Gavin Hutchinson, Senior Consultant | UK Professional Services Delivery
It’s not that Gavin Hutchinson is hesitant to claim Derry as his home of origin. It’s just not technically accurate.
Gavin was born in London, but when he was 6 years old, his family moved to Donegal, a county located 20 minutes from the city of Derry. In his early years, he spent time in Derry, and it’s where he met Síle, the woman he would eventually marry.
“That was my downfall. Once I married a Derry woman, that was it,” says Gavin. “I never had a chance after that.” While Gavin attended university in Scotland, Síle was hired on at IBM in Portsmouth, England. To be closer to her, he transferred to Portsmouth University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Technology.
Afterwards, Gavin relocated to London and worked as a project manager, eventually becoming a consultant for Swiss Re, a leading international provider of corporate solutions and services focused on risk transfer reinsurance. Síle and Gavin married and continued to establish roots in London.
“London was great. It’s similar to New York City. The pace of the city is fantastic,” Gavin says.
But after their first child, Síle and Gavin reconsidered their options, as the priorities of parenthood often require.
“It was time to step back and think about what we wanted to do,” Gavin says. “Do we want to raise a family in London? We had friends there, but were basically on our own with no family around us. Or do we want to go back to Derry?”
Having spent a few formative years as a child in London, Gavin understood the cultural benefits of raising a child in an international metropolis. But the pull to raise children amongst an extended family was stronger. “We moved back when my first daughter, Sophia, was just turning one, and since then we’ve had another daughter, Eva,” Gavin says. “And they’re the reason why we’re living here. It came purely down to the fact that we wanted them to have that extended family network. Their grandparents are here, and their aunts, uncles and cousins. We just felt it was a good place to bring kids up.”
Swiss Re supported Gavin’s decision and allowed him to telecommute from home and travel to their corporate offices as needed.
Aside from the advantages of being close to family, the move to Derry offered a promising and stable environment in which to raise children.
“It’s a safe area and the education system is excellent here,” Gavin says. “We felt we would’ve become a slave to the commute of London and everything else around it. We felt that the quality of life as a family unit and the work-life balance just wouldn’t have been as good.”
Before he left Derry years ago, Gavin was aware the town was changing politically and culturally. You only needed a newspaper to see it happening. Now, after more than a decade in London, Gavin returned to a Derry that was still changing, but steadying in a number of ways.
“There’s more stability here. Very much so over the years,” Gavin says. “I noticed it. And I think there’s been a lot more investment on the back of that. That’s where I see the change. The future looks brighter for younger people.”
“I wanted to be part of something that was just kicking off here.”
When Síle brought it to Gavin’s attention that OneSource was opening a service center in Derry, he wasn’t looking to change jobs; he was more than happy at Swiss Re. But during a bit of downtime, he took a closer look at OSV and started to review his options.
“I did a bit of research,” Gavin says, “and I thought, I like the look of this group. I do like what they’re looking to do. It’s a relatively young company growing quickly. I just thought there’s something here.”
With everything to gain, Gavin applied and was offered a position as a senior consultant. “When the job was offered to me, I had done my research in advance, so I didn’t have to think about it too much when the time came.”
Why leave an industry-leading international company with 150 years of history and experience to join a smaller, younger American company in the midst of international expansion? “I wanted to be part of something that was just kicking off here,” Gavin says. “I was familiar with Workday and I knew they were a good company to be partnered with.”
When pressed to identify an OSV company value that best aligns with the local culture, Gavin cites an international favorite. “One thing we do quite well here is have fun,” he says.
“But when you think about the rest of them, around transparency and so forth, the people here are genuinely good people,” Gavin says. “We genuinely look to do a good job. The people here take pride in their work. So in that way, I think the values fit quite well.”
As it turns out, OSV’s corporate values translate very well overseas.
“[OSV CEO] Brian [Williams] did a very good job of really telling us where the values came from,” Gavin says. “I think that really helped, because you can see that they’re quite personal to him. And you can see where the values themselves are quite intertwined.”
Being in this phase of OSV’s international expansion also offers a chance to be part of the company’s larger history. “There’s the OSV culture that we’re looking to bring in here. But we have an opportunity here to create a culture within a culture.” Gavin looks forward to having start-up style stories to hand down to new employees as the company continues to grow. “A culture can be built of that back of that, as well.”
“There’s renewed optimism. There are opportunities."
From Shirts to IT Systems
In the 1800s and early 1900s, Derry was world famous for textile trade and shirt manufacturing. The city produced and distributed some of the finest shirts in the world. In fact, the building that now houses OSV’s Derry office was once a crucial part of that industry. But over time, the industry fell away and opportunities diminished.
“We were known for exporting shirts globally,” Gavin explains. “Unfortunately, I think what happened was for a number of years we were exporting people. We had a talent drain. It meant that people had to go to London or go to the U.S. for work.”
Flash-forward to the global tech boom of the 1990s. Derry started opening customer service centers for tech companies, and the town once known for its fine quality shirts started innovating and aligning itself with the tech side of business processes. It has since repositioned itself as a hub for talented business professionals focused on technology.
“There’s definitely been a lot more IT-type jobs coming here. That’s where I’ve seen the change,” Gavin says. “The quality of jobs has improved. There’s stability. There’s a lot of foreign investment coming in. For me personally, when I came back, I could see opportunities. And there are a lot of opportunities.”
Now the urge to leave for a big city has been replaced with a desire to stay and make a great city like Derry even better. Gavin predicts a boomerang effect of sorts, with talent returning to Derry to take advantage of the growth and stability that arise when companies such as OSV invest in the area.
“I think you’ll see people moving back from the Londons, the Dublins and the Belfasts, because there’s opportunity here for them. I think that’s what OSV brings, from my perspective. Everything you have that comes with OSV, it raises the bar,” Gavin says. “There’s renewed optimism. There are opportunities. And that’s why I was comfortable moving back again.”
So, while Derry may not be Gavin’s birthplace, he certainly calls it home.