The IDA has named Michael Lohan as its new boss at a time of upheaval for US tech giants, but the challenges he faces will likely be as much to do with the housing crisis as any short-term jobs pull-back, a leading expert has said.
An IDA veteran of 20 years, Mr Lohan takes on the top job from Martin Shanahan who stepped down last year.
Mary Buckley, who held the job on an interim basis, will remain as executive director of the agency.
Mr Lohan’s current job title — global head of life sciences and talent transformation and innovation departments — reflects some of the investment projects that the IDA has been adept at attracting in recent years.
However, the appointment comes as US tech giants that had flooded into Ireland in the past 10 years have started to shed jobs.
Rapidly rising interest rates in the US and Europe have hit tech firms and could potentially choke off funding for a new generation of tech startups.
A Central Bank report last month estimated that 2,300 jobs in Ireland had been shed by information and communications tech firms, which include Google, Meta-owned Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Dell, and Hewlett Packard.
Employing 164,000 people in Ireland, they have however shrunk their global workforces by 87,300 people by the end of February, the Central Bank estimated, and have since announced new rounds of layoffs.
However, UCC economist Seamus Coffey, a leading expert on the multinationals, said it was unclear that the “extraordinary growth” in IDA-supported jobs, which had doubled to 320,000 in 10 years, will fall back significantly, despite the global tech layoffs.
The new CEO may be just as worried about the acute housing shortages — which the IDA had highlighted in the past — as it is about any slowdown in the pace of growth of tech investments, Mr Coffey said.
He added that Ireland had weathered the shake-up in the global corporation tax regime and attracted huge investments by pharma manufacturers that could anchor them to Ireland.
The ICT jobs shakeout showed that “it was not all plain sailing”, but that the IDA probably faces a more benign outlook than may appear at the moment, Mr Coffey said.