Taken from Silicon Republic Leaders’ Insights, Sigmar’s Adrian McGennis discusses building a brand overseas and why a ‘land and expand’ model isn’t always the best option. Adrian McGennis is CEO and co-founder at Irish recruitment company Sigmar. Prior to Sigmar, McGennis was managing director with Marlborough and he has been involved in two successful IPOs. He holds a degree in engineering from University College Dublin and has garnered several postgraduate management awards. Founded in 2002, Sigmar has been named as a Best Managed Company by Deloitte for the past three years. Last August it opened a new European talent hub in Co Kerry as it announced plans to create 50 roles. Describe your role and what you do. As part of a team to grow a meaningful, profitable, worthy business and enjoy the experience – this involves developing people in a positive, learning, achieving culture. As well as building great relationships with clients and candidates, we are passionate about contributing to community. How do you prioritise and organise your working life? At all levels we have really great teams at Sigmar, so we get a strong buy-in to the company goals. This will be the basis of prioritisation. Maintaining the culture is the basis for values and growth, so spend a lot of time with colleagues and customers. Thankfully, our partnership with Groupe Adéquat has been very positive and they are like-minded in values, so prioritisation and organisation haven’t changed much. What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them? Having enjoyed 10 years of strong growth, the potential for economic uncertainty could present a challenge. We are talking with clients more and have the scale and agility to provide flexible solutions for them. Thankfully, we have been innovative in using technology, but we need to be constantly aware of optimising our offering utilising better communication, AI, analytics etc. What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on? We are very positive on the sector, but the rate of change is increasing. We see, therefore, new opportunities in managed services, new sectors, onsite staffing, statement of work etc. Our new model based in Tralee, servicing the IT market in Germany, is working and scaling really well and forms the basis of expanding into new European and US markets. Talent solutions really is an exciting place to be right now. What set you on the road to where you are now? When we completed our MBO in 2009, many of the team were involved. We had ambitions to develop a commercially strong business (which has been successful), but also to build a great Irish business which would be recognised internationally. Innovations like the Talent Summit, Ireland Gateway to Europe and National Employment Week have helped position ourselves to achieve both these goals. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it? We did underestimate the importance of brand when expanding overseas in 2005/2006. Some of our overseas operations did create impact, but with limited resources it was a challenge to develop deep routes through a ‘land and expand’ model. Now, we are successfully servicing clients and developing relationships in overseas locations before opening a significant office. How do you get the best out of your team? The quality and commitment of the team is high so, really, allow them to do their job! We encourage risk and learn from any failures. We do have strong respect and equally celebrate success. From day one we all agreed to our culture/values, so anyone joining Sigmar is clear on where we are going and, hopefully, how to get there. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it? We did underestimate the importance of brand when expanding overseas in 2005/2006. Some of our overseas operations did create impact, but with limited resources it was a challenge to develop deep routes through a ‘land and expand’ model. Now, we are successfully servicing clients and developing relationships in overseas locations before opening a significant office. How do you get the best out of your team? The quality and commitment of the team is high so, really, allow them to do their job! We encourage risk and learn from any failures. We do have strong respect and equally celebrate success. From day one we all agreed to our culture/values, so anyone joining Sigmar is clear on where we are going and, hopefully, how to get there. STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and other demographics. Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector? What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to be more inclusive? When I did engineering (a long time ago!), in a class of 250 there were maybe 10 girls, so we’ve improved a bit since then. I do think ongoing positive discussions have helped and will continue to redress the gender balance. We have hosted a few events on diversity and specifically gender balance, and I believe an honest dialogue is required to actually make real change. I believe most people agree where we want to get to, but healthy, honest conversations and listening are required to get us there. As it goes, the recruitment sector has been very inclusive and probably really embraces diversity better than most, maybe because it is a relatively new sector or it’s a meritocracy. Who is your role model and why? If I had to choose a role model right now, it would honestly be Joe Schmidt. I’ve heard a few current and ex-players speaking recently and they are 100pc clear on the objectives and plans. He also seems to instil authenticity, and even humility, into high performance. The analytics, data recording/management, team building, results focus are all very impressive, but the simple imparting a message to ‘do your job’ really works and seemed to be enjoyed. What books have you read that you would recommend? I liked Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Didn’t necessarily agree with all his theories, but does make one think. I was recommended Legacy by James Kerr, and I have to say it does simply articulate the collective belief in high standards exhibited by the All Blacks. I am now recommending it to some of our teams to read/review/implement. What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week? Phones, a computer and coffee are all good – oh, and a pint on Friday evening. We do use various tools to gather regular data across the company which is important, but I feel equally important is to speak with people about what we need to do as a result of the data.y to Europe and National Employment Week have helped position ourselves to achieve both these goals.
