The French investment in Kaunas that turned into impetus: the success story of Dassault Systemes
Last year, French direct investments in Lithuania amounted to 506.28 million. France is also the second main export country after Germany (according to the data from the 4th quarter of 2019) for Lithuanian business. Among the well-known French investments in Kaunas are a wheat refinement company, construction company, sporting goods chain, and service companies, one of which – Dassault Systemes – is successfully operating and growing in Kaunas.
Dassault Systemes is the second-largest software development company in Europe. Simulation solutions and digital twins produced by the company – from autonomous cars to virtual heart surgeries – are what advanced industry, science, and business today could not be imagined without. The French software developers own 12 brands, their products are developed in 66 laboratories and used by 25 million users. In total, the corporation employs over 19,000 people and operates in 40 countries around the world.
Lithuania appeared on Dassault Systemes’ map two and a half years ago when the French acquired the old-timers of the IT innovation market in Kaunas No Magic Europe UAB. The merger and integration took several years. The official name change from No Magic to Dassault Systemes was registered at the Registry Center in early January this year. And this was just one of the smaller changes that the Kaunas company, which joined the family of the global giant, had to implement.
Communication is key to a smooth merger
Photo: Gitana Strazdauskė.
“Of course, we had to quickly integrate and intensively adapt to the internal procedures, management policy, and personnel system of the French as well as join the joint campaigns. Naturally, a large corporation has rules and regulations that equally apply everywhere, and we must follow them,” Gitana Strazdauskė, the longtime Head of No Magic and currently the Head of Dassault Systemes in Lithuania, said. According to her, it posed challenges and provided opportunities. It took a lot of work and a lot of attention had to be paid to timely and clear internal communication for integration to be perceived as a natural and normal day-to-day process rather than something intimidating and disturbing for employees.
“We worked a lot by talking and explaining and it yielded relevant results. Last year we recorded a record low staff turnover of just a few percent in the team, which means that the integration year not only did not reduce people’s willingness to work here but even increased our attractiveness to both the existing employees and the new talent,” the head of the company spoke confidently.
Attracts with interesting projects
And the company really has something that attracts employees. Before the merger and now Kaunas’ team has been famous for its creative spirit and interesting products, such as MagicDraw, which is designed to model complex software and hardware systems, organizational architectures, and business processes. Kaunas Dassault Systemes’ customers include such names as NASA, BOEING, AUDI, or SCHNEIDER.
The spacious office provides a comfortable and safe workplace
The Lithuanian unit was assigned to CATIA, the most prestigious and luxurious of the twelve brands managed by Dassault Systemes. Accordingly, it was decided to move to the premises that would reflect the new face of the company, located in a new business center in Savanorių Avenue. Over 500 thousand euros were invested in the offices and the company settled there in April this year. Investments were also accompanied by increased salary budgets and an increase in the turnover of the Kaunas branch by more than a third (38% in 2019).
By the way, the pleasant coincidence was that the relocation to the new spacious offices made it much easier to adapt to the security requirements of the pandemic. “Our employees were able to return to work early, although we had to ensure that the conditions met double requirements – the ones imposed by Lithuanian institutions as well as by the Dassault Systemes.” Therefore, the office space of almost 2,000 square meters, designed not as an open space but divided into corridors, can be used comfortably and safely by all employees of the company, leaving many opportunities for those who want to work from home.”
French is not required
Although investment attraction experts mention that one of the biggest obstacles for French investors to enter the Lithuanian service market more boldly is the relatively smaller number of Lithuanians who speak French, G. Strazdauskė says that their company did not face this problem. “The main language of our global corporation is English. Even the people, who start working for the company in France, must know both French and English, so our employees have never experienced any inconvenience of not being able to communicate with colleagues from other branches across the world.”
In total, Dassault Systemes currently employs over a hundred employees in Kaunas. Most of them are highly qualified IT specialists in various fields. The future plans include growing the R&D department by inviting programmers, analysts, quality engineers, and other technical professionals to join the team, thus further strengthening the role of Lithuanians as product developers in the global IT giant.