Dell boss open to Belfast growth following its merger with EMC
IT giant Dell could expand its Belfast operation and grow its presence in Northern Ireland despite the looming impact of Brexit, one of its top bosses has said.
Limerick man Aongus Hegarty is president of Dell EMC for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "We are in the Titanic Quarter. It's a small team of specialists, our sales team.
"Part of my trip is to look at Belfast as a location, potentially, for Dell EMC business going forward.
"I think it's a great place to do business.
"We do a lot of work with Queen's University, Ulster University. There are a lot of great skills here.
"We have quite an extensive graduate recruitment programme. We have graduates joining us from different universities across our locations.
"It's very much in those areas. Our services could be around the technical side of the organisation, or could be around some of the business functional areas," he added.
"For me, it's about spending some time about understanding the opportunities.
"We are a privately-controlled company now, so we are planning two, three or four years out, and thinking what that could be.
"We have a strong presence in three major cities on the island. This (Belfast) is the second largest city on the island, so why not here as well."
Mr Hegarty is responsible for around 20,000 workers across the firm.
Dell EMC employs around 5,500 staff across Ireland, including manufacturing in Cork, support services, e-commerce, finance, marketing and HR across several sites.
And on the topic of the UK vote to leave the EU, Mr Hegarty said: "I think for us, Brexit has an impact from a UK perspective.
"I think on the initial impact, you have seen some currency devaluation, which is clearly making products and services that are being imported, more expensive, and technology would fit in that realm.
"We hedge our currencies, so we are able to ease our way into adjustments with our customers.
"For Northern Ireland and across the UK, that devaluation in currency means competitiveness from an export perspective.
"So there's an opportunity to accelerate growth in the UK economy, in export led, particularly services-based, businesses."
Dell is also involved with the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in Belfast.
"The initiative is to work with companies in the very early start-up period or migrating to developing companies," he said.
Dell EMC works with some of Northern Ireland's largest private sector firms, such as Moy Park, as well as government and other areas in the public sector.
The company aims to improve and develop IT, in areas such as creating a more "mobile" workforce, and allowing staff to work out of the office and from home.
"Areas like mobility, enabling the workforce from a mobile perspective," Mr Hegarty said.
He said calls for a "fluidity of movement" between Northern Ireland and the Republic are key following Brexit. And he added: "I think the overall economy of the island can benefit from that ability to have the type of flexibility of movement.
"But Northern Ireland and the UK economy is a wider economy... the competitiveness of a location like Belfast from a services perspective to business beyond Belfast and beyond Northern Ireland as well."
A deal was agreed earlier in the year which saw Dell and EMC come together under a new umbrella company, Dell Technologies.
The $67bn (£57bn) merger is the biggest in tech history and sees VMWare, Pivotal, Secureworks, RSA and Virtustream enter into the new entity.
Earlier this month it was reported that Dell EMC is to shed jobs at its Cork base following its merger.