Two weeks ago, I spent a few days doing all the things you’d expect a tourist visiting Ireland to do. I drank more Guinness and Bushmills than I’d prefer to admit. I risked my life driving on the left side of the road (and the right side of a five-speed Nissan that was just barely big enough to hold my suitcase). And I damn near fell off a cliff trying to snap the perfect picture (it was worth it).
But I also had the chance to immerse myself in an incredible culture that blew me away with its history, benevolence, pragmatism, and incredible intellectual depth.
I met a crafty entrepreneur who’s founded two successful companies, but possesses the humility of a man just learning his craft. I met a young female engineer whose parents passed away when she was a teenager — and who, in spite of that challenge, raised her younger sister and put herself through college. And I met a 20-something recent graduate of Queen’s University who, according to his peers, has the brains of Mark Zuckerberg, but would never admit it.
The best part: All of those people are part of a team who — in case you missed the news — will play a huge role in shaping SmashFly’s future. They are part of our team.
Welcome to Belfast: SmashFly’s European Home
That’s right, folks. SmashFly’s going global.
Last week, SmashFly officially announced the first step in its global expansion with a new hub in Belfast, Northern Ireland — a hub funded in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland, an agency tasked with identifying high-growth foreign companies and bringing them to Belfast to grow the local economy.
Initially, this office will be focused on engineering and product development, enabling our team to support SmashFly’s rapidly growing global customer base and accelerate development of new product features. Specifically, this team will focus on features that leverage machine learning and interactive intelligence, and further strengthen GDPR compliance.
But I want to be clear: This isn’t just another offshore back-office or coding boiler room.
In fact, we chose Belfast specifically and strategically for its diversity of talent, proximity to the rest of Europe, and cultural alignment with SmashFly. Eventually, this office will be 70 strong and comprised of sales, marketing, operations, and engineering people who define our future in EMEA. Here, SmashFly CEO Thom Kenney explains why Belfast was the right place to begin that journey:
What Does this Mean for SmashFly’s Future?
It’s simple, really: We can grow a lot faster. And we can help our customers grow faster by delivering innovation more quickly and efficiently than ever before.
But it’s not just about growth for growth’s sake. It’s about purposeful, strategic growth — and growth through a team whose personal and professional values underpin and augment the corporate values we hold dear. The same values that drive our team in Concord — and in all of our remote offices (coming at you from Detroit!) — every single day.
I saw these values firsthand during my time in Belfast. It started with HR and Business Operations Manager Sinéad McStravick-Kelly stepping in to play professional cat herder and PR coordinator during a series of media interviews with The Irish Times, BBC, and Belfast Telegraph. And it continued with Christopher Graham, a software engineer who’d been on the job for about a week, pointing out a small tweak in our code that could have a big impact on user experience.
And those are just a couple of the examples I remember (see: Guinness and Bushmills).
The bottom line: This office — and the team that will lead it — marks the beginning of a new era for SmashFly. An era that, as SmashFly’s Belfast Site Lead Gareth McCullough put it, “will shape all of us — probably in ways we haven’t imagined.”
You see, SmashFly’s mission has always been to transform how companies find and connect with talent. When this team — and our team back home in the US — fulfills that mission, I have no doubt that the future of how we find and fill jobs (and keep the best people in those jobs) will fundamentally change for the better.