Frequently over the last few months, Ireland and its low corporation tax rate have been the focus of the international business media. Ireland has over 1,000 foreign companies based on the ground.
Ireland has a heavy footprint of highly profitable, multinational technology companies and many in the sector refer to Dublin as the "Silicon Valley of Europe."
It is a fact that Ireland has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU, but Ireland (and its people) have a lot more to offer than just a strategy to maximise profits.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn and HubSpot (to name just a few) have all made Dublin the hub of their European operations. But, apart from a low tax environment, what does Ireland have to offer the International Technology Sector? In 2012, foreign companies employed over 260,000 people and all indicators predict that number to be increased in 2013.
So I would like to lend my voice to this debate. I would like to make a case for what Ireland brings to the table, on top of the attractive 12.5% corporation tax rate.
I don't work directly within the Technology Sector, but I run an organization that supplies service to some of the largest Technology Organizations that have a base here. A frequent component of my work involves dealing with key-management within the sector. From my vantage point, one thing is powerfully apparent.
The Irish are highly regarded for having a natural talent for Sales & Marketing. In fact, a very strong percentage of the workforce employed by the Technology sector work within the Sales & Marketing disciplines. So is this a case of the Irish living up to their stereotypical "charm" that gives the indigenous population the edge on the salesmanship front? Or is there something deeper routed in the nation's psyche that could be a factor?
Author Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" to date has sold over 15 million copies. At the core of this book there is an interesting theme, which is that effective selling is quite akin to good storytelling. Storytelling really is at the very heart of Irish traditions. In fact, much of Ireland's history and folklore was passed through the generations, not by written record, but by the "Seanchaithe" (which is the Irish word for historian). Within each Family/Tribe, the Chief would nominate an official storyteller who would be tasked with keeping the members up on all current events. So storytelling is something ingrained into the Irish, I think this makes the natives effective at conveying and comprehending concepts/ideas and natural communicators.
Another selling point about Ireland and the Irish workforce is our Education system. As a means to stimulate the Economy a few decades ago, the Irish Government introduced free education (for all EU Citizens). This dramatically increased the numbers of Graduates into the workforce. Other major European languages are taught all through the schooling system. So today the country can boost a dynamic, well educated, multilingual workforce, which does create the perfect conditions for Multinational Technology Companies to choose the Island has its European base.
In my opinion, the reinvestment and further commitment of the Tech giants in Ireland, speaks volumes. I recently spoke to HubSpot's CEO - Brian Halligan about what he likes about doing business in Ireland, he told me "People come to Ireland to explore taxation, but stay/grow because of the awesome workforce. HubSpot opened a sales office but have been so impressed with the Irish workforce, we have opened a support center and are developing new products there".
If it was purely a favorable tax rate we had to offer, then companies could have bases here without the significant commitment and recommitment to local employment. Ireland is well positioned in the West of Europe; we have flight access to all of the major European cities with no more than few hours commute. I urge any Executive considering an expansion into the European Markets to consider Ireland as a strategic base. We have allot to offer and I haven't even mentioned the Guinness (we keep the best stuff for ourselves).