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BUSINESS BETTER BUSINESS SUMMER 2019
PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST THE HACKERS
HOW TO HARNESS THE POWER OF VIDEO CONTENT
Master BRENDA ROMERO ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE GAMES INDUSTRY
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FIRMS BLAZING A TRAIL IN INVENTION AND INNOVATION
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WELCOME SUMMER 2019
BUSINESS BETTER BUSINESS SUMMER 2019
Digital Witness PROTECT YOURSELF
AGAINST THE HACKERS
HOW TO HARNESS THE POWER OF VIDEO CONTENT
Master BRENDA ROMERO ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE GAMES INDUSTRY
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.
FIRMS BLAZING A TRAIL IN INVENTION AND INNOVATION
On the Cover: Pictured (L-R): DC Cahalane, CEO, Republic of Work; Gary Shortall, Managing Director, Egg; Fearghal Kelly, CEO, Digisoft; and Frank Brennan, General Manager, Republic of Work Photography: Jason Clarke
Editor: Colin White Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designer: Alan McArthur Design Assitant: James Moore Production Executive: Claire Byrne Account Director: Shane Kelly Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Better Business, Ashville Media, Unit 55, Park West Road, Park West Industrial Estate, Dublin 12, D12 X9F9. Tel: (01) 432 2200 All rights reserved. Every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this magazine is accurate. The publishers cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2019. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/ advertiser is responsible for honouring
In this edition, we focus on technology, read about Ireland’s growing gaming industry and meet entrepreneurs harnessing the power of video content online. Check out our feature on cybercrime and learn how to optimise website content and boost traffic to your social media channels. For many of you, the summer will mean hiring young people, and our HR pages tell all you need to know about hiring a person under 18 years of age. Those planning on travelling this summer will enjoy our feature on Ireland’s restaurant scene. Elsewhere in this edition you will find information on the SFA’s response to the Department of Finance’s SME tax incentives consultation, advice on extended parental leave due to come in force in the autumn and a roundup of the SFA Smart Business conference. Along the way you will come across a diverse range of businesses whose experiences may well give you a fresh take on your own venture. This magazine contains stories that inform, inspire and entertain. It showcases and celebrates the achievements of small companies, provides advice to help you in your business and keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends at home and abroad. Ireland is a nation of small businesses. Of over 245,000 businesses in the country, 99% have less than 50 employees (small) and 92% have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town and village in the country and together they provide employment to half of the private sector workforce. The SFA proudly represents a diverse membership of businesses with less than 50 employees; homegrown and spanning every sector of our economy. Our members can be found in every town and every city in Ireland. We want to make Ireland the most vibrant small business community in the world – an environment that supports entrepreneurship, values small business and rewards risk takers. Better Business is the magazine of the small business community. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas to email@example.com or on Twitter @SFA_Irl. Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
the prize. ISSN 2009-9118 SFA is a trading name of Ibec.
SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 1
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CONTENTS SUMMER 2019
05 14 16
Big News for Small Business News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland.
The Gamesmaster Brenda Romero opens up about gender equality and the evolution of the games industry.
Digital Witness ICT Skillnet’s David Fitzgerald discusses how a business can protect itself against the hackers.
20 26 30
Sector Spotlight Are ever-increasing demands on food entrepreneurs making survival difficult?
Cover Story Four Irish entrepreneurs blazing a trail in terms of invention and innovation.
The Vlog Squad A new wave of Irish entrepreneurs harnessing the power of video content across social media.
35 41 44
To Another Dimension We review the current state of the 3D printing industry in Ireland and its evolving technology.
An Agile Approach Some practical information on how small firms can hone their online strategies.
Trading Places Holly McGlynn’s unique brand of photography is making a mark on the London photography scene.
Arts and Culture Colin White speaks with outspoken author Kevin Barry about his latest novel, Night Boat to Tangier.
Travel There’s an awful lot to see and do in Derry during a business trip to one of Europe’s up-and-coming cities.
A Day in the Life Brendan Phillips talks us through a through a typical day as Managing Director at OVVO.
