This year marks a milestone for JRI America Inc in Ireland. As it enters its tenth year in business, the company’s technology centre at Kerry Business Park has evolved to play a crucial role in its international operations, employing 200 people across a range of high-value roles.
The work carried out by these professionals is key to supporting Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation – one of Japan’s largest banks and a Fortune 500 company – in important global markets, such as North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
For Shane Walsh, country head for Ireland at JRI America Inc, the company’s ten-year milestone marks a proud achievement and a chance to take stock of all that has been accomplished in Kerry over the past decade.
“JRI America Inc having a location in Tralee has been transformative for our IT offering,” Walsh told the Business Post.
“Over the last ten years, we’ve built a company that has excellent technical skills, strong cultural values and one that has grown in capability year-on-year. We’ve evolved to provide exceptional strength to JRI America’s technology offering worldwide.”
Outside Ireland, JRI America Inc (jri-america.com) employs 400 people in New York and New Jersey for North America and EMEA operations.
Tralee was chosen as the base for the company’s new technology centre ten years ago following a worldwide review of potential locations.
“We had identified a need to scale our IT footprint to support Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in North America and the EMEA. The bank was undergoing strong growth in both markets and that growth was forecast to continue,” Walsh said.
JRI America Inc opted to base its new technology centre in Ireland in response to the strength of the educational system here.
Kerry was chosen because of the ease of access to North America and EMEA markets offered by both Kerry Airport and Shannon Airport, and the competitive cost of doing business in the region.
Tralee, meanwhile, offered unique access to a skilled cohort of graduates at Institute of Technology Tralee (now Munster Technological University).
“There is an incredible ecosystem of supports here on the ground for us. Starting out, we had very valuable help from Shannon Group and IDA Ireland,” Walsh said.
“Other companies already based here in Tralee and Kerry were very welcoming, but we have also had this amazing access to Munster Technological University.
“We are based on the same campus as MTU and we have had a strong link with the university from day one. We knew we wanted to hire staff we could train, and we were looking to the college to produce those people.
“We engaged with them early on during our investigation phase to help us understand what their output could be and how we could work with them.
“They were very open to partnering with us. We do guest lectures and meet with their lecturers and students quite regularly to this day, right the way through from first year, and we now run one of the biggest internship programmes in Munster.”
Interns taking part in this programme get a unique opportunity to work alongside, learn from and contribute to, teams working in IT infrastructure and security services and banking application development and support.
JRI’s Tralee facility is home to a Security Operations Centre and Customer Service Centre with operations spanning development, QA and testing, network, infrastructure, data centre and helpdesk support.
“We’re able to successfully provide services to both our EMEA division from early morning and be in place for our North America division later in the day,” Walsh said.
“We also have a large and growing team here assigned to build, automate, test and deploy the bank applications and data services for our various locations.”
The roles on offer at JRI America Inc in Tralee range from internships and graduate positions right through to senior roles for seasoned professionals with 20-plus years’ experience in technology and banking.
“Tralee has superb people with the technical talent we need to build and develop our business,” Walsh said.
“We really value the strong employee base we have built up here over the past ten years, the employees who have been able to progress their own IT careers with us and helped to shape us as a company.”
One such professional is Yvonne O’Leary, who is head of application production support at JRI America Inc in Tralee.
Originally from Killarney, O’Leary studied Computing and Enterprise Studies at IT Tralee and joined JRI in 2012 shortly after its Kerry facility opened.
“Back when I left college in 2004, there were no graduate placements on offer anywhere in Munster. I wanted to live in Kerry, but my career was also very important to me, so I had no choice but to go to Dublin,” O’Leary said.
Following an eight-year stint with a tech company in the capital, during which she progressed from a graduate role to management, O’Leary made the decision to return home to work with JRI. She hasn’t looked back since.
“Throughout my career as a woman working in IT, I’d found that I did have to work that little bit harder to prove myself, but that stereotype is fading now for sure,” O’Leary said.
“At JRI, we are 50 per cent female at this stage. It’s fantastic. There is quite an equal balance between women and men here on the technical side.”
O’Leary’s work involves overseeing a 16-strong support team for applications across payments, regulatory and compliance functions, and middleware technologies.
“We work in collaboration with many teams in North America and the EMEA and my own team has doubled in the last year. We’ve taken on six people alone during the pandemic and we are still growing,” she said.
For O’Leary, who lives in Killarney and commutes to Tralee to work, her role at JRI America Inc has allowed her to further her career while also striking a healthy balance between her work and home and life.
“Moving to Tralee back in 2012 was a big chance to take, but I was very much supported by Shane and the team here at JRI. The company has given me a lot of opportunities to grow and my career in IT has flourished as a result,” she said.
“At the same time, my quality of life is better. Right now, I am working from my holiday home on Valentia Island, but, ordinarily, my journey from my home in Killarney to work in Tralee takes 40 minutes. Getting to and from work was much more difficult in Dublin.
“At the same time, I have all these other amenities that are important to me. I can row with my club, Flesk Valley, on the Killarney lakes all summer long. I can go for a walk on Banna Beach if I want to at lunchtime.
“I can bring my manager at our New York office for lunch at Ballyseede Castle when they’re over visiting. It is just a great balance all round.”