Limerick talent gets on the global stage at ACI

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Shane Blake, ACI. Pic: Cian Reinhardt
Shane Blake, ACI. Pic: Cian Reinhardt

Working for a company that deals with $1 million in payments every second has been a hugely rewarding experience for Shane Blake who talks to Andrew Carey about the many reasons why Limerick is proving such a popular attraction for overseas investors.

“THE art of doing good business is being a good middle man.”

That line from the 2004 movie Layer Cake probably best encapsulates what ACI Universal Payments does on a global scale.

And when HR manager Shane Blake clicks his fingers every second, $1 million dollars would have passed through ACI’s worldwide payment systems.

“We are a technology company but what we are doing is payment systems for banks and we have $14 trillion dollars a day going through our systems all over the globe.”

During his five years with the company, Shane has watched it grow from a head count of 20 to over 100 and still growing.

Now in their third building since setting up in Ireland, ACI Universal Payments is located in the former Flextronics building in Castletroy.

“Because ACI was looking to set up a European based data centre, finding the right location was key.

“Our customers didn’t want third party hosts for their data, they want us to handle it so we have complete responsibility for the data centre.

“The Limerick data centre is the largest outside of the US so when they were looking for a building, ACI had three or four locations throughout Europe on its radar.

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“But with the availability of high calibre engineering talent and a strong site leader in Martina Power, who rose through the ranks to become global Vice President of software engineering, Limerick was very high on the list.

“Limerick was an obvious choice for setting up the data centre in the ACI network with its strong track record over the years.

“It’s ironic that the Irish weather is on our side but little variances in temperature can be important. We also have an excellent working relationship with the US management team and how our timezone is also an advantage. All of these line up in our favour.”

And for Shane, who is a former recruiter with employment agency CPL, the availability of talent in the region cannot be overestimated.

“Our senior executive VP and leader of product development wants to continue to expand the Limerick site because the calibre of managers and individual contributing engineers is second to none.

“If you go back ten years or so, you had Galway, Cork and Dublin where the majority of companies investing were in the tech sector employing software engineers, network engineers for the data centre or systems engineers.

“These cities are where some of our talent pool is coming from. The majority of those graduates were moving to Galway and FDI companies followed them. Galway soon became saturated with people jumping jobs every year and it looked like attrition rates were high.

“We are a global player in the payments industry, handling $14 trillion dollars a day, but most people will never hear about ACI like they would other consumer brands.

“We are handling payments transactions for banks and retailer like a middle man and there is huge responsibility and security that goes with it.”

Working in HR, Shane is well aware that acquiring top talent is always the goal and having the right environment is key.

“In late 2016, when ACI opened their data centre, there was a tech job announcement every Monday for four weeks. They were all tech companies and Limerick was fast becoming a tech hub where everyone was looking for this talent.

“ACI was probably the new kid on the block and while that might not be the case anymore, our attrition rate is still very low for industry standards in Ireland.

“We have people moving from other locations outside of Ireland but we haven’t had to attract outside of the ACI family much as of yet.

“The perception of Limerick is that we are getting very good talent here and they are good communicators and engineers so a key thing for us is that these guys are not just sitting at a desk.”

With almost 5,000 across the ACI network, Limerick is seen as a development site so ACI’s headcount here could rise to 200 over the coming years.

Along with Limerick’s recognition on the international stage, Shane also derives enormous satisfaction from seeing new recruits grow their careers at ACI.

“There is a great sense of satisfaction in seeing ACI look after that person’s career because we have been able to retain them through the culture that has been created here.

“We have a high performance culture here and we try to hire top talent. It’s not the person who got top of the class but those who are interested and have a passion for it.”

“The tech sector has become more competitive and people want more flexibility in their lives, so keeping a balance in that flexibility is key.  It’s not just the employees as employers need to be agile too.

“There is a culture here where we allow people to grow their career but we also provide them  with a good work-life-balance.”

He also believes that people should take more risks in their careers and look for good quality mentoring.

“Since joining ACI, I report into the US arm and by nature they are very good at that whole ‘anything is possible scenario’ and I liked that. In the end, it all amounts to a simple mantra, don’t let failure define you”.

See more at careers.aciworldwide.com