In last week’s blog we looked at 5 Tips to Build Your Professional Network, this week we want to take a look at why networking is so important to your professional development. It can be a daunting task for those who wouldn’t consider themselves overly social, but the rewards to your professional and personal growth are endless. 1. Get Help and Be Helped One of the most significant parts of building a professional network is the opportunity it presents you to ask others for help when you need it and to help other people in your network. It happens to all of us at some point when we need an extra pair of hands to help us solve a problem. All jobs present bumps in the road and it’s great to have a professional network you can lean on in times of struggle and vice versa you can lend a helping hand when your network need help. 2. Be Inspired by Ideas Networking can be so beneficial to our creativity and inspire us to do more in our work. If you’re feeling a little lost or not as pumped about your job as you once were, go to a work event or conference and start talking to people! These people can have a similar role as you or a completely different role, or just work in the same industry. Don’t focus on what level they are either. Different levels of experience will bring you all kinds of different insights. It doesn’t matter what role they are in or what level they are, they will always share something new with you. It’s a great way to come back to the office with new and exciting ideas. 3. Build a Good Reputation Building your network will get you known among those in your industry. More visibility is a great way to build your reputation. Getting yourself out there and being noticed by your peers will help you make a name for yourself. Word of mouth can go very far and if you make enough good impressions a level of trust for you and what you do will follow. This will stand to you if you decide to apply for a new role. You may not know your interviewer directly, but they may have a connection to you through a mutual contact, who has nothing but positive things to say about you. 4. Grow your Confidence Career advancement isn’t the only benefit to networking. It can help with your personal growth as well. By continually putting yourself out there and meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, will help you to build invaluable social skills and self-confidence that you can take with you anywhere. The more you network, the more you’ll grow and learn. 5. Gain New Friendships The last benefit doesn’t impact your professional career, but it doesn’t make it any less significant. Spending time socialising and building your network will naturally lead you to making friends. Some of the strongest and long-standing friendships have started as work connections. The people you network with will be like-minded with similar aspirations and struggles as you so it’s not unlikely that a work relationship could develop into a friendship. We have heard it time and time again, advancing in your career is just as much about who you know as what you know. That’s why networking is so important to your career, but networking can benefit you personally just as much as it can professionally. Spending time networking will be very worthwhile and the best part is that it’s never too late to start investing in your network.
Almost two weeks have passed since Talent Summit, yet the excitement from the event is still very much alive. I met with Talent Summit Founder, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig to ask him to share some of his key takeaways and highlights from Talent Summit 2019. Kate Costello – “Have the Heart of a Lion Even When You Feel Like a Mouse” After being asked for his top five takeaways, without even a moment to reflect, Robert started with “Kate Costello’s speech was a particularly significant take away”. Kate, who is only 16, spoke at Talent Summit to present the Dermot Costello Outstanding Leadership Award in honour of her father to the Irish women’s hockey team who reached the World Cup finals for the first time ever last summer. In her speech Kate told the story of a mouse who wanted to look bigger and stronger than those he feared so they would fear him. He asked a wizard to change him from a mouse to a cat, then a cat to a dog and then a dog to a lion. After some time, the wizard said, “with the heart of a mouse there is nothing I can do for you”. It’s a powerful statement to those in leadership. Being a leader means being brave in your actions to lead and guide others. You need to be courageousness to lead beyond the odds, have the heart of a lion even if sometimes we feel like a mouse. Robert reflected on the parallel message in Kate’s story of how we can leave a lasting impression on those close to us, shaping and activating change beyond what we expect and, in many cases, never even knowing we’ve