84 88 92
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Summer 2019 Contents
FROM TOP LEFT: Cork-based Republic of Work’s DC Cahalane and Frank Brennan describe how they have created a hassle-free flexible workplace experience, page 26 // Sinead Carroll has been immersed in digital marketing and has seen first-hand the power that the modern influencer can carry, page 30 // Restaurateur Jo Roarty explains how an ultra-friendly front of house team, combined with rustic food is Quay West’s unique selling point, page 20 // Alan Duncan describes why firms need to create content that resonates with audiences around the world, page 41
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CREATING A LOW-CARBON ECONOMY
Pictured (L-R): Michael Scully, founder and Director; Simon Convey, Tánaiste; and Helen Scully, founder and Director
Ibec recently launched a report responding to the global need for the transition to a competitive low-carbon economy as part of their ‘Better Lives, Better Business’ campaign. ‘Building a competitive low carbon economy – An Irish business roadmap to 2050’ outlines a vision for 2050 that would see Ireland have a smart, low-carbon economy known for its sustainable enterprise base, industrial competitiveness, energy resilience, skilled workforce and high quality of life. The report states that the decarbonisation involved in moving the current economy to a competitive low-carbon one should happen in phases to ensure a smooth and fair transition. With the Government’s climate action plan and greater public support for greener policies following the Local and European elections, the SFA will keep a watching brief on developments in this area over the coming months.
BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
More reasons to visit west Cork this summer
Clonakilty Distillery has opened a €10m, state-of-the-art distillery in Clonakilty, west Cork, creating 35 new jobs. As well as the Visitor Experience, Gin School and The Whale’s Tail Bistro, Clonakilty Distillery also has a warehouse on the Wild Atlantic Way out on the Galley Head Peninsula. The new distillery is expected to attract 35,000 visitors annually. Officially opened by Tánaiste, Simon Coveney TD, the distillery has been dubbed as a huge boost to the local economy. While visiting this newly opened distillery, be sure to try a glass of their double gold medal Clonakilty Single Batch whiskey. Clonakilty Distillery was awarded this medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, an accolade considered one of the most prestigious awards in the whiskey world.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY THIS SUMMER WITH GEOFINDIT APP
SFA MEMBERS IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS SOME NEWS TO SHARE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE FEATURED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF BETTER BUSINESS, CONTACT ELIZABETH BOWEN ON (01) 605 1626 OR ELIZABETH. BOWEN@SFA.IE
GeoDirectory, Ireland’s only complete property database, has significantly upgraded its award-winning GeoFindIT app. The latest version of the app includes real-time information on Dublin Bus, Dublin Bikes, Luas and Irish Rail transport platforms. Commuters will now be able to check the latest departure times, while Dublin Bikes users can use the app to check the capacity at all stations in the city. The updated version of the app, which went live on 3 May 2019, utilises GeoDirectory’s unrivalled property database, providing users with details on thousands of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars across the country, as well as the prices of all properties sold in Ireland. The app also features augmented reality, giving users realtime overlays of house prices. GeoFindIT App is available for free and can be used on mobile and tablet devices. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 5
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AALTO BIO REAGENTS DEVELOPS DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS FOR EARLIER IDENTIFICATION OF LYME DISEASE AND TBE
Aalto Bio is helping the diagnostics world to build better diagnostic assays for Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), as the numbers of positive cases have trebled in the past 12 to 13 years. According to research, there has been a three-fold increase in disease cases from infected mosquitos, ticks and fleas in the US from 2004 to 2016. Consequently, there is an increasing need for tests that can detect the full spectrum of tick-borne agents as ticks are capable of harbouring a number of pathogens simultaneously. Lyme disease is a multisystem disease caused by infections with the bacterium, borrelia. Transmission to humans is typically through the bite of an infected tick.
“Enquiries on family leave, maternity, paternity and parental leave are one of the top five-member queries to the SFA HR service. Unlike large companies, small firms do not have human resource departments to deal with the complex administration of growing family leave, so they find it difficult to administer, replace staff and meet the costs of when someone goes on leave.” Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director on the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019
“SFA Skillnet will work with small business owners to develop bespoke solutions to meet existing and emerging skills needs across the sector. The SFA is proud to deliver training that will supply the future skills essential to boost competitiveness and ensure sustainable growth within smaller firms.” Geraldine Lavin, SFA Skillnet Manager (for more information on Skillnet see page 10)
“To address the digital skills deficit in small businesses, this conference will explore the future of work and the future of technology to learn and expand our understanding of how digitalisation can meet customer demand and add resilience to Ireland’s small businesses.” Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, speaking at the SFA Smart Business conference
SFA MEMBERS APPOINTED TO IRISH BANKING CULTURE BOARD
Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair and Managing Director of Shellcove and Philip O’Leary of FitzGerald Legal & Advisory have been appointed to the Irish Banking Culture Board. Launched in April, the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) is an independent industry initiative established and funded by the five retail banks in Ireland with the aim of rebuilding trust in the sector through demonstrating a change in behaviour and overall culture. The IBCB’s goal is to act as a transformative influence on culture within the banking sector. The IBCB will demand that participating banks improve culture, customer outcomes and competence. Rooted in the knowledge that a changed culture will change outcomes, the IBCB will promote ethical behaviour and advocate for humility, decency and respect in the banking sector.
