John Dennehy on Zartis and Make IT in Ireland

Grand and less grand assemblies of the good and not so good have gathered over the last few years united by a stated desire to resurrect Ireland from the builder’s rubble of the recent financial calamity. Many of the voiced aspirations are lofty and aspirational and Technology Voice offers what support it can to any activity which shows promise of getting Ireland on its feet and fighting fit again.

That is all very nice, but no amount of ‘help’ in the form of ambitious sentiment and rhetorical incitements to action can take the place of people being rewarded for their efforts through working in wealth creating jobs.

While the general economy still leaves much to be desired, Ireland’s Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) sector is a gem not only in the country’s crown but Europe’s as well — so carpet baggers need not apply.

According to these remarkable figures supplied to us by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation the ICT sector is not just surviving but is actually thriving.

All of the top 10 technology companies are present in Ireland

Current employment: 90,000+

Employment growth: 6% in 2009; 4% in 2010

Jobs announcements: 3,500 in 2010; over 4,000 in 2011

6,000 + jobs announced in 2012

5 of the top 10 exporters are technology companies

Total number of ICT enterprises: 5,402 – most are services

233 foreign owned ICT companies
Ireland receives one third of US European-investment

ICT Manufacturing:
39% foreign owned which represents 99% of turnover of ICT Manufacturing in Ireland
Average people employed in an ICT manufacturing company: 173 people; turnover: €230 million
51% of total ICT turnover

ICT Services:
45% foreign owned which represents 88% of turnover in ICT Services in Ireland
Average number employed: 11; turnover: €7 million
49% of total ICT turnover

Certainly, there is a way to go. In the temporary absence of a robust financial system, riskier innovation will need outside financing and International companies, large and small, will always be welcomed.

However, the most pressing need in the ICT sector at the moment is appropriately skilled people.

John Dennehy is trying to solve this problem from two angles. The first is with the recently launched Zartis of which he is the CEO. It is a web based recruitment service that promotes job opportunities that a company may have through the use of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. The Zartis software can then, in turn, help manage the responses from applicants. Storing their CVs in a database and so on.

According to John, “It is basically a software tool to find the right talent.”

“We have spent the last eight months working with a group of companies in Dublin. Talking to them about what the need and the types of people they need to hire. We spent a lot of time talking to the recruiting teams in the multi-nationals and the feedback is consistently that we need more people with IT skills, marketing, business analytics, and operations.”

Another category that is much desired by employers are people with native-language skills.

“The makeup of a lot of the jobs in the software sector come from the fact that we have a lot of US multi-nationals based over here and … they are serving local European countries. So if you are serving into a local European country the chances are you need a local language skill.

“At the moment in Ireland, there is an awful lot of people looking for people with native German skills, Dutch skills and Nordic language skills.”

This is understandable as, “They are the strongest economies that are the growing the fastest and buying the most products.”

Even with a sickening unemployment rate of 14+% unemployment rate, there are not enough Irish people with the requisite skills.

A solution to this shortfall is to bring people in from other countries that can do the jobs that are being offered. The question is how? Despite the astonishing health and promise of the ICT sector a casual overseas observer of Irish affairs could be forgiven, (even if mistaken) for thinking that the country was a basket case.

This is where John’s other project, Make IT in Ireland takes on significance.

“Make IT in Ireland is a completely industry-led project. We are trying to reach out to the people in Europe to effectively inform them of the opportunities that are here.”

Using some of the technology from Zartis it also uses social media to let people in Europe who have an interest in the ICT sector about the possibilities that are available in Ireland for employment and career progress.

“When people come to the Make IT in Ireland site we tell them about Ireland and about how to come over here. It also links them into the careers sites for the multi-national companies (MNC). The other thing we do is to allow the individual to submit their CV into a CV database so that any of the recruiters from the MNCs can log in and see those CVs.

“Make IT in Ireland is not a philanthropic venture. It is sponsored by business. Effectively, a group of multi-nationals run the project and we are paid to run it but on their behalf. The multi-nationals wouldn’t be paying money if there wasn’t a gap.

“There are no agencies or other companies, that I am aware of, that specifically have a major focus on targeting everyday people that might work in the technology sector and try and get them to move over to Ireland.”

Unlike the opportunities for talking and ‘exchanging ideas’ the opportunities for action are always constrained by relevance and time. Neither of which care for sentiment, however noble. As John warns:

“We need people with customer service skills, marketing skills and native-language skills. We need all of them here in Ireland. And if we don’t get them here and if the skills don’t come here to work with multi-nationals then the jobs will be set up in the local territory.”

