Karim Henkens, the CEO at Centric, one of the largest IT companies in the Netherlands which has opened its division in Kaunas and plans to employ 250 specialists within the next three years, does not hide the fact that the main reasons for the decision to branch in Kaunas were the possibility to cooperate with Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) as well as convenient flights, cultural similarities and investment-friendly environment.
The IT giant Centric, operating in the Netherlands, Romania, Scandinavia and Benelux countries, intends to create a strong team of IT professionals in the Kaunas department, who will develop new products and will be responsible for maintaining existing solutions. In the future, the Kaunas branch will also become a service center for the railway industry, which will offer technological IT solutions for the industry.
One of the most important terms for such development is a close relationship with Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) which was confirmed on 15 June when the Letter of Intent was signed.
Business ideas and internships incorporated into studies
As the Rector ad interim at the KTU Jurgita Šiugždinienė said during the meeting and signing of the Letter of Intent, this partnership will make a significant contribution to the training of IT experts who will be able to solve the issues of the 21st century.
“The establishment of the cooperation with Centric is only the first step, but we are already seeing huge new opportunities. We are talking not only about the promising jobs for KTU graduates, but also the improvements in the training of IT specialists, enriching it with business ideas and internships.
I think it will not be difficult to find a common ground here. Centric emphasizes that the future members of their team should be not just experts in their field, but also have creative mind. And KTU is also orientated to that broader field of competence of modern IT experts, not limited to specific expertise”, said Šiugždinienė.
According to her, the decision of another major international investor to open its branch in Kaunas is also a clear proof that the cooperation among the city, the university and the public sector while creating an attractive ecosystem for business has a great potential.
The gain is mutual
“As our long-standing experience shows, partnerships of this kind are very beneficial to both sides. After all, the founder of Centric himself was once a lecturer at a university who invited the brightest graduates to join the team of his new company.
So, first and foremost, we hope that KTU will help to discover and find the right students – our future employees.
Meanwhile, we are collaborating with universities and providing scholarships, we help to create training programs, contribute to research and student exchange programs, our staff is lecturing at universities – and this is a huge contribution to the quality of the studies. I have no doubt that such close cooperation will be possible between Centric and KTU,” said Henkens.
Direction – Kaunas
When asked why Kaunas was chosen for the new division, the head of “Centric” said that a thorough investigation and analysis of the cities of different countries was carried out in search of location for the new software development unit.
“We were looking for a city that meets over the twenty requirements that we set out – for example, the city should have a technology-oriented university, a possibility to quickly and conveniently reach the city from anywhere in Europe, and, finally, we even evaluated the local culture for it to be as close to the Dutch as possible.
So, we picked three cities: in Portugal, Romania and Lithuania. Kaunas was the most successful candidate, and the final impulse for development in Lithuania was given by my acquaintance with the Lithuanian businessman Paulius Samoška in Norway, who joined the Centric team and became our powerful interconnector with this country.”
According to Mr. Henkens, he was pleasantly surprised when he came to Lithuania: everyone he met spoke perfect English and the local institutions showed extremely professional work.
“I sincerely believe that the way “Invest Lithuania” works could be an example for many countries. The administration of Kaunas City Municipality has also left the impression of great professionalism, providing valuable information and the help needed by every investor”, says the head of the company.
250 new members will join the Centric family
Ambitious plans to bring together a team of 250 employees within the next few years will be implemented soon.
“We already have a few employees, and at the end of the summer, when we finish office installation work, we will start intense search for team members. For the first stage of development, we will prepare 70 work-places. Our company believes in people and have a strong inner culture.
It is very important for us to have as much integration as possible, both between the employees of different fields and between the departments in different countries, which currently employ about 4,300 people. What kind of people will we search in Kaunas? Those who can work in a team, want to look forward, to travel, to explore and to share. We want people who would like to become a part of a large Centric family,” says the head of the company.
From customer service to technical automation
The new IT center in Kaunas will develop software as well as maintain and improve many existing Centric projects, and, according to Henkens, there are plenty of them: “We want to expand our team to a great extent to ensure the smooth running of existing products, standardized processes, support and development of cloud engineering for businesses and organizations. We intend to establish an international customer service center. We have noticed that more and more customers are looking for English or Scandinavian speaking specialists’ services.
Moreover, in the future, in Kaunas we plan to carry out the technical automation works required for our sister company working with the railway equipment and infrastructure.”
Information by “Kaunas IN” Business Division.