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Louise Phelan of PayPal

Louise Phelan of PayPal

Louise Phelan of PayPal

Louise Phelan is one of the international payment industry's most influential figures and a key player in the Irish business sector.

As vice-president of global operations for PayPal in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, she leads 2,600 people in Dublin, Dundalk and Berlin.

And she's encouraging tech staff in Northern Ireland to apply for jobs at PayPal's burgeoning Dundalk base in the Republic.

Ms Phelan is one of the top speakers at this year's Digital DNA event in Belfast.

And she says the event "is a great networking opportunity for speakers and delegates alike".

"Digital DNA is a great networking opportunity for speakers and delegates alike," she said. "I will be speaking about the 'Future of Money' and PayPal's vision to democratise financial services so that managing and moving money is a right for all citizens, not just the affluent. We believe that now is the time to re-imagine the future of money and I'll be explaining how we intend to do just that.

She's also a non-executive director at Ryanair, a member of the board of directors of VoxPro and a former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.

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And while there are no plans to open up in Northern Ireland, Ms Phelan wants people here to apply for jobs across the border.

"PayPal employs 2,500 people in Ireland and we will grow that number to 3,000 by 2018. We have two centres of excellence one in Dublin and one in Dundalk. We have no plans for an investment in Northern Ireland at present, but we offer great opportunities to people who want to build a career in PayPal and continue to live in Northern Ireland, particularly at our Dundalk site."

Her route to the top in technology has been unconventional. One of 17 children from Co Laois, she qualified as a paediatric nurse but soon discovered that it wasn't the right job for her. Instead, she studied law, economics and credit management before joining Mars Ireland, then Woodchester Bank, which was then acquired by GE Money, a division of General Electric. She worked there for 16 years until head-hunted by PayPal.

She's found her vocation and is excited to be part of a finance revolution. Asked about Northern Ireland and the Republic's own burgeoning tech sectors, and the incoming lower rate of corporation tax, she said: "The Republic of Ireland has developed strong links with the US. That has helped attract foreign direct investment into the country.

"The availability of talent and a competitive business climate were the factors in attracting foreign direct investment.

"The mantra in the American Chamber of Commerce has been that Ireland offers both talent and competitiveness. Promoting the fact that Northern Ireland offers a well-educated, English speaking workforce will be critical to its ability to grow its multinational sector."

Speaking about how PayPal is continuing to stay ahead of the pack, Ms Phelan said: "PayPal operates at the fore of the payments industry. It is a fast paced, ever-changing field, so it's vital to keep ahead off the latest developments in payment technology.

"We are constantly developing new technologies, making strategic acquisitions and listening to the needs of our 184 million active customers in 200 markets around the world."

And she says firms wanting to get ahead in the competitive tech world should "future-proof" their business strategy.

"In terms of payments, that means offering innovative and streamlined processes. PayPal's mobile payment specialist company Braintree, for example, powers millions of mobile and online payments for some of the world's fastest growing and most innovative companies, including Uber, Airbnb and Hotel Tonight."


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