impacted on a person. “The fact that Kate stood on the stage, eloquently recounting a story her father once told her, shows the personal impact we can have on those around us, can be truly transformative, beyond what we intend it to be. The irony here is that Kate not only showed the “heart of a lion” as she presented the award to her own heroes, but she herself was demonstrating outstanding leadership through her actions. My takeaway from this is that we inspire and activate those around us, every day in most cases without even realising it.” “Last year, I recalled how spending time with Dermot, was often like a life lesson, as you would come away with a different twist on whatever topic we discussed. It’s clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree… Thanks for that lesson Kate!” Robert Gibbs, Chief Human Capital Officer, NASA – The Power of Positive Intent The NASA transformation story shows very clearly how purpose is our defining competitive advantage. Robert reflected on Robert Gibbs keynote which explained how NASA’s raison d'être boils down to the flourishment of human kind which allows them to operate on the fringe of what is commercially viable, giving them the ultimate competitive advantage. “Robert Gibbs also reminded us that change is a ‘contact sport’, it’s personal, constant and unpredictable, requiring continuous communication and feedback”. When Robert later spoke on a panel with Niamh O’Beirne, Partner, EY and Barry Rudden, Director, Sigmar Recruitment, what surfaced in the conversation was the power of presuming positive intent. Belief goes a long way and sometimes to get the best out of people you need to believe in them. Margaret Heffernan – Leading Change Is Human During Margaret Heffernan’s keynote she emphasized how building social capital takes time, focus and energy and if the ingredients are right, can bind human capital to achieve beyond measure. The strength of the social capital creates the foundation for companies to succeed, the components of which are uniquely human; kindness, helpfulness, warmth and candour. Robert went on to say “The thing that struck me is how the ubiquity of loyalty, friendship and comradery in the workplace create a shared commitment to success, something we may struggle to replicate in the gig economy. In short being trusting and trustworthy is the basis of creating a just culture”. Ian McClean – Every Conversation Matters Given that Talent Summit is a humanic conference, Ian argued that conversation is where the rubber hits the road in expressing our humanity. It reminds us that how we make people feel in our presence is the true measure of our engagement. Robert added “every conversation can either create a gap or close a gap in our daily connectivity and we need to be mindful of the residue that every conversation leaves”. Monica Lewinsky - The Importance of Being an Upstander Robert quoted a Mexican proverb when introducing Monica, which in mays ways captured the spirit of her story; “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t realise we were seeds”. Monica Lewinsky’s story, in many ways reflects this juxtaposition of humanity and technology. As the internet catapulted her into the limelight bringing the uninvited attention of the world upon her, it was the compassion of those around her, coupled with personal resilience that brought her back from the brink. Reflecting the theme of this year’s Talent Summit, it’s the human element that has enabled Monica to lead change through her social activism and create a global anti-cyberbullying revolution. “Monica has turned personal trauma into grace and raised a profusion of lessons we can apply in our personal lives, working worlds and within our family units. My main takeaway from spending time with Monica is that each of us can make a difference by showing compassion through our actions, by being an "up-stander". Monica spoke about this in the context of societal change, but the glaringly obvious parallel in our working world, is that as some resist change and others passively act as bystanders, we truly need to firmly stand “for” the purpose behind the change we hope to achieve.” Mirroring Margaret’s Heffernan’s comment on workplace loneliness and Kate’s story of the need for the heart of a lion, when we sometimes feel like a mouse, Monica harpooned the message of individual impact home when she said, “there is power in small numbers when there is consistency over time.” We need to create a narrative steeped in empathy to be truly compassionate in all aspects of our lives. “Our purpose at Talent Summit is to create better working lives as the world of work augments and being more compassionate is really what it all boils down to! "Tanx" for sharing such a powerful message Monica.” …..and tanx to all who supported, spoke, attended and participated at Talent Summit 2019. See you next year!
