18 Jun Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Day Four

The entire class made it to Dublin, and we met last evening for check-in, and last minute logistics.  Today, we discussed leadership models in the morning, and had four terrific speakers throughout the day.

Our first speaker was Donal Cullen, CEO of Spanish Point.  Spanish Point is an IT organization and is named for a beach on the west coast of Ireland.  Like many of the speakers we hear from, Donal is a big proponent of using Enterprise Ireland (EI) to jump start new ventures.  Donal’s value proposition is building solutions for companies by starting with architecting solutions – not creating software.  He discussed how leaders often get assumptions wrong, and how it’s important to focus on a small number of things.  He also went on to say that the customer is not always right; but they are always important.  He believes success comes from being more focused, more passionate, and working harder than others.  He also believes that the ideal size team is four people, because that’s the size when a team polices out the slackers.  As an entrepreneur, he also discussed the “leaders” in large companies may have political skills, but they don’t always relate to leadership skills that produce results – especially in new ventures.

Our second guest speaker of the day was Ronan Loftus, the CEO of identiGEN.  Ronan has a PhD in genetics from Trinity College (where our class was held), and an MBA as well.  The firm is focusing on tracking protein DNA within the food distribution realm.  The trend of buying local is helping create a large market for the firm, as clients want to know the origin of their meals.  Like others today, Ronan described a large challenge being marketing and branding.

The managing director of National Chemical Company, Alan Looney was a speaker as well, and was recommended to us by the local Vistage chair.  Vistage came up a number of times as contributing to Alan’s leadership development and the growth of the firm.  He also made note that all Vistage members are successful… and perennially optimistic.  Alan is active in his community with a number of volunteer organizations, and urged the students to challenge under performance.

Kieran Daly, CEO of Shimmer Research, spoke to our students last year and was a hit again this year.  His company is experiencing tremendous success and growth, and remarkably, he hasn’t had a single turnover in four years!  The U.S. currently represents 30% of revenue, and they have now shipped to over 50 companies.

Lastly, we wrapped up the day watching Ireland soccer, and sharing drinks with some terrific graduate students from University College Dublin, Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.  Unlike our grad students, who are older working adults, the UCD students entered their program immediately following the under graduate work.

In two teams, the students will head out tomorrow for Maynooth to work with Wavebob, and Belfast to work with Maildistiller on strategic projects regarding channel strategies.

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