the recruitment and onboarding process, and then offer flexible solutions, such as remote working to retain their best talent once they find it.
This will be a challenge for some traditional employers in the UK initially, but there is a wealth of innovative talent technologies available, with Irish companies leading the charge, and the UK companies who adapt to the new world of work will have a bright future in these uncertain times.”