Belfast Telegraph

Technology titan plans to grow 'highly educated' city workforce

By Heather McGarrigle

Global science technology giant The Dow Chemical Company received over 150 applications in its latest Northern Ireland recruitment drive.

Interviews began on Monday to find six new members of staff for the company's Belfast site, which at the moment employs five people.

Dow announced its arrival in Northern Ireland at the US-NI Economic Conference in Washington DC in October last year.

The company, which had annual sales of $53.7bn (£34bn) in 2010, provides a range of technology-based solutions to industries including electronics, water, energy and agriculture.

Worldwide, Dow has 50,000 employees involved in the production of 5,000 products manufactured in 188 facilities across 37 countries.

It makes over 2.5m shipments to customers in 175 countries.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made the official announcement at the conference that Belfast had been chosen as the location for Dow's supply chain expertise centre - a division which was to lead strategic supply chain projects for the company across the globe.

Andrew Liveris, Dow chairman and chief executive officer, described it as a strategic investment which would "support our long term business objectives while also enabling us to have a positive effect on a region and community".

On June 30, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster officially opened the centre, which in turn created five new jobs.

Philippe Joffroy, director of the site, said: "The start up in Northern Ireland has gone so smoothly that in a recent visit to the centre, the global supply chain vice president asked the team to accelerate its recruitment plans to allow Belfast to increase its capabilities sooner."

The latest staff search is part of a plan to eventually increase staff numbers to 25.

Mr Joffroy said: "These new recruits will be able to utilise the latest cutting edge supply chain technologies to provide the Belfast centre with access to pioneering tools that can be applied to solve complex supply problems for the organisation."

The director said the Belfast centre was proving itself invaluable to the company's global supply systems.

He said: "The team are already leading numerous strategic projects across the globe.

"These projects are looking at complex problems that require innovative solutions.

"Within the first two months the Belfast team have already begun optimising shipping lanes in south east Asia and China for Dow's marine cargo, right-sizing storage tanks at the Antwerp terminal to host our products safely and efficiently and also eliminating waste from our North American logistics network."

As well as close proximity to mainland Europe and a strong communications and transport infrastructure, the company says one of its key strategic considerations in selecting Belfast was its highly educated workforce.

Dow has begun setting up partnerships with Northern Ireland universities, which it hopes will continue to afford access to the cream of the province's latest batch of graduates.

Caolan Small, senior supply chain consultant at Dow in Northern Ireland, said: "Firstly - and we are very excited about this - we have become a member of the Founders Club of the Riddel Hall Postgraduate and Executive Education Centre at Queen's University Belfast.

"This provides us privileged access to the university's leadership and international networks and also presents an opportunity for us to recruit from their considerable talent pool. We have contributed to course content and presented key note speeches at Queen's events.

"We will be attending both the Queen's and University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus recruitment fairs in October to meet the graduate population and discuss future career opportunities at Dow with them."