New IDA recruits talk about pitching Ireland abroad. Above: Sarah Compton in Chicago.IDA

How do you go about convincing companies around the world with zero presence in Ireland that it’s something they really should consider?

Find a group of smart, young influencers to make them change their minds.

Last May, IDA Ireland, the agency in charge of direct foreign investment, sent out a call for 35 new hires to helm the new “Winning Abroad” initiative in Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Mountain View, Irvine, London, Frankfurt, Paris, Tokyo, Mumbai, Bangalore, Shanghai, Sydney and at HQ in Dublin.

The initiative, funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation under the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, is a three year program aimed at securing 10,000 new job for Ireland. The young ambassadors are charged with marketing Ireland’s value and range of advantages as a location for inward investment to international companies across high value manufacturing, R&D and global business services.

So, how’s it going? IrishCentral caught up with a few of the IDA recruits pitching Ireland across the US.


Sarah Compton (above), 25, Marketing Analyst for the Life Sciences and Food division of IDA in North America, is pitching Ireland in Chicago.

Born in Tennessee, she spent her early childhood in Mississippi and North Carolina until her family moved to a little farm in an extremely rural part of West Cork when she was 12. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from TCD and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from UCD, Sarah joined IDA from Dublin Bus and an Irish tech startup called CityHook.

How she’s pitching Ireland:

“The Ireland I know is extremely welcoming, culturally familiar to Americans, and at the forefront of technology and innovation. I absolutely fell in love with Ireland when we moved there and I always try to convey just how easy it was to adapt to my new country.”

The reactions she’s seen so far:

“A lot of people here have Irish ancestors so they will know already about Irish culture – once they hear about the successes other companies have had in Ireland, our education system, and the caliber of research and development that is happening in Ireland at the moment… it’s not too hard of a sell!”

Her goals for the three years:

“Get as many jobs for Ireland as possible! It’s going to be really exciting and rewarding watching companies starting up new operations in Ireland and knowing that I’ve had a hand in bringing them overseas.”

Biggest surprise thus far:

“Personally, I’m really surprised that I feel more Irish than American! It’s been so interesting reconnecting with the US after 13 years abroad, little things like getting used to calling crisps “chips” again and having to specify that I want “hot tea.” The sheer enthusiasm Chicagoans have for Ireland is also a nice surprise.”

Sillicon Valley

Alan McGlinchey, 26, is part of the tech team for IDA’s Silicon Valley office in Mountain View, California. Originally from Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, he has a B.A in Finance & Accounting from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He helps West Coast and Mountain State companies establish a presence in Ireland, grow their European market base and support their international customers.

How he’s pitching Ireland

“The pitch is based on the availability of skilled talent in Ireland, our excellent track record with previous clients, the business-friendly environment and the ease of access to the European market. The key is to understand who I’m talking to; who the company is, where they fit within the broader industry and what challenges they face. I try to find out what the company’s needs are, what concerns they might have, and what their short-medium and long term objectives are.

“When the client is satisfied they have all the information they need, it’s time to get them on a plane to Ireland, where our team sets up a tailored series of meetings across the country. Once our potential clients have witnessed first-hand the success and energy of companies who have already set up in Ireland, the business case begins to stack up.”

The responses so far:

“Very positive. My current focus is on semiconductor companies and companies based out of Colorado. There is a lot of activity in the semiconductor industry right now with the development of the internet of things, wearable devices and growth in data centers and mobile. There is a continued drive for smaller, smarter and more power-efficient chips, which has led to a proliferation of really interesting companies in this space, many of whom are experiencing excellent growth. This creates an opportunity to further strengthen the existing base of companies in Ireland and develop the country’s research capabilities.”

His goals for the three years:

“As a business development professional and promoter of Ireland, my primary objective is to attract companies to Ireland and win as many investments as possible. While striving to achieve this objective, I want to become a highly effective IDA team member, delivering a valuable and highly professional service at every step of the journey. Of course, I also plan to have some fun along the way!”

Biggest surprise so far:

I spent two and a half years in Toronto with an Irish enterprise cloud company before joining the IDA team here in Mountain View. I am continually surprised by the amount of goodwill and generosity I experienced in Toronto - and now in California and Colorado - from the Irish community. I believe this is a distinctly Irish trait which has been invaluable to me in both my professional and personal life and which I am very grateful for.


Sean Storan (left), 34, from Salthill, Galway. Sean is based out of IDA’s newest office in Austin, Texas located just down the street from the Texas Capital building, where we share space with the new Irish Consulate. His focus is promoting Ireland as a destination for direct foreign investment to more established American technology companies, from companies that have recently decided to expand into the global market to others that already have a presence in Europe and in Ireland.

How he’s pitching Ireland:

We are thrilled to have a new office in Texas, and, in these early stages, we are mainly focusing on building long lasting relationships. We are letting Texas know that we have boots on the ground, that we are here to stay, and that Ireland is the best choice for companies when expanding globally. I strongly believe that when US companies expand into Ireland they also win at home here in the US.