ICONIC OFFICES ANNOUNCES ITS LATEST FLEXIBLE WORKSPACE LOCATIONS Iconic offices have unveiled two new flexible workspace locations in Dublin city. The Masonry at 151 Thomas Street is the first of their buildings set to open this summer. Based in a significant heritage building which was repurposed into 70,000 sq ft of design-led workspace accommodating 900 workstations with an in-house café, restaurant and bar and two internal heated courtyards which will double up as an event space. This location will be completely unique to the colourful Dublin 8 district. The Lennox Building is due to open in July 2019 at the corner of South Richmond and Lennox Street in Dublin 2. Situated within close proximity to highly established office districts such as Hatch Street and Harcourt Street, Iconic have invested €3.5m into The Lennox Building, boasting a premium office design akin to a five-star boutique hotel. These new flexible workspace locations increase Iconic’s portfolio to a notable sixteen city locations.
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Sven Spollen-Behrens (SFA Director), Sue O’Neill (SFA Chair) and Helen Quinn (SFA Executive) at the launch of the Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign
SMALL BUSINESSES ENCOURAGED TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE WELLBEING In partnership with DeCare Dental, the SFA have launched a Wellness in the Workplace platform to encourage small businesses to improve employee wellbeing. This partnership is part of the SFA Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign which helps small businesses to find and keep the right people. The campaign is sponsored by Vodafone, DeCare Dental and Abodoo. In a recent SFA member survey, it was found that one-third of the respondents offer some form of wellness in the workplace. However, two-thirds do not currently offer any form of wellness in the workplace. To bridge this gap, the Wellness in the Workplace platform provides videos and resources to help small businesses create a healthy work environment. Workplace wellness initiatives have proven to reduce absenteeism, enhance employee engagement and increase productivity. As wellness in the workplace is too big of an issue to ignore, Better Business encourages readers to visit the newly launched Wellness in the Workplace platform at www.sfa.ie/growscalesucceed.
Target Integration’s Rohit Thakral (CEO), Alka Kapoor (HR Director), Peter Wood (Director Consultant) and Michael Kealy (Finance Director)
NEW HIRE AT TARGET INTEGRATION
Target Integration has welcomed Michael Kealy to the team. Michael has joined the company as a non-executive director with special responsibility for finance. With over 20 years’ experience in the financial sector, his expertise will help Target Integration manage existing finances and support growth over the coming months. Target Integration are independent providers of CRM and ERP software, established in 2008 and working in Ireland, UK and India. Target Integration’s mission is that, ‘Every business should be able to leverage the full power of their business insights.’
ARE YOU READY FOR PSD2?
On 14 September 2019, new requirements for authenticating online payments will be introduced in Europe as part of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). PSD2 mandates that all electronic transactions in the European Economic Area will require strong customer authentication (SCA). The SFA urges all members to contact their payment service providers immediately if they have not already done so, to ensure that all the necessary technical changes will be in place by 14 September 2019. The consequences of having a significant number of transactions cancelled on 14 September could lead to significant disruption for small businesses and consumers, resulting in reduced consumer choice and less competition.
ONLINE RETAIL SCHEME
The Online Retail Scheme was launched by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) in 2018 to support eligible retailers to develop a more competitive online offer. The purpose of this fund is to enable retailers to increase their customer base and build a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace, both online and offline. At least 50% of the total number of grants awarded will be reserved for retailers with headquarters based outside of county Dublin. Applications for funding are open until 31 July 2019 at 3pm. Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 50% of the project eligible costs with a maximum grant of €25,000. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 7
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Andrew Schreyer, Director of Purchasing at NCH Corporation and Oliver McCarthy, General Manager receiving Supplier of the Year from NCH
TOP TWEETS In just 150 days, it will be the day AFTER #Brexit! Don’t wait – take action now by talking to your @Loc_Enterprise Office about supports for your #smallbiz. Here’s a handy guide - https:// www.localenterprise. ie/DiscoverBusiness-Supports/ Brexit-Information/ LEO-BrexitSupports-Guide. pdf … #BrexitReady #MakingItHappen
TEKELEK IS AWARDED SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR FROM NCH CORPORATION Tekelek, Europe’s foremost manufacturer of products that measure and report the level of liquids in domestic and commercial tanks, was recently awarded Supplier of the Year from NCH Corporation. NCH Corporation is a major US international marketer of maintenance products with a focus on industrial and commercial businesses employing 7,500 employees across six continents. Through the use of Tekelek’s reliable and cost-effective Tank Monitoring Level Measurement Sensor, NCH Corporation has optimised asset management and operations efficiency across the organisation. From its headquarters in Shannon, Tekelek has been actively developing and manufacturing innovative Internet of Things (IoT) smart-energy products for more than 20 years. With over 3 million devices in the field, they are the number one supplier of ultrasonic tank monitoring devices in Europe. They are at the forefront of IoT trends and pride themselves on their ability to offer innovative level measurement products to meet changing customer needs.
