RebelCon to gather brightest and best of software engineering sector

Stephanie Sheehan, Poppulo; with David Haskett Dell EMC; Annette Coburn, it@cork Skillnet; Damien Daly, Poppulo; Donagh Horgan of Johnson Controls; Deborah Fitzgerald, Teamwork; and Aidan Casey of Johnson Controls, launching RebelCon 2019, Ireland’s largest tech event which takes place in Cork on June 19 and 20. Picture: Darragh Kane.

THE future for software development in Ireland has never looked brighter, with companies of all sizes from multinationals to indigenous start-ups steadily expanding.

The sector has been growing at a phenomenal rate in Cork — as is evident in the buzz surrounding this year’s RebelCon, Ireland’s largest software engineering conference, which takes place in the Clayton Hotel, Cork, on Wednesday and Thursday, June 19 and 20.

It will be the third year that the conference creates a platform for the sector to discuss software engineering, architecture, machine learning, big data, Internet of Things, design, test and team culture.

Recruitment in the sector is soaring, not least at Poppulo, whose communications software platform and advisory services are helping companies transform their internal communications and enhance employee engagement.

Poppulo’s head of engineering, Damien Daly, is very optimistic about the future for software engineering in Ireland, and in Cork in particular. He was one of the founders of RebelCon, along with his Poppulo colleague Stephanie Sheehan and Aidan Casey of Johnson Controls.

“We are very optimistic about, both about Poppulo and the sector as a whole,” said Damien Daly. “In recent years, the tech sector in Cork has gone through a transition from being dominated by big multinationals to being a hub for expanding indigenous companies.

“One of the reasons for this has been the soaring costs of salaries and housing in Dublin. Cork offers great lifestyle choices to employees, with better disposable income and West Cork just a short drive away.

“We’re seeing a lot of people moving to Cork from Dublin and London. The fact that software engineering is knowledge-based work, primarily over the internet, means that you can choose your location to suit your business.

“We have a lot of international workers at Poppulo. The feedback we’re getting is that moving to Cork is a great lifestyle choice. The local ecosystem is also very strong, with excellent graduates from UCC and CIT, both of whom we have strong relationships with.”

In January, Poppulo announced that it had raised €30m in funding from US venture capital firm Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE). It is using these funds to invest in its technology platform and to take on additional sales and marketing staff across North America and Europe.

Established in Cork by chief executive Andrew O’Shaughnessy back in 2002, Poppulo has developed an employee communications platform that is used by more than 800 leading organisations — including Unilever, Bank of America, Nestlé, Johnson Controls, Rolls-Royce, Boston Scientific CRH, Kerry, AIB and the Ardagh Group.

Poppulo claims that 30% of the largest employers in Europe are among its customers, and 20% of the biggest companies in the US.

Little wonder it is in near permanent recruitment mode. The company currently employs 70 highly skilled software engineers among its total 200 staff.

The company this week unveiled plans to create 125 new jobs in its latest recruitment drive, with a suite of openings for software designers, developers, testers and reliability engineers, among others. The company is attracting interest from skilled workers both locally and internationally.

Of course, the same could be said of other companies in Cork like Johnson Controls, Apple, VMWare, Qualcomm, Teamwork, Xanadu, Over-C, Zendesk, NuAra, FireEye and Forcepoint. They’re all recruiting, all growing and serving global clients. Most will also be represented at RebelCon.

“RebelCon is a grassroots conference, created by practitioners for practitioners,” said Damien Daly. “There is a very strong vibrant tech community in Cork, with a great mix of big and mid-sized companies.

“The conference came about because we saw that a lot of people were organising meet-ups around the region. We wanted to create a focal point for those discussions.

“The genesis of RebelCon has always been to serve the technology community, particularly developers, designers and testers.

“While we’ve already secured an impressive line-up of national and international industry speakers, we are truly committed to being led by software sector, and hence this shout out to the sector to submit papers and speakers for the 2019 event,” said the RebelCon co-founder Damien Daly.

Hosted by Poppulo, with support from it@cork Skillnet and software houses across Ireland including Teamwork, Johnson Controls and Dell EMC, RebelCon expects to attract over 300 attendees to this year’s event.

