Tech Humans Of Dublin # 26: Johanna Moran, SoftLayer, An IBM Company

Johanna Moran

Mapping Dublin’s tech ecosystem, one human at a time.

I love the social aspect of my job. By making valuable, strategic connections for companies I feel that I’m doing work that’s of real value to them, particularly in the early growth stage.

I’m the Community Development Manager for SoftLayer. IBM acquired us two years ago – they were looking for the best Cloud solution out there. We also had our own infrastructure, which was really important, and an existing global footprint – our key selling point is that we provide dedicated servers, as well as customizable hybrid solutions. IBM needed us, and we needed them. We’re just at the end of our initial two-year grace period and it’s been a really interesting learning curve.

I don’t like big events. I prefer smaller, more intimate networking opportunities where I can have real conversations with people and get to know them – and I don’t mean the startup groupies, I’m talking about forging real relationships with influencers and thought-starters globally – particularly Ireland and the Nordics, which are the regions I’m responsible for. Getting to know the investors and connectors in key hubs like Berlin & Amsterdam, for example, leads to introductions with companies that we can then work with. It’s all about word of mouth, getting to know people, making those connections. When you have that face-to-face relationship, it truly builds trust with the CTOs. By being the one point of contact for the Catalyst programme, which I run, they know that they can come to me directly.  IBM like that too. Oh – and my team is hiring!

I spend a lot of time in Scandinavia. The quality up there is really great –  what’s been a big eye-opener is the fact that Ireland is just as competitive as Sweden right now, in terms of the quality of startups pushing out. And that’s great to see, especially for Dublin, which has adapted to the modern digital economy really quickly. We’re getting really savvy at running Hackathons, for example, and making them accessible for people who might have expertise in one area but don’t know how to translate those skills to become an entrepreneur. They’re a really good way to test the waters.

There’s so much going on in Dublin, you could be out every single night – but you have to be strategic about the events you want to go to and the type of people you want to meet. Right now, I’m really excited about projects that have come out of universities, where innovation is driving cutting edge technology, without the financial constraints that many startups work within. That’s where I see huge value. Current developments in augmented reality, which is still in its infancy, really excite me. I can’t wait to see what happens in that space.

What do I love about Dublin? There’s  a vibrancy about the city that cultivates innovation – not just in digital, but in the playwrights, poets and performers that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries. I love going out for cheeky pints or dinner with friends, and just catching up. It’s really good craic.


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