'Our Irish hub is driven by access to great talent' - Tipp man leading innovation at global tech firm VMware
Ireland represents a vital hub for technology firms and is integral to VMware’s global strategy, according to its chief technology officer.
Last October, Ray O’Farrell was appointed to lead Dell’s new IoT division, which plans to spend $1bn on research and development over the next three years.
Hailing from Templemore in Tipperary, Ray's rise to the board of one of the world’s largest tech companies began with an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Limerick.
Speaking at Dublin Tech Summit 2018 (DTS18) at the Dublin Convention Centre (DCC), Ray spoke to delegates about 'How to remain innovative and relevant'.
He also told Independent.ie that VMware’s commitment to Ireland goes beyond him.
"There are close to 1,000 people at our site in Cork and it's a very important part of what we do. It was one of the first, if not the first, site we had outside of the US," he said.
"This has been a very key part of what we do today; most of our support organisation filters through Cork. We produce business critical software so that support is incredibly vital.
"This is a good place for us to find talent, not all of it from Ireland. Our engineering hub in Ireland is driven by that access to talent, it's very positive."
Since VMware opened its first Irish office in Cork in August 2005, its operations here have grown from 10 employees to more than 750, with the company currently operating six offices across the country – five in Cork, and a sales office in Dublin.
After embarking on an "adventure" to the US with his wife, who had an American visa, some 26 years ago, Ray worked with startups for over a decade in Silicon Valley before joining VMware.
"There was less than 200 people in the company at the time, and it was moving into the system software space where I had a lot of experience. I worked on lots of different roles there, always on engineering, on the project.
"A few years ago I pivoted more into the CTO role which involved more than managing the day-to-day engineering teams. I was looking more towards what is the innovation agenda of the company from a technology point of view."
Ray said that there are two big things that are happening across the industry at the moment; how to leverage new ways of using cloud, and how to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution and the IoT.
This involves embedding technology within society and understanding out to leverage innovation to deal with the rate of changes in the landscape.
He outlined four ways companies could embrace this "culture of possibility".
*Drive. The ability to consistently execute no matter what your recent successes have been. Your customers expectations keep rising all the time.
*Diversity of thought. Different ideas - sometimes when you're trying to deal with a disruption, it is sometimes that outlandish idea within that is actually the kernel of how you're going to deal with this new competitor.
*Partnerships. Rather than look at a different space in the tech industry and say 'oh we don't do that', look to partner with other companies so you're not left behind. Everything is now an ecosystem.
*Resilience. Be able to deal with the unexpected things, in term of an industry shift, or a competitive move.