What’s like to be representing Ireland in this way:

I feel very fortunate to represent Ireland in this way. I truly believe that when I’m in the marketplace, conducting day-to-day business, that I am an ambassador of our great country and the decisions I make not only affect myself and IDA but Ireland as a whole. I am proud of the fact that I will be contributing to investment into Ireland and in turn creating jobs. We have all at one point in our life been “out of a job,” and knowing that the work I do here in the US will provide jobs to my fellow countrymen is one of the biggest reasons I decided to work at IDA.

Gerard Hayes (right), 35, from Galway, is currently based in Austin, Texas, where he serves as VP of Business Development with IDA Ireland’s Emerging Business Division.

How he’s pitching Ireland:

Ireland's offer includes a strong talent pool, excellent track record, connected technology infrastructure and an attractive corporate tax rate.

His goals for the three years:

I hope to contribute to the Irish economy by adding jobs and supporting new US companies set up and expand their operations in Europe via Ireland.

Biggest surprise thus far:

I am surprised on a regular basis by the innovative and creative start-up and emerging businesses in Texas. The technology eco system is thriving here and the future is an evolving and exciting world to be a part of.

Irvine, CA

Michelle Loughran (nee Gilbourne), 32, is originally from Dublin but has lived in LA for nine years. With her Bachelor of Commerce from UCD, her Masters in Marketing Practice from Michael Smurfit Business School, and her years of experience working in advertising and finance, she’s connecting IDA with emerging business (mainly high growth technology start-ups) in Southern California, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver.

How she’s pitching Ireland:

“I focus on earlier stage companies as opposed to larger multinationals, so the relationship is typically less formal even though it is at a senior level. I really try to understand the business that they are in and advise on how their peers have approached Europe – offering guidance and intros rather than a heavy sales pitch. The network and relationship-building is very important and it’s really a matter of getting out there and attending conferences & events and creating awareness of the Irish value proposition and sharing our success stories.

“For these rapidly growing companies, they are mainly interested in scaling and hiring. Therefore the “Why Ireland” pitch is more about promoting the amazing talent, the highly educated workforce, the close cultural ties with the US, ease of doing business, access to the EU market and of course the caliber of current client companies in Ireland e.g. LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and the smaller ones that are scaling rapidly like Zendesk, Nitro, AirBnB, New Relic.”

The response so far:

“As we’re a free service I find it easy to chat to people and they are open to listening – the accent definitely helps and the fact that there is a bit of Irish in almost every American!”

Her goals for the three years:

“Jobs, jobs, jobs and some more jobs in Ireland – and have fun while doing it! It starts with spreading the word about Ireland and what the country has to offer so when the time is right for companies to internationalize we will be at the forefront of their minds.

“One of the ways we do this is at conferences like ‘SXSW Interactive’ which happened last week in Austin, Texas. We had informative panel sessions and fun networking events, including cheering on the Ireland’s rugby team as they took on Wales -

What it’s like to be representing Ireland in this way:

Honestly, it feels great to be so far away and still have the strong connection to home by promoting the homeland and the Irish people and know that in some small way we’re helping create exciting opportunities for our friends there.

New York

David Jones, 33, from Dublin, is based in New York City as part of IDA’s Global Technology Team. A a graduate of UCD Michael Smurfit Business School with a Masters in Management, he focuses on high value, technology rich investments that will enhance Ireland’s reputation as a leading location for global business and works on long-term, sustainable investments from leading corporate investors on the East Coast of North America.

How he’s pitching Ireland:

“In the conversations I am having with US multinationals, they are looking for a country location that suits their business needs and my role is to inform them how Ireland can provide a unique location for this. This conversation generally centers on Ireland’s track record in FDI, our membership of the Eurozone, a young dynamic talent pool and our competitive 12.5% corporation tax rate. All these factors combined create a world class value proposition, which is borne out by the level of existing US multinationals who have already chosen Ireland for their strategically important global operations, such as; Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Analog Devices, EMC2, Apple and Google.”

His goals for the three years:

“While here, I hope to speak with as many C-level Executives in companies and identify job creating opportunities for Ireland. As part of the Global Technology Team, I hope to play my part in a return of 10,000 jobs over the three years of the program from those investments. In keeping with current IDA strategy, it is also a goal that these investments be directed at Regional areas.

“On a personal level, I am very interested in sport. Having completed the Dublin City Marathon, I have now set my sights on the NYC Marathon in November 2015. I have also started some volunteer work with a local charity in New York City and that has been very rewarding.”

What it’s it like to be representing Ireland in this way:

“I am extremely proud and honored to have the opportunity to work for IDA Ireland. To represent Ireland abroad in such an exciting and growing sector such as Technology is incredibly interesting, but to do that from New York City is a career milestone for me. I also find the role quite humbling when I speak with my own Irish-American family in Queens, New York and so many other Irish-Americans within the business sector who hold onto generations old stories of emigration. I am struck at how that emigration has resulted in a now very special connection between Ireland and the USA. From my previous career in Dublin, I witnessed the direct positive impact this success has on local communities in terms of direct job creation and indirect jobs through linkages.”