DON’T DELAY IN PLANNING FOR BREXIT Brexit is currently a pending situation, so it is important for your business to be as prepared as possible for whatever the outcome may be. If you are trading in goods to or from the UK, an Economic Operators Registration Identification (EORI) is required to be entered on a customs declaration. In the post-Brexit environment, all goods movements involving the UK will require a customs declaration. To register for an EORI number go to the Revenue Online Service. The application process is quick and extremely reliable. The Government has collaborated with Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and AIB to create €300m in loans for Irish SMEs and farmers. The scheme is to support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment and will be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). Loan attributes: between €25,000 to €1.5m, interest rates below 4%, length of loans from one to three years and €500,000 maximum on unsecured loans. To apply complete the Eligibility Application form with SBCI to learn if your business is currently eligible. After ensuring eligibility bring the SBCI confirmation to AIB, Bank of Ireland, or Ulster Bank to apply for a loan.
Introducing @SFASkillnet, one of the new Skillnet Ireland Learning Networks. The Small Firms Association Skillnet is a multisector learning network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Promoted by the Small Firms Association. Find out more: http:// bit.ly/sfa-skillnet Skillnet Ireland
As small businesses scale, meeting expectations of their growing team becomes a top priority. We’re delighted to partner with the SFA through their affinity scheme and offer Frankli at a reduced rate to help small businesses achieve goals. Full details: https://buff. ly/2QuflIX
The @SFA_Irl offer a wide range of training courses to small companies. There are some great 1 & 2 day workshops delivered by experts to develop and upskill
8 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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TRAINING MATTERS IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVE BYRNE, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF DUALTRON, REBECCA HARRISON, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF FISHERS OF NEWTOWNMOUNTKENNEDY, ROHIT THAKRAL, CEO OF TARGET INTEGRATION AND JIMMY SHEEHAN, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR OF CONTRACTING PLUS. Q. Why did you feel it was important to get involved with the SFA Skillnet? DB: I’ve always been a big fan
of training and I think it’s vital for small firms. I’d have more regard for those who invest in training and would have taken jobs in the past with those who had a reputation for investing in training their team.
means I can also help other businesses grow through training. Q. What has changed in your business as a result of training? JS: We provide an online training
shorter courses in a variety of subject areas suits me and my team and as it’s so cost-effective, my training budget goes further.
platform and we also bring in expertise in-house and send team members to external courses. This varied approach ensures we are learning at multiple levels. There has been a marked increase in performance and customer experience in the last 12 months as we have focused even more on the benefits of training.
RT: Training is an important
RT: It makes a big change to
aspect of every business. When you have a team of people, you like to see them grow and you can do that through training. Being part of the SFA Skillnet
us. We have a smarter, growing workforce as a result of our focus on training. Every day we see the benefits of training in our team and our business.
RH: The Skillnet model of
Q. How do you decide what your training needs are for your business? JS: In some part this is
driven by business needs (performance) but for the most part it is driven by the individual (personal development). Training is a mental release from the normal day to day. To borrow from Stephen Covey, if we don’t take time to sharpen the saw, as time passes, we will become slower and less efficient.
DB: We discuss it with our managers who hear about training needs from their team. It’s a teasing out exercise – some employees identify courses and make a case, while with others we encourage them to consider training options. We include it as part of our performance management process – we ask about future training needs and also the outcome and actions from training already completed. Q. You’ve had some of your team go on SFA Skillnet courses; what feedback have they given you? RH: They got a lot out of it. They
said it was great to see other participants had the same issues to deal with (if not worse!). It’s an advantage that we can put the content into practice in the business straight away.
RH: I do it through discussion
RT: They enjoyed the training and found it a good opportunity to meet other people and hear from industry peers.
with our team and hearing what they need and by looking at the business as a whole and what it needs. In particular, if people are promoted, they need support in their new role and training really helps with that.
DB: It was really well-received. They found the trainers very engaging and they liked that the course content wasn’t prescriptive and could be adapted to their needs. JS: The feedback was hugely positive. The team members who attended the course came back and digested the information they learned and delivered a condensed version to the rest of the team. We’re now in the process of incorporating the learnings into how we operate daily.
