Orkney-based software company Kyloe is celebrating a significant milestone after officially opening its new base in Kirkwall. We've been hearing about the company's exciting expansion plans.
"We solve just as complex problems here in Orkney as people in Silicon Valley do,” says Stewart Morgan, Director of Kyloe. “But here, you can definitely have that balance between a good personal life and a really challenging, interesting work environment as well.”
That’s just one of the selling points of Kyloe, and indeed Orkney, as a place to build a career. The software company has been established in the islands for three years now and is in the midst of a rapid expansion to meet demand. It works within the recruitment industry and has clients across the world, from New Zealand to Boston.
It’s all managed from its new base on Albert Street in Kirkwall. The former Custom House building has been renovated to become a modern, sleek and creative environment for the team, which currently numbers nearly 30 in Orkney alone.
“It has taken around three years to really build the business to where it is now,” says Stewart. “We have plans to double our current workforce in Orkney over the next few years to take things to the next level.”
Put simply, Kyloe has brought a completely new dimension to Orkney’s jobs market. The company offers technology positions that are relatively unique to the islands. There are roles for software and database developers, programmers and systems administrators. Then, to support this growth, Kyloe is also expanding its business functions, with posts in finance, marketing, sales, accounting and project management also regularly available.
Orkney’s talent pool has risen to the challenge, and the company has been able to recruit a large number of new employees locally. However, with the growth set to continue, Stewart knows that the business will have to look further afield. “Hiring people in Orkney can sometimes be remarkably easy, other times it can be hard. It just depends on the role we’re trying to fill,” he says.
“Some of our team realised a long time ago that Orkney is a great place to live and prioritised quality of life over the rat race, but inevitably we’ll eventually struggle to find all the skillsets with the relevant experience here. So, we have an ongoing recruitment campaign to attract people from around the world to come to Orkney and see all its benefits.”
It appears that the process is already bearing fruit. Ashleigh Gillespie has made the move to the islands all the way from South Africa, accompanied by her partner and daughter. The family has been finding its Orkney feet as she helps the company grow in her role as HR Business Partner. So far, this life-changing move has worked out well.
“Orkney has really exceeded all my expectations – the work/life balance here is phenomenal,” says Ashleigh. “Having the chance to experience the wildlife and explore the beaches, and then still have a corporate business profession is really appealing.”
Ashleigh looks after the company’s talent as well as advising on recruitment, so it’s obviously a busy time for her, but it’s a challenge she’s really enjoying. “It’s great to be able to help build the company into what we want it to be and it’s awesome to be part of that journey,” she says. “And then at home I know that my daughter is settling in brilliantly, and everyone has been really friendly and accommodating. Island life has been amazing!”
Kyloe’s Data Team Leader, David Rendall, is someone else who left city life and headed for the islands, albeit more than a decade ago. An Orcadian, he worked in London for a number of years before deciding to return home. “At the time, our children were growing up and we realised we didn’t want to live in the city anymore,” says David. “I was offered a job as a computer programmer at NHS Orkney and took that. It was a fairly unusual job to get in Orkney and I figured I would be there for the rest of my career, so for Kyloe to be here now with all the opportunities it offers, it’s really fantastic for the islands.”
Despite his experience of city living and working, David is convinced that his new start with Kyloe is definitely for the best. “I can barely believe an organisation like this exists in Orkney. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been learning new skills here too,” he says.
“My wife loves it in Orkney and she can get out to the beaches with the dog or go horse riding. For me, I enjoy a smaller place, somewhere less intense, where you can let your kids do their own thing without having to worry about them. It’s just great.”
Kyloe certainly offers new horizons for its staff, with the chance of secondments to its offices around the world. The customer list is global too, which means that a day at work in Kirkwall can involve dealing with clients in places like Singapore or North America. It also shows that Orkney is connected, and people can advance their careers in an exciting and dynamic sector, right here in the islands.
The last word is from Stewart, who has been busy setting up the new Orkney operation and crossing the Atlantic to the Kyloe offices in Boston, as the business continues to grow. “We’re doing things from Kirkwall that are completely unique around the world, and we’re going to have a wide variety of roles based here in the months and years to come,” he says.
“We’ve found some really great people already, some from the islands and some from further afield. We can offer technology jobs you can’t find anywhere else and Orkney offers a sense of community, where you know people and they value what you do.
“It’s definitely about all the things the islands have to offer, and the benefits of living in a place like Orkney.”