Social activist, global public speaker and contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at Talent Summit 2019, for which tickets are now available for purchase. In recent years, Monica has been at the forefront of leading global societal change around the “culture of humiliation”. At the heart of Monica’s personal story and what she advocates for is more human compassion and personal resilience, unique human traits and actions that are fundamental to leading change in transformative times. Talent Summit will take place on Wednesday 27th of February 2019 at the Convention Centre Dublin. Talent Summit has grown to become recognised as one of the most respected and largest HR conferences in Europe. With over 20 global thought leaders contributing and speaking, this summit is aimed at business owners, corporate executives, HR leaders and those with a professional interest in shaping the workforce of tomorrow. Talent Summit was founded by Sigmar Recruitment and is proudly supported by EY Ireland. Welcoming the announcement, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, founder of Talent Summit commented: “With the talent agenda ranking as the number one priority for business leaders around the globe, we need to reimagine how we create better workplaces and working lives in an increasingly complex world of work. At its core, Talent Summit is a humanics conference focused on people and our interaction with technology. The workforce is augmenting, becoming more digital, diverse, global and automation-savvy which presents major opportunities for HR leaders to influence how their organisations invest in people in parallel with technology to attract, organise, develop and drive the performance of their people. This year’s theme is “The Talent Revolution; Leading Change” where we will unlock global thought leadership on how HR leaders can lead desired change to develop their workforces.” “We are delighted to partner with Talent Summit again this year. In an environment characterised by disruption and uncertainty, rapid technological development and fast-paced economic growth, successfully leading organisational transformation remains critical. Having culture change and employee experience at the forefront of transformation will be central to achieving sustained success. In addition, to support continued growth, businesses in Ireland need innovative workforce-planning strategies in place to attract the best talent in the market, and to retain and up-skill their existing workforce, equipping them with the skills and expertise needed for the future. The world of work is changing, and a changing working world needs a new approach, with focused and strategic leadership. The calibre of speakers at Talent Summit this year is second to none, and we’re honoured to be part of such an inspiring international line-up. The event promises to be full of stimulating discussion and we’re looking forward to meeting colleagues from Ireland and around the world,” Niamh O’Beirne, Partner, People Advisory Services at EY Ireland, added. The central theme of Talent Summit this year is The Talent Revolution: Leading Change. Key topics covered on the day will include: The New Talent Supply Chain: Buy, Build, Borrow or Bots Unlocking Performance through Engagement. Leadership in the Digital age Leading Organizational Transformation & Cultural Preservation Future of Learning, Development and re-skilling Keynotes from over 20 national and international expert speakers will be given on talent; attraction, development, leadership, performance and transformation strategies. There will be real life case studies from successful global and local brands, as well as panel discussions and audience Q&A. Tickets for Talent Summit are now available for purchase. Please see www.talentsummit.ie
Changing the way that employees understand and interact with culture can significantly increase engagement in the workplace. We’ve listed 7 ways to increase engagement among employees through cultural realignment: 1. Talk About Culture Management need to communicate the culture of the company to all stakeholders in order for everyone else to understand what the company believes in. Buy-in from management is essential. 2. Energise Existing Jobs Offer job rotation, job sharing and combine tasks so that staff are not doing the same thing every day. Introducing a new task which will improve abilities or push employees to learn new skills will motivate staff to improve in their role. Forming self-directed teams can help employees feel like they are in control of their jobs and have a say in the company. 3. Hire for Fit When hiring for new staff it is important that companies don’t just hire people with the right skills, without judging if they will fit in with the company culture. An introverted project manager can be detrimental to an IT project so knowing your culture and the culture of the job role you are advertising is paramount. If outsourcing the hiring process to a recruitment company, it is important that the company understands the culture that you are portraying. In a climate where new recruits are hard to keep and are constantly changing jobs for a better company fit, knowing both the culture of the company and the role can save a company time and money 4. Leverage Manager/Employee Relationship Employee satisfaction relies quite closely on the affiliation they have with their manager. Frequent praise and recognition will empower employees to keep up the good work but if managers are too busy to take notice of their team or to spend time talking with them this bond will turn stale, leading to eroded trust and confidence on both sides of the relationship. Taking the time to schedule meetings with team members and keeping note of the work that your team is doing will leverage this relationship allowing a confiding and open connection. 5. Upward Mentoring Mentoring does not always have to be downward. For employees that have been in the company for a longer period of time and understand the inner working of the company they can provide valuable insight that managers may not have thought of before. Fresh eyes can alert companies to newer technologies and more efficient ways of doing jobs so do not discount something until you have tried it 6. Job Referral Bounties Offering rewards for employees finding and placing workers in your company that suit your culture can prove a successful recruitment strategy. Presenting long-term bounties are even better as employees are motivated to help others progress through impromptu coaching and team working. 7. Measure Improvements Send out surveys every two to three months to measure key performance indicators to see if the culture is changing for the better and if people are becoming more engaged. Measuring the profit and productivity levels in the company overtime can also highlight how successful the project is. Conducting six monthly reviews where employee satisfaction rates are measured and bench-marked can show if some employees are lacking culture fit. Having a programme in place to help these employees find their feet can further increase engagement in the company as you are showing staff that you value them.