Paul Healy, Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland and members of the SFA Skillnet Steering Group
For further information on the SFA Skillnet, visit www.sfaskillnet.ie or contact Geraldine Lavin on 087 787 1642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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WINNERS ANNOUNCED Congratulations to all the winners at the Energia Family Business Awards
See the full list of winners at www.familybusinessawards.ie
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THE CLOCK IS TICKING
TIME TO ACT We would encourage businesses to review how Brexit may impact their working capital. To do that consider the following: n GET ADVICE There are a range of supports available from your Local Enterprise Office, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and InterTradeIreland that you should consider.
THE CONSTANT UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDING THE UK’S DIVORCE FROM THE EU MEANS THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR A POTENTIAL HARD BREXIT. IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR BREXIT?
ith the goalposts for Britain’s exit from the European Union moving yet again, Deadline Day, or D-Day if you will, is now Halloween: 31 October. Theresa May stepped down as Prime Minister in June. At the time of writing, the search for her predecessor is ongoing and the chances of a no-deal Brexit has likely increased in the wake of her resignation. According to AIB’s latest Brexit Sentiment Index, 64% of businesses have already made plans to try mitigating the effects of Brexit on their businesses, up significantly on Q4 2018, which is great to see. Also, of the SMEs who had planned to expand or invest in their business, 53% in ROI and 63% in NI have reviewed, postponed or cancelled these plans. All businesses, irrespective of sector, scale and geographic location, should be concerned about the impact of Brexit, whether they are directly or indirectly affected. Businesses that trade directly with the UK, either importing or exporting to/ or via the UK, and firms that are reliant on UK visitors or contracts within the UK, have a clear direct exposure to the UK and to Brexit. Many of these businesses have been accustomed to managing the currency
risk associated with this trade over the years, however, Brexit now has the potential to pose significantly more challenges. Almost all businesses are impacted indirectly by Brexit. Ireland has a significant supply chain reliance on the UK, almost all Irish businesses buy goods and services from Irish suppliers that originate in the UK or via the UK, so Brexit touches all businesses and ultimately all Irish consumers. In addition, a hard Brexit would have a negative impact on the Irish economy overall. Businesses that rely on a strong domestic economy and strong consumer spending would be affected by any impact on the economy. For example, in a hard Brexit, customs duties would have an immediate impact on business cash-flow, however, even in a soft Brexit with the UK as a third country, additional documentation requirements and potential time delays may also impact cash-flow. There is still time for you and your business to get ready, but you should act now. If you would like to find out more about how Brexit may impact your business, contact your local AIB branch to speak with your local Brexit Advisor. Visit www.aib.ie/brexit to take your company through the Brexit Ready Check and to find out more information on Brexit solutions.
n UNDERSTAND YOUR EXPOSURE TO BREXIT Take AIB’s online Brexit Ready Check, a quick, useful and free tool, which has been developed to help support SMEs. n TALK TO YOUR BANK While you may not require additional finance yet, it is good to start the conversation. AIB has a team of 32 Brexit Advisors nationally who are in place to support you and your business. n DIRECT TRADE Importing to or from the UK has Brexit exposure. n INDIRECT TRADE Buyers or suppliers are importing to/from the UK – you may be indirectly affected. n FOREIGN EXCHANGE The sterling/euro volatility remains a key concern for Irish businesses. n SUPPLY CHAIN Examine your supply chain, as you may be directly or indirectly trading with the UK, which gives your business a Brexit exposure. n PEOPLE Are your employees travelling cross-border?
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We’re financing your future Need help to finance your business? Talk to us about our small business loans. Or visit your Local Enterprise Office.
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An Roinn Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
23/05/2018 13:05 14:14 04/07/2019 12:08
Interview Brenda Romero
Games Master THE
BRENDA ROMERO OPENS UP ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY, HER LOVE OF GALWAY AND THE EVOLUTION OF THE GAMES INDUSTRY AS SHE SPEAKS WITH BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT IRELAND’S CONTINUING GLOBAL INFLUENCE.