One topic that will generate some lively discussion will focus on inclusivity in the workplace. Given the collaborative nature of new software product development, virtually all the companies cited here see teamwork as being vital to their progress.

“Workplace culture is very important in this sector,” said Damien Daly. “All these companies realise the importance of inclusivity and safe places for people to collabrate and create.

“Innovation and product development require a lot of collaboration. So this will be one of the interesting areas of discussion at RebelCon. Of course, there will also be a lot of technical discussion.

“There really is nothing quite like this conference anywhere else in the country. It is Ireland’s premier software development conference. From day one, we have always been very conscious of having the best of local and international speakers.”

RebelCon comprises two days of workshops as well as talks on the latest technology, culture and development practices in the software industry.

The series of talks and workshops will feature speakers including: David French, Google; Paul McGrath, Dell EMC; Donagh Horgan, Johnson Controls; Oonagh O’Brien, CIT; Kevin Duggan, Poppulo; Julie Matviyuk, Symantec; David Gonzalez and Alex Knol, nearForm; Sabine Wojcieszak, getNextIT; and Jorge Salamero, Sysdig.

Business Movers

Dr Jennifer Collins has been appointed as lead general dentist in Northumberland Dental Care in Dublin 4, formerly The Northumberland Institute of Dental Medicine. She will provide a full range of general dental treatments for patients, as well as specialising in facial aesthetics. A graduate of University of Wales College of Medicine, she has trained and worked as a dentist in both Ireland and the UK. She has worked in private practice in Dublin 2 for over 10 years. She also spent two in Maxillofacial Surgery across two hospitals in Brighton and Eastbourne, UK. She has a special interest in cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry and is fully trained in facial aesthetics. She is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and sits on the Irish Dental Association’s GP Committee, and has volunteered with a number of charities including Operation Smile.

Mark Synnott has joined financial advisers Duff & Phelps as managing director and head of the firm’s Real Estate Advisory Group (REAG) in Dublin. He joins from GVA Dónal Ó Buachalla, where he was a company director, responsible for loan security valuations, investment acquisition advice and landlord and tenant services including rent reviews. He was previously divisional director with JLL in Dublin. He brings more than 20 years of experience in investment and strategic advice. He has advised major lenders, restructuring professionals, private equity groups and property companies on strategy and valuation matters. He is the incoming chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) valuation surveying professional group and sits on the Building Information Modelling (BIM) working group representing the Valuation Professional Group.

Paul Kingston has been appointed healthcare portfolio manager with BlackBee. Paul is a leading figure and authority in the healthcare sector in Ireland. He is a chartered accountant and held financial controller roles prior to purchasing his first nursing home in 1997. Paul was instrumental in the formation of Carechoice Group, one of the largest nursing home groups in Ireland and oversaw the exponential growth of the business over the last 10 years. He studied Chartered Accountancy in Cork Institute of Technology. He said: “I am delighted to join the team at BlackBee as we begin work on a number of healthcare sector projects. It is a very exciting opportunity.”

Cormac Ryan has been named as sales director with Enet, the wholesale, open-access telecoms network provider. Previously Enet’s commercial manager, he will now oversee the implementation of Enet’s ongoing sales strategy. He will report to David Eyre, Enet’s chief commercial officer. He brings 20 years of customer relationship experience in the Irish telecoms marketplace, including the management of customer projects, as well as holding sales roles. He has held roles in Silicon & Software Systems (S3 Group) and BT Ireland. He holds a degree in Electrical and Microelectric Engineering, and a diploma in Applied Project Management, both University College Cork.

Annemarie Harte has been appointed as managing director of the Irish business of Ecocem Ireland Ltd, the low carbon cement manufacturer. She will oversee the Irish and UK operations, and the launch of new product solutions. She is taking over the role from Micheál McKittrick, who is moving to a new post as Ecocem’s MD for northern Europe with responsibility for the Irish, UK and Benelux markets. She was previously CEO of Hardware Association Ireland (HAI), and has also held senior roles including consultant with the Royal Life Saving Society, CEO of Rotary International and manager of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber of Commerce.

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