What a fantastic year 2018 was for Sigmar Recruitment. We achieved a lot and had some fun along the way. Here's a look back at our year.. January In January we brought all our staff from our Dublin, Cork, Galway and Tralee offices together for our annual company meeting. It was great to get everyone together to discuss company developments and psych ourselves up for the year ahead. February February was a really exciting month for us in Sigmar. Firstly, we were announced as one of the Best Medium Workplaces at the Great Place to Work Awards. Followed by the news of our strategic partnership with French staffing giant Groupe Adéquat. And finally, we held Ireland’s largest HR conference, Talent Summit in Dublin’s Convention Centre. Talent Summit has grown year on year with over 650 HR leaders in attendance, showcasing the latest thinking on talent topics from around the world. We were honoured to have the most viewed TEDTalk speaker of all time, Sir Ken Robinson headline the event. March We can’t speak about March without mentioning the snow. The whole country came to a standstill and we were compelled to close our offices.That didn't stop our Galway team from achievening their best month ever (since opening in 2005). After the snow storm passed we had a couple a nights of celebration as we were announced as winner of the HR Supplier of the Year award and Deloitte Best Managed Company award. April April was another busy month. We hosted our Gateway to Europe events in Boston and Washington to provide practical information for US corporates who are interested in establishing operations in Ireland and the EU. We also held a pub quiz in aid of our charity partner Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. May In May a brave group of Sigmar staff, including our CEO, Adie McGennis took part in the Malin 2 Mizen cycle for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. They cycled the entire length of Ireland on behalf of the charity - a phenomenal achievement! Talent Summit Cork also took place in May in the Clayton Hotel, Cork. June In June we held our second regional Talent Summit in Galway in the g Hotel. A group of Sigmar ladies took part in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on behalf of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. July We held our Summer BBQ in Opium, Dublin. All our offices came together to enjoy the good weather and some tasty BBQ food and beers. August In August we announced our new “European Talent Hub” Sigmar IT International in Tralee, Co Kerry. We launched the office offering 50 jobs to candidates from “all backgrounds” regardless of experience and education, to fill the positions. September "40 Kilometres, 48,000 steps, hamstring gone, shin splints, hips need replacement! Just over 6 and a half hours!!............totally worth it!!" - Tom Deane. Tom Deane once again pushed himself to his physical limits in the name of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland taking part in the Head 2 Head walk from Howth to Bray! October In October the Boston College Ireland Business Council hosted their Global Leadership Symposium in City Hall in Dublin. This exclusive event welcomed 150 leaders from the Irish business, political community as well as a c-level delegation travelling over from Boston. November The 12th annual National Recruitment Federation Awards took place in the Shelbourne Hotel on Friday November 30th. Sigmar were delighted to attend and to come away with not one but two awards on the night, Best in Practice Technical, IT & Telecoms and NRF Cert RP Graduate of the Year: Julie Valentine. December We finished off the year with a bang, sending 88 of our staff to Belgium to enjoy two nights in the beautful Bruges and our Tralee IT International team were treated to two nights in Alicante. For those who couldn’t attend either were given a lunch in Dublin and Cork. Celebrations all around!