worldwide games industry is a modern phenomenon. The sector has become one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world, with recent reports suggesting revenues could to hit $180bn by 2021. Brenda Romero has been a major player in the area of game design for decades. Best-known for her work on releases such as Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes, Playboy: The Mansion, Def Jam: Icon and Wizardry, the creative director has worked with a variety of digital game companies throughout her distinguished career – Atari, SirTech Software, Electronic Arts – and now heads up Romero Games alongside her partner John Romero in Galway. In terms of the shifting gaming landscape, the entrepreneur has seen the transformation of the industry firsthand since she first entered it in 1981. “It’s gone from trading disks friend-to-friend, to baggies hanging in stores, to boxed games in stores and then to full digital distribution,” she explains. “Above all, I believe that games have finally emerged, not just as a commercial industry, but as a cultural art form. Games are used, not just to entertain, but for education, news, health, as well as in many other fields.” Emerging technologies have allowed millions of people around the world to enjoy gaming as a shared activity. “There has been a tremendous change in the way that games have been marked and sold in the last five to ten years,” Romero describes the evolution of customer habits and expectations. “Digital distribution is now standard, and
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Brenda Romero Interview
consumers are far more educated about what they want in games as a result. It’s been a benefit for developers too, as we can communicate directly with a large number of gamers to discover what features they like and don’t like. We’ve also seen a rise in the influencer method of marketing and this has hugely affected the games space.” The industry in Ireland is in great shape. In late 2018, an Irish games company developed the country’s first AAA game [games industry equivalent of big budget release] and, in general, Irish companies and individuals have been incredibly influential in the gaming industry. However, Romero believes many haven’t received the recognition they deserve. She says: “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which transformed the most popular genre across the world, was created by Brendan Green, originally from Kildare. Demonware and Havok are gold standards and backbones of many AAA games, while current head of AR/VR at Oculus, Colum Slevin, has long been a part of our industry. And there are countless indie success stories like Gambrinous with Guild of Dungeoneering doing great things.”
Groovy Galway Pitching Ireland as a games hub has been problematic in some respects, with the games industry only receiving a minuscule fraction of the millions paid out to Ireland’s film industry. Romero would like to see more done in terms of tax benefits for Irish game developers, as well as more grants and funding provided in line with other EU nations. “The State is great about supporting art and technology companies,” she states, “but games tend to fall in a grey area between art and tech. If you look what our neighbours do in terms of funding supports, particularly in France, you can see how much more we could achieve.” Operating a cutting-edge gaming firm in the west of Ireland may raise some eyebrows, but those in the know will be aware that Galway is home to a plethora of major tech companies – Electronic Arts, Oracle, Cisco, HP and SAP – as well as a healthy sprinkling of independent game companies. For Romero, the vibrancy and warmth of the city is what attracts many firms here. “Galway has everything you need to have an amazing tech business: access to great internet speeds, creative people, programmers, a quality of life that’s second-to-none and great educational institutions from which to attract local talent,” she declares.
“GALWAY HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO HAVE AN AMAZING TECH BUSINESS: ACCESS TO GREAT INTERNET SPEEDS, CREATIVE PEOPLE, PROGRAMMERS, A Brenda Romero QUALITY OF LIFE THAT’S SECONDTO-NONE AND GREAT EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FROM WHICH TO ATTRACT LOCAL TALENT.” “There’s always a buzz about Galway, and that’s the kind of environment you need to make great games. Our office is right in city centre and I can’t imagine a better place to live, work and raise a family.” In a career littered with numerous success stories, Romero considers the team she and John have built in Galway as her biggest professional achievement. “You can have a great idea, but without a great team you’re not going to get very far,” she enthuses. “This team is so much more than purely talented, though. We genuinely respect and like one another and enjoy making games together. I can’t tell you how great that feels, but anyone who’s experienced a dysfunctional crew and an amazing crew can tell you!”
Appropriate certification Romero works within an industry that has been criticised for its ethics around the use of overly sexualised characters and the levels of ultraviolence within games. Having researched this area extensively, Romero stresses the importance of certification. “Games are similar to movies or books in that they cover a wide variety of subject matter,” the BAFTA awardwinning game developer informs. “I believe adult content in video games, specifically sex and violence, should be handled similarly to the way it is handled in movies, namely through ratings and age restrictions on the content that is not age-appropriate.” Equally important is that equality, inclusion and diversity are front-and-centre in any discussion about the future of the industry. But what does the future of the gaming industry in Ireland look like? To some extent it will depend on how successfully the Irish education system rolls out computer-based resources at both primary and secondary level to entice a new generation into the sector. A common misconception is that gamers are predominantly male, when in fact this is not the case, and Romero has been openly critical regarding levels of sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry. “My hope is that we will see more women entering tech fields in general,” says the longest continuously serving woman in the video game industry, “and this begins with introducing all kids, both boys and girls, to computers and to coding or computercreated art at an early age.” These advances could signify an exciting new chapter for gaming. For the industry to reach this level, individuals like Brenda Romero will be pivotal in pushing the agenda of inclusion forward. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 15
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WITNESS AS INCIDENCES OF CYBERCRIME CONTINUE TO RISE IN IRELAND, ICT SKILLNET’S DAVID FITZGERALD DISCUSSES HOW A BUSINESS CAN PROTECT ITSELF AGAINST THE HACKERS. COLIN WHITE REPORTS.
