Global IT services company CGI invests £6m in new Edinburgh office move

Global IT services company CGI opened its brand new Edinburgh office today – with a focus on some of the emerging technologies that are transforming the public sector.

Drones that scan buildings for defects and heat leakage, a global law enforcement and crime-fighting app, a primary and secondary teaching platform and robotic process automation (RPA) were all showcased at the Canadian firm’s plush new premises, which houses a hundred staff, on 81 George Street in the city.

Located across the road from the new WeWork office space, the opening adds to the tech offering on a street more famed for its luxury shopping than for cutting-edge digital products and services. CGI, which was previously located in the Gyle area of the city, has moved closer to one of its leading clients in Scotland, Edinburgh City Council, for which it provides extensive IT service support as well as numerous other public sector clients including The Scottish Government.

Tara McGeehan, President CGI UK and Lindsay McGranaghan, Vice President and Scotland Business Unit leader, welcomed city business contacts – as well as key clients – to the inauguration of the new open plan third floor office suite, which commands views across the Firth of Forth and also towards Edinburgh Castle.

Tara McGeehan, President CGI UK, opened the new office on 81 George Street. Pictures by Stewart Attwood

McGeehan said: “We’re really, really proud of being here today and officially opening this office. We’ve got a long and proud history of working in Scotland – some of my team from Aberdeen are here, from Borders, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Philsophically, CGI are very much in a position of coming to a town, setting up… having a local presence and letting people work in their local communities and with their local communities.

“Our Edinburgh office represents a significant investment in our Scotland business unit. It highlights CGI’s determination to grow its presence further in the Scottish capital and beyond.”

McGranaghan added: “It’s only about three or four years ago that we were out at the Gyle; we had about a hundred members in total across Scotland, so to see over 100 members sitting in this office today, coupled with the work that we’re doing down in the Borders, in Glasgow and up in Aberdeen is truly something I think that not only I’m really proud of but all of the members and the teams who have supported this amazing journey. The metro model as we call it is really important in CGI and actually really important to our members in terms of our sense of community, so in addition, to use locally servicing our communities and clients, which makes a real difference because actually we’re consumers of a lot of the services that we’re delivering, particularly with our local authority clients, but also in terms of our community engagement.”

In terms of that corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement, McGragaghan, who at 36 has become one of CGI’s youngest ever senior leaders, highlighted CGI’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) Camps, which run across the country aimed at getting young people into tech careers, a ‘bring your daugther to work’ day, designed to address the gender imbalance in technology careers, and an environmental initiative in the Borders to plant 5,500 trees across 250 acres to offset the company’s carbon footprint.

Cllr Adam McVey, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The opening of this new office cements CGI’s commitment to Edinburgh’s growing reputation as a global tech hub. This comes after the city’s accolade of being Europe’s most attractive destination for tech businesses to locate to. Their investment in the heart of the city confirms the importance CGI places on the relationship it has with both the city and with the council.

“The council and CGI have been working together since 2016 trying to modernise a lot of our functions, a lot of our services, a lot of our back office facilities, to help channel better delivery for the people of Edinburgh and I think we’re on quite a long journey to get to where we want to be: we’ve got big aspirations for our city and hopefully CGI mirrors that.”

The company, which has invested £6m in the new 9,529 sq ft office on a 10-year lease, with capacity for more than 250 staff, showcased some of its leading-edge products and services as part of the lunchtime event on Monday; it demonstrated a new drone technology from one of its suppliers Balmore Group, which scans buildings for defects and produces thermal imaging to track energy emissions. Initial scans of The Tontine shared office space in Glasgow has the potential to identify significant building work at a fraction of the cost of employing technicians to manually check the exterior of buildings. The company, which deployed a peregrine falcon to protect its drones from the threat of seagulls, found a number of ‘code red’ flaws in the building, which is owned by Glasgow City Council and provides space for tech start-ups.

CGI’s cutting-edge proprietary software i-D360, which has the potential to enable global law enforcement agencies among the ‘Five Eyes’ nations (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to share evidence and track organised crime suspects using sophisticated data analysis techniques was also demonstrated, as was classroom education tool Empowered Education and robotic process automation (RPA) software, which is helping Glasgow City Council reduce its reliance on manual data entry from paper based forms, freeing up staff to do more interesting and stimulating work.

Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent and consulting services firms in the world, employing 77,500 staff (or ‘members’ as the company calls them) across the globe. In Scotland, the business works with more than 24 third party suppliers (two thirds are SMEs), which redirects more than £10m back into the Scottish economy every year.