28 Jun Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Day Fourteen

Wow – where to start?!

We showed up in Northern Ireland’s Technology, Science & Innovation Community blog yesterday!

We attended an excellent event on Cloud Computing with over 200 business leaders in Belfast this morning.  Here is a terrific summary of the event.  Surprising to me was that only 7% of CIO’s say ERP should deploy in the cloud.  What’s that mean?  According to Sarah Friar from SalesForce.com, the cloud market will hit $53.5 billion by 2015!  Someone described a leader as the ability to make others believe they can do anything, and to that end, check out this video regarding the potential power of “social marketing.”

*The class photo was taken on the Titanic staircase replica in the new Titanic Museum where the event took place.

Later in the morning, we were treated with a presentation by Willie McCarter.  Willie discussed his role with the International Fund for Ireland and we received a great perspective on macro and microeconomics.

Willie was followed by Sir George Quigley.  We heard about his education, career, role with Bombardier, and how leadership in general can be quite a transferrable skill.  We learned a great deal about rebalancing public and private sector involvement in enterprise, and about the complexities of national corporate tax rates.

**The photo shows Mr. McCarter on the left, and Sir George on the right.

Lisa Bradley, from the International Business program at the University of Ulster in Derry was a big hit with the students as well.  She described a new MBA program in creative technologies, and really engaged the students in dialogue as she was looking to learn as much from them as they were from her!  She asked, “What have you learned in Ireland – i.e., what’s different?”  Some of the responses from the students:

  • Government support for entrepreneurship is greater here than in the US
  • Focus seems to be on niche markets – very motivated entrepreneurs.  Relationships are very strong.  CEO at project companies made them want to perform better.  It’s not just about the numbers here – relationships are greatly valued as is creating jobs.
  • The lack of female leadership in Ireland versus the US is stark, but access to all types of leaders is better in Ireland.
  • There is a big skill gap with strategic marketing and branding.

Colm McGoldrick also addressed the class and said that working for a large company where one has an employee ID is akin to a prison number!  He encouraged young business people to take the leap to become an entrepreneurs, and once successful to give back.

We traveled to Andor and received a tour of the manufacturing facility, and were treated with words of wisdom from ultra-successful CEO, Connor Walsh.  His experience provided a structured approach to problems – e.g., trying to understand the markets and why customers buy.  His AMAZING numbers:

  • 14 year CAGR revenue of 30%
  • 20% profit increase from 2004-2007
  • 557% profit increase from 2007-2011 ($1.4M to $10M)

The secret sauce?

Andor Values (core responsibility as CEO – what makes us unique)

  • Do the right thing for our customers (contract interpretations – i.e., judgment)
  • Continually innovate & improve (don’t rest on your laurels)
  • Are open, honest and respectful in our dealing with others (challenge each other)
  • Focus on generating solutions
  • Embrace change and open to new ideas
  • Honor our commitments
  • Take pride in everything we do
  • Are passionate and driven to win

Lastly, we heard from Bryan Keating present, “Risk taking – a perspective on leadership.”  Bryan quoted Howard Stevenson to get things going:  “The pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.”  He has a great “test” for the students on risk taking, and one person “passed!”  I don’t want to say more in case a future student reads this!  Bryan’s concluding remarks, “Life is not a rehearsal – and it’s never too late.”

A good day of learning and reflecting, indeed!

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