Cybercriminals are using more advanced and groundbreaking tools to breach user privacy – and they’re getting away with it. This isn’t the plotline of the latest Hollywood blockbuster; it’s the reality of life at the forefront of running a business right now. Cybercrime can potentially affect all businesses. When hackers believe they can profit in some way, either directly or indirectly, from attacking a computer system, a business is potentially vulnerable. Remote attacks are growing in number, as well as becoming more sophisticated, and cybercriminals are developing their own form of digital transformation to evade the authorities. Having come to the sector from a management and financial background, David Fitzgerald now manages a variety of programmes at Technology Ireland ICT
Skillnet, including its Cybersecurity Skills Initiative programme. As a significant amount of cybercrime goes unreported, Fitzgerald is aware that an estimate on the number of data breaches is difficult to gauge accurately, but recent reports state that nearly half of all businesses have reported cybercrime within the last two years. “Many companies are reluctant to admit to having had a cyber attack, as they fear reputational damage to their brand and loss of customer confidence,” explains the Programme Manager. “This fear contributes significantly to the disruption caused by cyber attacks, along with the threat of financial loss.” The primary method being used by hackers to breach company data is phishing, a method whereby hackers appear to be someone that they are not.
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One step beyond Companies are slowly beginning to understand the importance of sharing information in the fight against cybersecurity threats. Collaboration is key to addressing cybercrime and if breaches of security are not reported to the relevant authorities, cybercrime will continue to go undetected and unpunished. “The Garda National Cybercrime Bureau in Ireland is continually allocating resources to tackle cybercrime, working in conjunction with overseas agencies such as Interpol and Europol to respond to the growing problem,” Fitzgerald informs. “Their efforts, along with The Irish Government’s National Cyber Security Centre, as well as training programmes by agencies such as Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet and the numerous companies providing security products, collectively seek to address the serious issue of cyber threats within the Irish business community.” Around the world, there have been calls for increased government action to help small firms meet the challenges arising from cybercrime. However, ultimately, every company is responsible for its own cybersecurity and protection. Fitzgerald states: “The Companies Act 2014 requires company directors to ‘exercise the care, skill and diligence which would be exercised in the same circumstances by a reasonable person having the knowledge and experience that may reasonably be expected of a person in the same position as the director’. Companies take steps to protect their property and goods with CCTV and alarm systems. Accordingly, companies should take the necessary steps to both train their employees in cyber skills and implement
“THE HUMAN FACTOR SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTES TO THE PROTECTION OF DATA AND, AGAIN, WHERE EMPLOYEES ARE NOT PROPERLY TRAINED TO UNDERSTAND AND RECOGNISE THE POTENTIAL RISKS.” processes and systems which prevent attack from cyber criminals.” There are many mistakes repeatedly made in terms of protecting data, primarily in the area of weak or non-existent passwords, coupled with the absence of two-factor authentication – commonly known as 2FA, a method which offers an important additional layer of protection. “The password situation coupled with the opening of suspicious emails which can contain previously mentioned malware are the two most-common mistakes small firms make in terms of protecting data from unscrupulous hackers,” explains Fitzgerald. “The human factor significantly contributes to the protection of data and, again, where employees are not properly trained to understand and recognise the potential risks from poor cyber hygiene, avoidable risks will exist, which can cause considerable expense, interruption and reputational damage to any small company.”
Emerging technology It is vital that small firms have the essential skills necessary to cope with internetrelated offences. Training is available through the numerous entities that exist, such as Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, and products are available through the many suppliers that distribute them. Advice is also available from the statutory bodies, so “there is enough support, if
companies seek it”, according to Fitzgerald. “ICT Skillnet’s courses assist and train employees to recognise potentially threatening false identities, which, in turn, prevents them from sharing or disclosing information to hackers,” he says. “Our cybersecurity training programmes cover all areas, from awareness up to MSc level and a number of courses are also available to assist businesses in directly assessing both their risk to attack and which employees are most suitable for cybersecurity roles within their businesses. We also train employees to recognise potential malware and how to take the necessary steps to prevent it corrupting their computer systems.” Cybercrime has the continued potential to threaten and disrupt every business, nationally and internationally. “As emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation continue to develop, potential threats to substantial networks will be minimised, if not eliminated,” notes Fitzgerald. He concludes: “As standards and certifications are improved, the likelihood of an attack being successful to infrastructural computer systems diminishes from a technical perspective. However, as long as the human element is a contributory factor, the likelihood of threat continues to exist. This again comes back to the core need for education and skills within the cybersecurity sector.”