Worky: Career Development Through Social Networking

Worky is the latest project from Ray Nolan, one of Ireland’s most successful Internet entrepreneurs. He set up in 1999 with three other investors. The company was sold ten years later for a multi-million dollar return on the initial $150,000 investment.

Ray then set about establishing Worky, which is a social network for employers and employees. Users input their details and skills into their Worky profile, and the site then recommends jobs which are applicable to that user’s skillset. As Ray says, “The reality is you’re not getting found with a paper CV in your back pocket. With something like a Worky profile you can. It’s an industry that needs to change.”

So what makes Worky different from traditional job sites?

“Take Monster which is a pure job site. The problem with job sites is that they’re fairly pointless. They are, I would argue, not necessarily good for the individual searching for a job, nor for the publisher of jobs. Because if you’re a small or medium enterprise and you’re publishing a job ad, you might find yourself on page three of the search results. No-one’s ever going to see it.”

How does Worky compare to Linkedin?

“Linkedin is much more our territory, it’s a social network for business. It’s very lofty in terms of its positioning so it’s very much for senior management or business development people, people who have to market themselves or their companies a lot. It’s very much about the network.

“In other words, I go into work, I work in a team of three people doing whatever I do and I go home. My work network is the people I meet every day, I don’t have to be on any website to see them, and I get my instructions from my boss, and I do my job.

“Our view was that there has to be somewhere in the middle, somewhere between Facebook and Linkedin that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

“Linkedin’s very exclusive — you have to be in that tier one demographic. Also the site is a closed network so you don’t get found on Google or any other search engine, so it’s a closed environment.

“If you Google my name and you find a reference to me on Linkedin, their optimisation within Google would be very poor because they only care about getting you to use their network. If you’re not in a network onn Linkedin then you have no real point to be there.”

So how is Worky different?

“Worky is a business network; much of the functionality is the same as Linkedin. We would argue that it’s positioning is not as lofty so it applies to people from entry level, first job, or even graduates, right up to CEO’s so it’s much more inclusive in terms of the range of people that have relevance within Worky.

“It is also an open network so you do get found on Google or Linkedin, and it’s your profile that gets found, it’s not a link to get in to Linkedin or another site, it’s all about you, so you’re or whatever, and that is your profile, it’s not some convoluted URL.

“It’s nice and clean, you can tell people where you can be found, so it’s not exclusive either.

“Also the job element is much more built into Worky. While there is a network, it’s not mandatory to partake in it. You might just say, look I work in a team of three people, I don’t need to connect or link in to anybody, but I do deserve a place to showcase my skills, to showcase my talents, to put my CV online so that I might get a better job.”

Accessibility seems to be a big part, in that you can go in, not be part of a big network, and still find opportunities?

‘Yes, the point is that employment is built in to Worky right from day one, so if you build your skills or build a profile on Worky, you can press one button and send a PDF of your CV effectively to anybody.

“It’s the kind of place where I can showcase my talents, where we’ve automatically matched jobs against you so, we’ve got about 2.5 million jobs on the site. If you put in your skills on your profile you won’t go searching for jobs like you would on a jobs site, you get automatically presented with jobs that match your skillset.”

What technology do you use in matching user’s skillsets to jobs?

“The reality is we use word sequences and word pairs that are appropriate. If you’re a software developer we’ll also match you to jobs like programmer and so on and so forth. So it’s pretty straightforward stuff; we can only match you with the data that we get from the people that have the jobs to give. Typically the matching is very good.”

Worky has members in 150 countries, but acknowledges that the company has not yet made a big push outside Ireland, citing profile membership at, “sub-100,000 for sure, but ask me in six months!” Citing his success with HostelWorld, Ray sees no reason why such success can’t be repeated, “That’s the scale of our ambition.”

“People typically in Linkedin world are collecting connections as if they’re meaningful, but they’re not, they’re less and less meaningful as you get outside what is a typical business network. While I might have met 5,000 people during my business career of 20 years, how many of those am I going to call? Not that many is the short answer. So we feel that with Worky we’ve got a Facebook kind of feel to it.

“We absolutely believe in the separation of your Facebook life and your Worky life. Because if you don’t then you run the risk that someone finds something on your Facebook profile, where they’ll see that, “gosh, he also likes to dance naked on bars at parties.” So the separation between your work life and social life has to be there.

“There’s no reason why you can’t build a career network or a career place to extol your virtues and your talents. You have a right to do that, everybody has.”