Featured Article 24 Apr 2014

Last year Mandiant made global headlines when it published a report identifying nation-states responsible for cyber attacks against a series of prominent targets. A few months previously the US company announced 100 jobs at its EMEA site in Dublin, which carries out technology development, security operations and strategic consulting. It joins a growing cohort of infosecurity companies establishing here. Paul C Dwyer, director of strategic solutions at Mandiant, explains…

What made Ireland attractive to Mandiant?

There’s a queue of companies still coming into Ireland and many of them are in the security space, so my hat is off to the IDA because their strategy is working. If we look at the statistics, the top 10 technology companies are all in Ireland. Mandiant works with global players, so if they are based here, that instantly makes Ireland attractive. The tax rate wasn’t one of the main drivers.

So this way you’re close to a lot of your customers?

The US invests more in Ireland than it does in Brazil, Russia, India and China combined, so as a country, Ireland is very important to America from that point of view. The reality is, organisations are getting compromised every single day. So, it’s very comforting for these companies coming to Ireland to see a brand like Mandiant.

Our products and services form part of the required ecosystem for these companies to operate. We’re helping people to detect, respond to and contain highly sophisticated attacks. We’re like firefighters – we help put the fires out, but at the same time we’re in the smoke detection business, helping reduce the sort of damage that can come from these attacks. Our strategic consulting division works hand in hand with the internal resources of our clients so that we can help reduce the likelihood of successful breaches and mitigate the conseqences. We build long-term relationships with all our clients, which brings expansion for the business and our new Dublin base supports this growth.

How has the settling-in period been going so far since announcing the move to Ireland in late 2012?

We’re a good bit down the road towards 100 jobs and we continue to augment our own internal processes so we can speed up the recruitment cycle. Thanks and appreciation goes to my colleague [Managing Director of Engineering] Tom Keating for organising an appropriate HQ for Mandiant. Quite honestly, if I had a blank page, I couldn’t pick a better office for what we’re doing. We’re walking distance from a lot of clients, there are lots of amenities nearby and we’re close to the airport.

Are there enough qualified security professionals in the local recruitment market for what you need?

One of the motivators for coming to Ireland is the talent, but the reality is that there are simply not enough cybersecurity specialists in the world, and there is a kind of bidding war. Also, we do grow our own talent. Mandiant believes in collaboration not just with industry but internally. It’s an amazing environment to work in with a great positive vibe of everyone sharing knowledge.

I’ve often thought, if you take a network manager or IT manager with several years’ experience, they could hit a bootcamp-style course in security and become very attractive to security companies – not just Mandiant. It’s very difficult at the moment to pick the right course to go into a career in cybersecurity by up-skilling and being re-educated, but I’ve had discussions with the likes of the National College of Ireland who were open to the idea and agreed to help out.

Have you needed to hire from outside Ireland, and do recruits need much persuasion to relocate here?

My preference is always to hire locally. However, at the moment, I’m currently looking at arrangements like Open Ireland, the initiative by [technology entrepreneur] Sean O’Sullivan about arranging work visas for people you need to hire, to be able to fast-track people moving from other countries.

I get lots of people contacting me, saying they want to come to Ireland. I think the location is a plus point; it’s a quality of life issue. The people who work in this industry tend to work in big urban sprawls and you get the best of both worlds in Ireland. You have a high level of lifestyle, and you can travel easily from here at the weekends – younger people who want to go and explore Europe can hop on a plane and go anywhere. Logistically, we certainly have a lot of advantages here in Dublin.

Is there any area where Ireland Inc needs to raise its game for working with multinationals?

The piece we’re lacking is gluing it all together and communicating it: let’s join up all of the strong pieces into a good story. We’ve got some great indigenous companies that should be on a panel of recommended suppliers – to give a list to help companies’ integration to Ireland. It creates an atmosphere that we’re all working together for the same thing. When an American company comes here, in many cases they’re faced with a blank page: where do we find law firms, accountancy firms, PR firms? Companies are in start-up mode when they come here, no matter how big they are – they’re start-ups: just with a big bank balance.

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