Why hire international talents?
An open talk about why to hire talents global, based on the personal experiences of Mark van Felius, Development manager of Mapscape in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Can you give a brief introduction about your company and yourself?
The business of Mapscape is creating digital maps for OEM customers, our most famous clients being BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler. We process data for our automotive customers in a broad sense, creating the maps and the services around it. Having an initial map is one thing, being able to update it is another. We are able to create map updates and then distribute these updates. We use a framework that can connect with the cars and detect which versions of the different parts of the map are installed and which require updating. That is what I mean with “in a broad sense”.
I have a background in information technology, studied at the University of Technology in Eindhoven. I started as a software engineer in the contracting business, did that for a few years and then moved on to project management. In 2007 Mapscape was founded and I made the transition from being a project manager to department manager Innovation & Development, which I have been doing up until now.
Why do talented engineers choose to work for Mapscape?
There are a few aspects to that. The automotive domain is quite appealing. Digital mapping, navigation systems, combined with having the bigger OEMs as customers. There is a certain appeal to working for a company that is a supplier of BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen. Within this domain, we are quite bleeding edge. We work according to a map standard called NDS (Navigation Data Standard), which is defined by a consortium in which we are actively participating. We can define our future and standard in that respect and create maps according to that standard, defining and implementing as we go along.
From a software engineering perspective, we are a very mature company. We operate on automotive spice level 2, preparing to go to Level 3, which is comparable to CMM level 2 to 3. A necessary basis to be attractive for serious professional software engineers. Combined with up to date technology; we use modern C++ 14, Python 3 and SQL. Also the latest Atlassian tooling as Jira for issue tracking, Bitbucket and Confluence.
We have a very good development process and give a lot of responsibility to our software engineers. We are not a company where the software architect dictates what software engineers need to implement. You will get a high level of responsibility for the tasks that you need to implement. A very autonomous way of working rather than exactly being told what to do. This comes with the responsibility that your work is sufficiently tested. You can summarize it as taking control of your career, being master of your own destiny.
If you then combine this with our multi-cultural environment, which is based on core company values like respect, being integer and being fair, we have a nice mix of good reasons to work for Mapscape.
What is your experience in hiring international engineers?
My summarizing answer is that it is a good experience. If you look at Mapscape, here in our Eindhoven office, we are with about 125 people. The Innovation & Development group, which is under my responsibility, consists of about 70 people. We have around 30 different nationalities in our office. Looking at the total group, people with a migration background are slightly in the majority, a bit over 50 percent. A good mix of Dutch employees and employees coming from abroad.
What do you recognize as an advantage for your company in hiring international talents?
One of the main reasons why we started looking internationally is simply to broaden the market in which we can recruit. We are located in Eindhoven, which is an area where a lot of software engineering is going on. There is fierce competition in the recruiting itself. We have bigger companies like ASML and Philips in the neighborhood that are hunting for the same C++ experts as Mapscape is.
To us, it came as a natural step to broaden our field of search. We already had an international orientation when Mapscape was founded. Our company language was English and there were already people in the company of different nationalities. It was kind of built-in our culture and we simply built forward on that basis.
Our experience is that if you come from abroad looking for a new company, there could not be a better fit than landing in a company that already has more than 50 percent of a very mixed community. The chances are big that there are already people in our company coming from the same country or at least speaking the same language, which already gives a common basis to build on and helps to integrate and feel at home.
What challenges do you see when hiring internationals?
The most obvious one is finding them in the first place. This may not be unique to recruiting abroad, but it is a challenge. For us, this means working with the right partners who can bring us in contact with engineers that have a profile that we were looking for. When recruiting abroad, it is good to have a partner who knows the local market where you are recruiting, who knows the companies which are active there and which might have matching profiles for your company.
There are challenges like the interview process itself. Many years ago, when we started international recruitment, doing Skype interviews were not that common. I remember we had a process where we would do one or two Skype interviews and we had the rule that we would always have a face-to-face interview in the office before we made a go or no go decision. Over the years we relaxed that rule because it turned out that Skype interviews were as good and as productive as having a face to face.
Other challenges are the whole trajectory of doing the immigration process, legal paperwork, finding housing, supporting with the moving itself. Mapscape has always supported the full process for our new employees. If you do not do that, you would not have a trusted solution that is convincing for the candidate. You can also outsource this, which is what we did in the past, but due to experience, we take care of this ourselves now.
Our HRM department put a lot of effort into the whole process, including finding housing, especially for the first few weeks or months until a candidate is more settled. The candidates move to another country in most cases. Knowing that we take care for them gives them the confidence they need in order to accept a job offer from Mapscape.
What would your suggestion hiring managers that hesitate to hire international engineers?
I would advise looking for a strong partner who could support you in finding the resources you are looking for in the local market abroad.
Concerning the “being hesitant” part; Look at the example I gave with the Skype interviews. My experience is that interviewing a software engineer from abroad is not that different from interviewing a local software engineer. I mean, if you speak to a candidate that is giving you strange answers or does not seem motivated, then I can assure you that it is the same for people coming from abroad as it is for local people; that is probably not the candidate you're looking for.
In my experience, there is not that much of a difference between a local software engineer and a software engineer from abroad, apart from maybe a few cultural differences. As long as you are aware of those and you can see through that, then I wouldn’t be too hesitant.
Manuel Teunissen | Co-founder Mundialz | January 2020