24 May Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Day 10
First up was Padraig Canavan, CEO, Singularity. He started his company 17 years, ago, and now has 250 employees with business in a number of countries. It was interesting that his “crucible” occurred at 11 years old when he didn’t pass a test to get into a prestigious school program. Some of his lessons learned he shared include:
- The closer to the market the better you’ll be.
- The more casual the relationships with clients the better.
- All about the people, period.
- Everyone sets three objectives per quarter and everyone sees them – and sees whether they were accomplished!
- Sales has to have faith and confidence because you have to sell things sometimes you haven’t yet created! Everyone is in sales, and everyone must be a resource for sales.
- You must be on a $100M market – at a minimum. The determinant of success.
- Inside coffee mug – expected behaviors aligned with values
Grainne Kelly, Director, BubbleBum, was a highly energetic and entertaining speaker. She started her company in March 2009, and was selling 9 months later. In the first year, sold 60,000 units in 17 countries. She was invited to present her idea on Dragon’s Den (Europe’s version of the US show, Shark Tank). She’s also a finalist for Ernst & Young’s entrepreneur of the year. She has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor and she had some zingers:
- On getting people to use plain English and cut the acronyms: “I have the attention span of a goldfish.”
- On making your luck: “Only the right thing can happen.”
- On delegating: “You don’t buy a dog to bark yourself.”
- On employees, customers and distributors: “Only work with people you like.”
- On humility: “You’re never too clever.”
- On conformity: “People don’t belong in boxes. It’s good to be different.”
We also heard from Ann-Marie Slavin, Managing Director, Opt2Vote, which specializes in elections management. Opt2Vote was just awarded a prestigious four-year multi-million pound contract for the provision of electronic counting in elections in Scotland.
Formed in 2003 in Londonderry, Opt2Vote has risen to become among the top three election service providers in the UK. With a turnover last year of £5M the company employs 28 people mostly in quality IT jobs.
Under Ann-Marie’s leadership Opt2Vote is recognized as being at the leading edge of innovations in elections management. It was the first company in the world to enable citizens to vote using Sky television and is currently developing and testing products to meet the UK government’s latest requirement for signature checking.
The mother of three young daughters, Ann-Marie also contributes significant energy and skills to the business community. Her range of roles includes past President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, the first female Chairman of Momentum, member of the Higher Education Council and Non-Executive Director of the Royal Mail Advisory Board. In addition she has somehow managed to take on other non-remunerative posts for the greater good of the ICT and her local community. Ann Marie seems to be a leader who has figured out the “balance thing,” and said, “No point being a busy fool!”
We also met with Theresa Madden, Head of Americas Trade Team, Invest Northern Ireland, who arranged many of the speakers we met this week. She has wonderful connections in Colorado, as she was the person that created a Northern Ireland presence in Denver.
Dr. Lisa Bradley, Head of Department of International Business, Department of International Business, University of Ulster took on a tour of the beautiful business school buildings, and was patient with our questions on culture, politics, and education. We are hopeful and optimistic that we’ve started what we hope will be a bridge between Ulster and the UC Denver!
Barry Henderson, Business Development Manager, C-TRIC (Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre) was gracious providing a tour of his facility. C-TRIC is a unique facility promoting and facilitating translational and clinical research, the primary objective of which is to reduce both the time to market and the costs associated with research and development of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics.
Lastly, Invest Northern Ireland and the City Council of Derry graciously provided us tours of Derry. Some of the students said the tours were the highlight of the trip so far. Some of the guides had been involved in the Troubles and had first-hand perspectives on the history. The picture below of Santander is the location of the bomb blast that occurred just 72 hours prior. This was an isolated incident, and Derry has made great strides and has an incredibly bright future.