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Our Community: John Gleeson

November 2020
John Gleeson

John Gleeson is General Manager for US company Transact's new Irish headquarters. Transact are based in ENGINE, Limerick and was set up in the Midwest with the support of IDA Ireland.

Can you give us an overview of your background?

I worked in Dell from 1998 - 2007 and I worked as Project Manager when Dell was a huge entity in Limerick. I then ended up working with Hewlett-Packard and I was the IT Operations Manager for two years in Galway.

Back in 2011, General Motors went into bankruptcy, and in 2013 part of the bailout they got, they got to build up a new in-house IT structure and team. They set up this model in Austin, Detroit, Arizona and Ireland and I was the third person in Limerick hired. Since March, I’ve stepped in as General Manager for Transact Campus, which is a new software company.


Transact Campus allows students the capability to do everything on campus from their phone - from paying their fees to buying a coffee, to getting into your dorm or the library. It’s like a digital student card. 


Could you tell us about Transact Campus?

Transact Campus has been around for a very long time, since 1948. It’s to do with campus life in Universities and making university life more streamlined. Transact Campus allows students the capability to do everything on campus from their phone - from paying their fees to buying a coffee, to getting into your dorm or the library. It’s like a digital student card. Transact Campus uses whatever software is out there, like Apply Pay and Google pay to Door Access Software and it becomes the glue that puts it all together. 

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What made Transact set up in the Midwest?

The company is originally an American Company. Last year they separated from their partner's Blackboard, and the new owners of the company wanted to expand their offerings and investment. Part of this has been the expansion of the IT product development team in the US and take it internationally as well. Up until now, we were limited in many ways in developing our products, as we were competing with Blackboards in-house development. They wanted to expand their talent pool outside of Arizona where HQ is based. They looked worldwide, settled on Ireland and then they settled on Limerick and the Midwest. 


We wanted to promote work-life balance amongst our employees, which you get in the Midwest. The Midwest offers good access road, good public transport, access to schools and affordable accommodation


What benefits are there to having your business in the Midwest?

From a pre-covid point of view, we explained to Transact Campus that they wouldn’t be competing with the Dublin market. We were able to offer a lifestyle choice and a pool of talent, leveraging the third level institutions here. We also wanted to promote work-life balance amongst our employees, which you get in the Midwest. The Midwest offers good access road, good public transport, access to schools and affordable accommodation. In order to have longevity, we need a happy team and a more sustainable model.

 

Could you tell us about your decision to employ a predominantly remote team?

Covid has forced a predominantly remote team upon us, but in saying that it has allowed us to develop a new way of working. We now have an ‘Office with a purpose’. If someone is spending the majority of their day answering emails and doing compliance, they don’t need to be in the office. Our plan is to create an office space and the team can use what they need to be successful. We will have desks but they will only be used when needed. We will have collaboration space and lab space and that will be our main focus; I’m less concerned about having desks for 110 people.  

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ENGINE does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides the flexibility that allows me to establish and stand up what I need, without committing myself to long term plans that nobody could sign off on at the moment due to COVID.


What are the main benefits of working in a co-working space like ENGINE?

ENGINE does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides the flexibility that allows me to establish and stand up what I need, without committing myself to long term plans that nobody could sign off on at the moment due to COVID.

ENGINE allowed us to stand up a lab and provide a co-working space for when we have members of the team in. It has absolutely propelled our startup. Until we get to a point where we are well past COVID, I’m not concerned about what that future looks like as ENGINE provides everything I need for right now. The US HQ is very impressed with what ENGINE provides and that they were able to understand our needs and let us focus on what we do best. 

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Do you feel like you have a better work/life balance in the Midwest?

Yes without a doubt. We’ve hired quite a lot of people out of Dublin, whose eyes have been open up to what the Midwest offers. I say to people live where you want and find the life that you want; we will always be able to provide work-life balance and will never return to 9-5 in the office. 


Overall there is longevity out of giving people the option to choose where and how they live and giving them a work-life balance. The midwest offers work-life balance in abundance.


What advice would you give someone if they are considering setting up a company in the Midwest?

You may think it’s not a good time right now with COVID, but it’s actually a very good time. The way of working is changing and evolving right in front of you. Companies are willing to change the way they work. Overall there is longevity out of giving people the option to choose where and how they live and giving them a work-life balance. The midwest offers work-life balance in abundance. Also, things get done quickly in the Midwest. During the set up of Transact Campus, everyone I’ve leaned upon has been there to help at a pace that the HQ in the US has not been able to believe! It’s a true testament to everyone in the Midwest. 

To learn more about Transact, check out their website here