21 Jun Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Day Seven

This morning, I met with the CEO of Trintech, Paul Byrne.  Paul heard about our program through an article Enterprise Ireland published back in March.  Trintech evolved from a company that was started in Ireland, was publicly traded, and is now owned by Spectrum Equity and has based their operations in Dallas.  Paul continues to be based in Dublin, and travels extensively.

Paul is a CEO with passion, vision, and an extremely strong work ethic.  He’s learned a lot about leadership through his powers of observation – i.e., watching effective and ineffective leaders over the years.  He is fully committed to developing his organization by creating a strong culture based on Self-Reliance (his words – not mine!), entrepreneurship, innovation, questioning, fun, and being a bit quirky!  He has reduced his direct reports to four, and describes them as a four-leaf clover.  They use the acronym I-Fit to describe their leadership approach:  “Infusing Fun into Trintech!”

Paul is an astute behaviorist, and a student of organizational culture.  He is keenly aware of the buying influences of the four generations currently in the work force, with Generation Z coming online in the next few years, which will make five generations.  As far as I can tell, that will be the most generations ever working together, which means inevitable strife, but tremendous opportunity if leaders are able to leverage strengths, create flexible work environments, and build cultures based on trust and teamwork.  The measure of success, or the canary in the coalmine, will be employee retention.  When recruitment and retention of top talent is high, it’s an indicator the strategy is on target, and financial results will soon follow.

Paul and I discussed the opportunity for Irish companies to develop strong US channel strategies, and that requires local sales professionals as well as a tight branding strategy targeted with specific value propositions towards various segments.  This is where U.S. graduate students may be ideally positioned to work and learn in consultative roles.  The U.S. represents a tremendous market for Irish companies, and Ireland represents the gateway to Europe for America.  The mutual benefit is what will provide the ideal business ecosystem for future leaders to gain invaluable international experience.

Later in the day, I visited the student team in Maynooth who are working on a channel strategy at Wavebob.  On June 8th, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins named Wavebob a ‘Champion of EU Research‘ at a recent ceremony in Dublin, Ireland.  They continue to garner international attention as a model green tech company.  Andrew was an extremely gracious host, and brought me up to date on the business model, and where the student’s project fit into the grand scheme of things.  We were fortunate to have been introduced to Wavebob by the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC, and we learned they now have a presence in Maryland.  Wavebob seems destined to make a significant contribution to our world, and it’s readily apparent that they are a nimble organization that knows how to adapt and thrive.  There may also be an opportunity for our future students to work with the School of Business at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, which is something we need to explore for future initiatives.

The students have made great progress in short order, and in Stephen Covey’s terms, their project is allowing Wavebob to focus on very important work that isn’t necessarily critical for today.  As the CEO put it, the project is something he can’t dedicate resources to at the moment, because he’d have to shift resources from critical priorities, however determining whether a channel is viable will determine where those resources are deployed in the near future to create new growth opportunities.  The students report that the work is challenging, and definitely graduate-level work.  They’re working great as a team, and have moved quickly to leverage each other’s strengths and minimize any potential conflict.    In fact, one person on the team is leveraging his past work on sustainability while another student is using her language skills to write and communicate while conducting research.

The Belfast team is also making great progress at Maildistiller, and is developing clarity for the target market, and the prospect profile.  This will help determine the most appropriate value proposition to differentiate the offering.  For example, it’s clear that any new clients will be required to switch from a competitor, and this is quite a different message than “creating” a new market.  In the end, Maildistiller has an offering that is highly customizable and scalable, which will assist in its efforts to gain market share.  Like a lot of new ventures, asking the right questions at the right time is the key to focus, and the team in Belfast is making a significant contribution very quickly.

The bottom line is that our future business leaders are gaining tremendous international experience that will afford them the opportunity to take on great responsibilities while providing deliverables for Irish companies that are meaningful, impactful, and valued by the clients.

*The picture is of Barberstown Castle in Maynooth (County Kildare), which is now a hotel and restaurant.  It was once owned by Eric Clapton, and it’s where Andrew took us to lunch today!

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