The head of Facebook Ireland, Gareth Lambe, spoke at the ACCA Business Leaders' Forum in Dublin city centre today and we were there to see what our students could gleam from both Lambe himself, as well as the company he leads. Facebook in itself is a fascinating company when you think of the graduates it hires. On one side, it’s a massive tech company so you’ve got all the engineers, designers and IT specialists that you’d have in any software company.
On the other side, however, Facebook is also one of the largest advertising companies in the world so you’ve also got lots of business and marketing graduates as well as the full gamut of HR specialists, finance and accountancy staff on top of services like PR, graphic design and legal.
Facebook currently has over 2,500 staff in Ireland and with new offices in East Wall in Dublin there is capacity for well over 1,500 more. So, as a company, it’s well worth looking at – whether you’re a student with aspirations of one day working there or someone looking to take that Facebook approach into your own business.
With 1.8 billion users Facebook is something that almost everyone interacts with on a daily basis. The company also owns WhatsApp and Instagram which have 2.3 billion users between them. That’s exactly why we should all pay heed of what someone like Lambe has to say.
1 – He’s a big fan of millennials
Lambe revealed that the average age of a Facebook employee in Ireland is 32 – so it’s probably best for him that he thinks so highly of millennials. “People are hard on millennials but I just don’t see it at all. I think they are so motivated and they expect and demand transparency and integrity in everything they do. They are also incredibly civically motivated – much more so than people of my own generation.”
2 – Virtual reality is the next big thing
Working in a company like Facebook, Lambe has the opportunity to see first-hand what the rest of us mere mortals might not see in real-life for a couple of years yet. Facebook bought the virtual reality company Oculus (then known as Oculus Rift) for $2 billion in 2014 and the company recently opened a base in Cork. Lambe recently tested a virtual reality prototype and said “it’s the single most impressive piece of tech I’ve ever seen in my life”.
He said that virtual reality is set to revolutionise the education sector – which is of particular interest to us here at Griffith College. “Imagine a kid being able to wander around the Sistine Chapel while listening to their teacher in their classroom”. It’s a tantalising thought.
3 – The nature of ads are changing
As Lambe himself admits, “Facebook makes well over 95 percent of its revenue from ads. He says that the major shift now is at getting advertisers to think mobile-first when creating their ads. “The aim is to make ads as welcome as anything else on your news feed. That’s a surprise for some people to hear. But people don’t dislike ads. They dislike bad ads.”
4 – Facebook’s Irish expansion shows no signs of slowing down
Considering that Facebook’s first Dublin office opened in 2009 with only 30 employees – it’s been one hell of a journey. We’ve already mentioned the company’s expansion in Dublin but Facebook are on the verge of opening a data centre in Meath (only the company’s second ever data centre outside of the US) that is as large as five Aviva Stadiums and if virtual reality takes off like Lambe thinks it will, then Cork’s Oculus HQ could be soon set for an expansion.
5 – The more strings you have to your bow, the better
Obviously, Lambe was speaking at an event organised by ACCA. He’s not an accountant by trade (his undergraduate degree in Commerce and Spanish from UCD) but he did take an ACCA course in financial management to help him understand profit and loss accounts and all the rest of the figures that a top-level manager would have to be able to deal with on a daily basis.