Evros Technology Group has always been about much more than IT. Started in Ireland, the business represents the coming together of minds capable of always staying one step ahead of technology – whatever its stage of evolution. And it’s that ability to capture, revolutionise and transform that has always given its founders the proficiency to empower their customers to do more.
30 years in business, they’re still leading the way in digital transformation on a global scale.
In May 2019, the company successfully expanded to New Zealand as part of its Follow-The-Sun initiative.
Auckland Country and Service Delivery Manager, Gary Corley, headed up the expansion. One year on, we caught up with him to find out what it’s like to take a company from a national to an international scale.
Why did Evros see a need to expand to New Zealand?
Two main reasons: Firstly, our night shift was proving difficult to staff and manage given the unsociable hours of the job (it’s a tough shift to work) and the IT skills shortage in Ireland.
Secondly, we saw the value in future proofing and growing the business by providing round the clock services to an expanding customer base on both sides of the equator, many of whom have a global presence.
Why New Zealand? What were the benefits of setting up shop in Auckland?
Obviously, the time difference is a key factor. Also, it’s an English-speaking country with a multicultural population which gives us lots of options when it comes to multilingual support. Auckland has a great selection of talent from highly regarded universities and an influx of skilled labour from across Australasia. It’s also an attractive option when recruiting staff in Ireland. We got great support from Enterprise Ireland from the very beginning and they have been with us every step of the way. On the NZ side ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) have really helped us find our feet and these two supports have complemented each other very well.
From a social and team building perspective, anyone who has ever been to New Zealand will tell you of the similarities with Ireland: the people, the culture, the love of sport. Despite the distance, there has always been a great connection between the two countries and the Irish are well received here. One thing that’s very different though is the climate. This place is one big summer playground for nine months of the year (If you’re into that sort of thing)
Can you describe some of the initial challenges you encountered in moving to NZ? What did you need to consider?
Moving to a new country so far from home will always throw up some unexpected challenges and stuff you can never fully plan for. We were taken aback by the Auckland winter and had to find innovative ways to warm the office and our homes. There was record rainfall in August and we only had one day in the whole month when it didn’t rain. In fairness to the guys, they have embraced the challenges and are thriving down here. We “wintered well” as they say at home, and we are now enjoying the blue skies and sunshine of the Kiwi summer.
Who was the first contact you made in New Zealand?
We had done quite a bit of planning and preparation beforehand and had established some good contacts in advance. On arrival to our accommodation, each of us had a welcome pack waiting for us, kindly provided by a recruitment company we share a building with in Parnell, an upmarket suburb not far from Auckland CBD. After 36 hours of travel it was nice to be able to put the kettle on and have a Tim-Tam.
Did you set up everything up in Ireland or was there a lot of travel back and forth to New Zealand to put things in place?
We had the office space and temporary accommodation sorted. Brian Larkin (MD at Evros) travelled to Auckland and arranged that early in 2019. When we moved into the office it was empty. We had the bare basics and we spent the first days re-wiring plugs, moving desks, getting cutlery and kitchen equipment and generally trying to find our way around the city.
Ciaran and I travelled together and arrived in Auckland on the last Saturday in May. We met up with Renan and Walter in what’s now become our local pub, the Andrew Andrew on Quay Street. A pint in Andrew Andrew is part of our initiation ceremony for anyone who has arrived since!
We were up and running by Monday and shut down the night shift in Dublin the following week. We carried out a Proof of Concept before leaving so we were in a good place and ready to roll. We already had comms installed and had tested those before we arrived. We actually tested our VDI at 35,000 feet somewhere over Kazakhstan en-route to Auckland!
Have you lived abroad before and what’s it like living in New Zealand?
I’ve lived in a few places – I’m part-nomad. I had been to NZ in 2002 as a backpacker and travelled around the place for two months. Having spent the previous seven months in Oz, NZ felt more like home and I promised myself I would return – I didn’t think it would be 17 years later!
No different to anywhere else – it takes some time to settle. If you are into the outdoors, New Zealand is probably one of the best places in the world to live. It’s safe, stunningly beautiful, the produce is great, and the people are friendly with a grá for the Irish. There’s no real pub scene so socially it’s very different to home. That takes time to get used to but it’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.
Is there anything about Ireland that you miss?
Of course, I miss my family and friends. When you’re a long way from home you realise how much you take for granted. I miss the sport from home and of course as soon as I leave the country, Liverpool will go and win the league. Hopefully Monaghan will go and win the All-Ireland but I’d probably go home for that!
How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to the official opening of the new office? What was the most time-consuming part of it all?
We had our official opening on October 10th 2019, but we were in operation from the end of May. I’m not entirely sure when the idea to set up an office on the other side of the world was first conceived but I first heard about it in August 2018.
Now that the office is up and running, what feedback have you had from customers and staff?
Overall, it has been very successful. The time difference doesn’t allow us much airtime with customers, at least not for the purposes of getting feedback, but it has provided a real sense of continuity and support for all the stakeholders involved. Customers appreciate the premium levels of support available to them around the clock now and our technical staff in NZ are as good as any I’ve worked with previously. This means our engineers in Ireland can rest easy when their working day finishes. Being able to deliver project work 24/7 also allows quick turnaround time on projects — many of which are only deliverable outside of the clients’ hours of business — and our customers love that.
How do you see the Auckland offices developing over the next couple of years?
The investment here is considerable and once we are comfortable with the Irish workload, we will look at expanding our service into local markets. The NZ market is very similar to Ireland, albeit without the EU influence and the large multinational presence. Our offerings are extremely portable and having researched our competitors here I’m confident our level of service will exceed what’s currently available. If you look at our capacity as a global player with an extensive and flexible range of offerings it has to be attractive to the Australasian market, in particular those with a global footprint.
What was the most challenging part of the expansion?
While the time difference is our biggest advantage here, it’s also the biggest challenge. Collaboration and communications are key to the operations. Technology helps and we have embraced many new tools, but you just can’t beat a face-to-face chat or a good old chinwag to maintain trust and cooperation between teams. Both the Irish and the New Zealand teams have had to work hard on this, and it will always provide some unique challenges. It has required a change in the way we have traditionally thought about and conducted our operations. Our teams have had to build relations with their IE or NZ counterparts, and it takes time to build that trust. Like any long-distance relationship, it can only work with constant communication, collaboration and a joint commitment to succeed. This is a continual point of focus for us.
Now that you’re settled in your new role, what do you love most about your job?
It’s an absolute buzz for me to work with all the different nationalities and personalities. It’s very interesting to build a team from all corners of the world and watch it take on its own identity and persona. Then each time someone new is added, it changes again. I get a kick out of watching how the younger guys in the group approach something. It’s great to be able to help them out from time to time but frightening at the same time to realise how old I am. My accent is fairly strong, and I get daily reminders from my new friends. I was recently asked (and not for the first time) what version of English we speak in Ireland!
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