A new survey conducted by Jobs.ie has found 46% of workers feel resentful of a colleague who is consistently late for work and 50% of respondents in senior management positions said that colleagues arriving late for work creates workplace animosity. Half of employees said that they would like to see flexible working hours, and a further 27% would opt to work from home. The employee punctuality study by Jobs.ie also found that the most common excuses for being late include Traffic (59%) Oversleeping (33%) Weather (26%) The survey also found that 20% admit to being dishonest when explaining why they were late for work. Just over 40% of employers are said to have a 'zero tolerance' policy for lateness in the workplace, enforcing punishments if employees fail to show up on time with one in four employers surveyed admitting they have fired an employee for consistent lateness. Among those surveyed on their employer's attitude to punctuality, 41% described being punctual for work as absolutely essential. Some 37% said there are no real consequences for being late, while 8% said there is a casual approach to punctuality and employees arrive when they wish, and 10% said that provided an individual gets through their work, nobody really notices what time they start work. Overall, 96% of all employees said that they always arrive to work on time, with over half of employees (59%) aiming to be in work at least 15 minutes ahead of their scheduled start time. But those who work nine to five prove to be the least punctual - with less than half (47%) arriving to work on time every day within the past 12 months. 71% of respondents who work early morning shifts and 71% of those who work night shifts were always on time in the past year. Jobs.ie general manager, Chris Paye, said: "It may come as a surprise to many people that Irish workers are actually a very punctual bunch and take great pride in being on time or even early for work. Given this context, it's inevitable that tensions can arise in the workplace if one colleague is consistently late without a valid excuse. One potential solution is moving towards greater workplace flexibility, particularly in relation to start and finish times and remote working facilities. However, this is not a universal solution and may not be effective in all organisations.
Dublin, Tuesday August 14, 2018 – Sigmar today announces the creation of 50 jobs in Co. Kerry. The positions are for international recruiters to work in the company’s European Talent Hub, which has just opened in Tralee. Sigmar is currently seeking candidates to fill all of the vacant positions and calls for applicants from all backgrounds regardless of experience and education. Sigmar is investing in the development of a bespoke, world-class learning & development programme designed to equip individuals with all of the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful international recruitment specialists. The first of its kind in Ireland, the European Talent Hub will harness international talent for other international markets from its base in Tralee. The Sigmar employees in Kerry will be filling roles in IT for European markets with candidates from other countries. Earlier this year, Sigmar announced a strategic partnership with French staffing giant Groupe Adéquat. The partnership deal is structured through a staged equity investment over a five-year period that will see Groupe Adéquat take majority interest. Both companies are dominant players in their respective markets and are seeking to expand nationally within Ireland and internationally through organic growth and acquisition. The European Talent Hub in Tralee marks the partnership’s first significant investment in Ireland. On making the jobs announcement, Sigmar Recruitment CEO Adrian McGennis comments: “Ireland has the talent to capitalise on current international recruitment opportunities. This investment will kick-start the group’s international growth initially in Germany, then other parts of Europe and the US. Sigmar has been very supportive of regional development and this investment proves our belief in the business case for regionalisation. This European Talent Hub will be a key element of Sigmar’s stated international growth. It’s also an operation where we can develop and test new technologies including robotics and Artificial Intelligence. We have been working on the processes, technology and markets for some time to accelerate our international expansion. “Shaun O’Shea heads up the project. He is at the very top of European recruitment and he is from Tralee, so is eager to give opportunities to ambitious individuals in the region.” Shaun O’Shea, Sigmar Head of European Recruitment adds: “As a Tralee native, I am truly delighted to help bring such a positive jobs announcement to the region. One of our deciding factors was the research into the area which highlighted the huge talent pool of ambitious individuals who we believe we can nurture with our experience and skills to help build new exciting career paths. “We are offering exciting and highly rewarding careers for individuals coming from all backgrounds with a core focus on sales and consultancy. Due to our substantial investment into R&D we believe our consultants will be working on new processes and tools which will shape our industry on a global scale for years to come.” Speaking following the announcement, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: I warmly welcome Sigmar’s decision to open their European Talent Hub in Tralee. This new facility is a great vote of confidence in what Kerry and the South West have to offer, and a further example of the success of the Government’s commitment under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs to provide quality jobs in regional locations. Ireland has a skilled and talented workforce, and I have no doubt that Sigmar will find the right individuals here to enable them to grow their European activities in the coming years. CEO of IDA Ireland, Martin Shanahan said: “Attracting investment into regional locations is a key focus for IDA Ireland. Having a company of the calibre of Sigmar open a European Talent Hub is a huge vote of confidence in Kerry and the South West Region, showing confidence that the required skills pool is available there and demonstrating that international companies can successfully locate and scale their operations in regional locations such as this. The 50 jobs being created will provide a significant boost to the local economy. I wish Shaun and his team every success here, I will follow Sigmar’s progress with interest and assure the company of IDA Ireland’s continued support.”
