MetLife officially opened its new Cary campus on Monday where more than 1,000 of the insurer’s employees now work.
Built over the past 19 months on the shores of Lake Crabtree, the campus’ two buildings are today filled with engineers, software developers and project managers tasked with building technology to better serve MetLife’s 100 million customers in 50 countries.
The Cary campus, along with a MetLife campus in Charlotte, are together one of the largest economic development projects in recent state history.
In 2013, MetLife was awarded a state incentives package worth more than $94 million in exchange for promises to create more than 2,600 jobs – split evenly between Cary and Charlotte – and invest $125.5 million in North Carolina.
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The Charlotte campus is a hub for the company’s U.S. retail business.
On Monday, MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian said the insurer had reached its hiring goals six months ahead of schedule.
“Our hiring has moved faster than we expected because of the rich talent pool and business friendly environment we have found in North Carolina,” he said. “We are more convinced than ever that we made the right decision in choosing Cary and Charlotte as hubs.”
MetLife joins a growing list of financial services companies that have established substantial operations in the Triangle. Others include Fidelity, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.
MetLife chose Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties to build the $110 million Cary campus, which features two 7-story, 213,500-square-foot buildings just off Weston Parkway. There is also room for a third building of similar size on the 26.5-acre campus.
The buildings are loaded with design elements that MetLife executives say are intended to create a more flexible and collaborative work environment. Features include a fitness center, coffee bar, outdoor basketball court and a variety of formal and informal meeting spaces where employees can write on the walls.
“The whole building is a workplace,” said Pamela Abalu, MetLife’s chief architect and global head of design and construction.
Abalu said the buildings were designed with four generations of workers in mind. The youngest of those generations, which Abalu called “generation Z,” are teenagers now but MetLife is already creating spaces that will appeal to them when they begin entering the workforce.
Employees sit or stand at adjustable desks that can be raised or lowered and have the choice of working in rooms that feature an Xbox, a treadmill and a “mother’s room” catering to the needs of parents.
“I don’t know how you go home working here,” joked Gov. Pat McCrory, who was among the officials attending the grand opening.
MetLife’s board of directors is in Cary this week to meet, and the company’s signature blimp flew over Raleigh and Cary for much of the day.
Kandarian said that the Cary Global Technology Campus will be an integral part of MetLife’s business going forward, as the insurer plans to spend $300 million a year on new technology.