Asset 2

Mason Alexander and The Maples Group: “Attracting talent and scaling your international business in Ireland”

25 June 2019 by Mason Alexander
To Useimage005

​On Friday, 22nd of June we joined up with Maples Group to host an event in The National Gallery of Ireland for a lunch and panel discussion. In attendance there were businesses ranging from small tech start-ups to more established companies. The Panel comprised of Helen Smyth, Head of Ireland of Facebook EMEA, Karen Killalea; Head of Employment at Maples Group and Andrew Quinn, Head of Tax at Maples Group. All had very relevant points in terms of the topic of choice;  “Attracting talent and scaling your international business in Ireland”.

Andrew Lynch, CEO of Mason Alexander MC’d the event.




In Ireland today, 2.2 million people are employed which means we are almost at full employment with only 4.4% unemployment. The panel discussed what this means for businesses in terms of attracting talent.


Helen Smyth of Facebook was first to comment that hiring within the tech space is extremely competitive and often other issues than salary need to be taken into consideration. Firstly – a good work/life balance is top priority for many of our candidates. Retaining the best talent is all about understanding that flexibility and trust is a huge element of this. She recalled a time in her career when she would potentially miss a moment in her child’s life for an important meeting. Employees should not have to make these difficult decisions and Facebook are willing to be flexible in that regard.


Other considerations are bringing talent in from abroad. As the war on talent continues within every sector, Facebook’s global reach means that they can headhunt people from around the globe. However, important factors are issues such as; the wellbeing of the new hire’s family. Will they be able to navigate our school system? Housing, market etc?


Karen Killalea and Andrew Quinn discussed the implication of certain visas and what families can avail of in those circumstances also. They noted that Maples want to assist with making it as smooth as possible for families moving over here in relation to visas and tax; there are different categories which can be availed of; Critical Skills Visa, Trusted Partner Status, Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) etc.


The Panel also discussed some interesting issues that can be taken into account around the hiring process. Helen said Facebook carry out a 4 stage interview process where not only are skills analysed but also the person themselves. Through “Pulse” and “Impact Hiring” strategies, they strive to get a good idea of the individual as a whole so that they can match them to the role and help minimise unconscious bias, but also so they can gain insight in how to best support and develop that person once they are in the company.


Interestingly, Karen noted that it is during the hiring process that employers have the perfect time to include some clauses into a contract of employment in the event that employment terminates. Much like a pre-nuptial agreement, you hope that you do not have to use it, however, she advises that it is wise to stitch it into the contract nevertheless.


Karen also noted that employers must be careful with regard to background checks and in light of GDPR etc. to consider how necessary they are.




In terms of tax in Ireland, Head of Tax at Maples, Andrew Quinn, noted that Ireland is not just a tax haven for big businesses. Whilst we have a good corporate tax rate, we have quite a high personal tax rate. This is a trade-off since the low corporate tax attracts lots of great global companies, however, in order to work with in these companies, you must pay a high personal tax rate.


In terms of talent retention; Helen advised that Facebook offer strong maternity/paternity leave, IVF and Adoption Services support and are constantly reviewing employee engagement and progression.  Helen noted that it’s important to ensure that employees are constantly challenged, that they know their career progression prospects and have a forum to discuss any issues they may have.


On a global scale, the panel agreed that unlike the UK and US, Ireland is in a strong position in terms of our openness to immigration and continued establishment of a tech hub. Helen noted that many contract employees in Facebook who moved here from abroad are now seeking to extend those contracts as they feel welcome and safe in Ireland.


For us at Mason Alexander, recruitment is so much more than placing people in jobs. We have access to people in many industries who have such relevant knowledge and it is a pleasure to accommodate a gathering of people, all curious to learn and discuss such interesting topics.


Thank you to everyone who attended and who were involved in the organisation of the event. We look forward to partnering with companies throughout the rest of 2019!