There can be no denying that the Irish economy has benefited hugely from foreign direct investment, particularly from the US. The statistics speak for themselves; today there are 700 US companies with Irish operations directly employing 165,000 people. But, the historical economical and political US-Irish relationship works both ways. With Murphys, Kennedys and O’Neills making their presence known in boardrooms the length and breadth of the 50 States, Ireland is well represented in the highest echelons on US soil. Likewise, the statistics on that side of the Atlantic speak for themselves; there are also 700 Irish companies with operations in the US who employ 100,000 US citizens. Recent changes to the political environment in the form of US protectionism has undoubtedly threatened our status as the location of choice for US companies, making up 12.1% of US FDI investment into Europe despite accounting for just 1% of the entire European economy. At a time of green shoots growth in the aftermath of one of the worst recessions the State has known, this hard won reputation in now in jeopardy. Speaking at the Boston College Ireland Business Council symposium, John Harthorne, CEO MassChallenge described protectionism as grabbing the largest slice of the pie. The responsibility of leadership should be to increase the size, not of the slice, but of the pie itself. So, what can business leaders do? Well, of course we can leave it to the Government and State agencies to do their job, or else we can get out there ourselves and deliver the message that Ireland is still a great place to do business. That is exactly what Ireland Gateway to Europe did on Wednesday April 11, 2018, when a delegation of more than 40 Irish business leaders arrived in Washington to deliver the message that Ireland’s trade partnership with the US is stronger than ever, is truly bilateral and that Ireland remains the location of choice for FDI in Europe. Ireland Gateway to Europe met with their US counterparts and political representatives on Capitol Hill with the purpose of strengthening existing business relationships and create new ones. This initiative is a not-for-profit annual trade mission made up of professional advisory firms who travel the US annually to provide a secure resource network for business expansion to help US investment succeed in setting up operations in Ireland. Founded in 2012 as a response to the economic challenges at that time of global recession, Ireland Gateway to Europe is now in its seventh year of US, UK and global trade missions. Ireland has traditionally enjoyed a particularly strong business, cultural and political relationship with the US. However, in light of the recent announcements of trade tariffs, data privacy, immigration and other protectionist policies, our concern is that there may be a perception that Irish-US trade linkages may have subsequently diminished. The fact of the matter is that the transatlantic economy grew stronger, not weaker over the past year, as did Irish -US trade with US exports to Ireland up 9% and imports to Ireland up 6%. While the Washington mission was the focal point of the 2018 trade mission, the second leg of the trip saw the group travel to Boston to engage directly with the US business community at the stateside launch of the transatlantic Boston College Ireland Business Council (BCIBC). Having launched this side of the Atlantic in Dublin last October, the US BCIBC launch took the form of a Global Leadership Symposium where US CEOs met with their Irish counterparts. The event looked at Global Leadership, where a panel of global CEOs discussed how they, as a transatlantic leadership community, can create opportunities against the backdrop of economic challenges. The purpose of the BCIBC is to establish new, and strengthen existing, transatlantic business ties between the two countries, and it is designed to enhance transatlantic business between the US and Ireland through creating connections that allow for entrepreneurial ventures to grow and prosper. The Global Leadership Symposium is one of a series of planned BCIBC CEO Exchange events that will take place twice annually over the coming years, both in Ireland and in the US. The nest event is scheduled for Dublin this coming October. Founded by the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, and Ireland, Gateway to Europe, and Chaired by Neil Naughton of GlenDimplex, the main aim of the BCIBC is to bring influential business leaders from both communities together once a year in Dublin and in Boston to create one deeply connected transatlantic trade artery. By establishing the BCICB, the tight commercial and social bonds we share with the US can be strengthened and build upon bilaterally, business to business, in spite of any potential external or internal protectionist political policies. It’s widely known that cultural ties between Massachusetts and Ireland are deep but possibly lesser known are the strength of economic ties with 11,000 people employed by Irish companies there and Ireland being the 6th largest exporter from MA. With threats from the uncertainty of the Brexit situation ringing in our ears from the East and murmurings of protectionism coming from the West, Ireland is again in a unique position to act as the economic transatlantic hub. What will the future hold? As it stands nobody knows for certain, but the community of transatlantic business leaders has a collective, critical role to play to ensure the future foundation of business relations is maintained for generations to come. Those business relationships benefit both Ireland and the US. Let’s both grow our slices of the pie by growing the pie itself. Article featured on The Business Post