US tech firm Workrise couldn't wait to 'tell world how excited we are to be in Belfast'

  • Photo: Praveen Kalamegham, Head of Engineering at Workrise

    Many top technology cities in the US have become highly competitive, with a higher demand for software engineers and ancillary specialists within that space.

    However, the supply of people able to fulfil these roles hasn’t drastically increased, and it’s been incumbent for companies that aren’t the typical tech giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook, to spread out across the world to find that IT talent.

    That’s what brought Workrise to Belfast, according to the workforce management firm’s Head of Engineering, Praveen Kalamegham.

    “I was part of a leadership team that brought another company to Belfast successfully so I know the community and the talent,” he told Sync NI.

    After bringing an executive team over to Northern Ireland’s capital back in November 2019, Workrise knew that Belfast was the place for their new tech engineering centre, although the Covid-19 pandemic set back their plans for a while.

    Nonetheless, 21 months later, and the Austin-headquartered company has announced that it will be creating 153 tech jobs in Northern Ireland over the next four years.

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    With around 30 of the roles already in place and recruitment continuing for more, Praveen noted Workrise’s enthusiasm in being able to now “tell the world about how excited we are to be here.”

    He added that the business plans on building “a fully-fledged site from fresh graduates, all the way through to principal engineers; from team leads all the way through to VP level leadership; from engineering to spreading into product management and design”.

    “Our goal is to build fully autonomous teams that own a significant and critical piece of the mission, and to do that, they need to have all of those rich composites of skillsets. We know the talent is there and we’re keen to attract it.”

    Workrise began its journey back in 2014 more in the upstream oil and gas spaces, and have since expanded to renewable solar and wind industries, as well as construction.

    The business uses its full-service technological workforce solution, to match skilled labour contractors with companies in those sectors that require staff for time bound projects.

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    “It's hard to necessarily draw a through line,” Praveen added. “Workrise is about the workers and we’re one of the largest marketplaces for skilled labour in North America.

    “And our goal is empowering those workers by providing economic opportunity and liquidity in these markets for them to be able to find high-paying jobs and have continuity of that, and progression of that job and upward mobility.

    "So when we're looking at it from that lens, we're focused on: 'What are the skill sets required for those roles? How do we facilitate that? How do we make sure that they are finding those roles and finding success in those roles?' But the focus is always on the worker and their mobility. 

    “And so it very much makes sense for us to expand into renewables because the world needs to expand into renewables.

    "That transition is not going to be like a light switch overnight. That’s going to be felt most keenly by those people doing the hard work in these industries.”

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    The coronavirus crisis caused a large part of Workrise’s business to “disappear overnight”, as Praveen puts it, with the price of oil going negative and uncertainty looming at the then foreseeable future.

    However, he believes that because the organisation had began diversifying into the renewables market in 2019, this move was strengthened further by the pandemic, and noted that it “allowed us to build on our resiliency”.

    Back in May of this year, the company – once known as RigUp - announced it had raised $300m in a Series E round led by UK-based Baillie Gifford that now values the company at $2.9 billion.

    “Workrise is coming out the other side with far more resiliency, far better balance and a much cleaner idea of what our identity is going forward,” Praveen concluded.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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