TACKLING CYBERCRIME 5 TOP TIPS IN
“Hackers are now quite skilled at copying company logos and website content in an effort to deceive their intended victims,” Fitzgerald states. “Another popular method is the installation of malicious software or malware which is more usually targeted at smaller companies. This allows hackers to gain access to your information and passwords, which again can potentially result in serious financial loss.”
1. Limit and manage those who have admin privileges 2. Ensure password security and 2FA is set up 3. Backup your data frequently 4. Install anti-virus software 5. Enhance company resilience by building a skills base
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VMGroup ď€Š Partner Profile
BEAT THE HACKERS BETTER BUSINESS ASKS VMGROUP FOUNDER DR VIVIENE MEE WHAT SMALL FIRMS CAN DO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THE THREAT OF A CYBER ATTACK. Q. How is cybercrime affecting small firms in 2019? A: Due to the lack of resources small firms are often unaware that they are being hacked or have been a victim of a breach. Currently, the biggest concern for Irish small firms is phishing and ransomware attacks. Office365 phishing attacks are currently the most common way in which small firms are being duped out of information and financial sums. In brief, an end user is duped into clicking on a link in an email where they are brought another site which appears to be their email login or their one drive login and are asked to enter their credentials. We have seen attackers stay in accounts for up to six months before making a move on targeting the firm for financial gain. Ransomware is malicious software which denies access to the end user to their computer system and data until they pay a ransom. End users fall victim of the attack by simply clicking on attachments within emails from unknown sources. Q. In what ways has the landscape changed? A: Often small firms do not have an IT (information technology) security function as part of their organisation, and even more so, they may not have an IT function. Small Irish firms outsource their IT function to a third party and assume IT security is part of that service. IT security is a function that should sit outside of IT and it should liaise holistically across the organisation. Organisations are shifting from the outsourced IT function to outsource
Dr Viviene Mee, founder, VMGroup
IT security or information security assurance, meaning they are ensuring they have the correct controls and procedures in place to ensure their security landscape is secure. Security testing involves, risk assessments of day-to-day activities of the business, risk assessments of the applications being used, risk assessments of the technology being used and risk assessments of the end users to ensure they are adequately trained. Q. How can VMGroup assist small firms? A: VMGroup can aid firms identify their security gaps in their estate and aid in minimising the risk of breach occurring. Firms use our team as their cyber incident response team and outsource their security functions to us. Smaller firms in particular use our expertise to fill the gaps of the resource issue, where they may not require a full-time security team or function. VMGroup
become part of the internal team, sit on board meetings, contribute to the risk meetings and alleviate the governance and controls burden from organisations. Q. What are the most common mistakes small firms make in terms of protecting themselves from a cyber attack? A: Small firms shouldnâ€™t underestimate the powers of the end user. The end user is the common victim of most attacks in small firms. Employers should invest in essential cyber security awareness training to all their employees to ensure they are aware of the risks they may face during their day-to-day activities. Small firms also do not utilise the tools they have available to them. They should ensure they keep all their systems to up to date with the latest patches which may be provided free by their software vendors and ensure antivirus and malware prevention is enabled on all endpoints.
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Sector Spotlight Restaurant Industry
IRELAND’S RESTAURANT SCENE HAS GONE THROUGH UNPRECEDENTED CHANGES OVER THE LAST DECADE, BUT ARE EVER-INCREASING DEMANDS ON FOOD ENTREPRENEURS MAKING SURVIVAL DIFFICULT? COLIN WHITE SPEAKS WITH THREE RESTAURATEURS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. 20 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Restaurant Industry Sector Spotlight
an age of the celebrity chef, with slick culinary evening television shows becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we’ve become a nation of foodies with an insatiable appetite for new flavours. We can also boast some of the world’s best produce and today the Irish restaurant sector encompasses a plethora of owner-operated small firms playing a pivotal role in supporting, not just local food producers, but our overall economy. The industry appears to be in rude health. However, behind the glamour, the realities are harsh for many restaurant owners nationwide. With so many establishments offering a variety of culinary options, food entrepreneurs need to seriously think about how to set themselves apart from the competition. The landscape has changed drastically over recent decades. Irish consumers have become very sophisticated and expect both great food and a flawless service. And our wanderlust has resulted in many exotic cuisines and flavourings now being the norm for Irish diners.
With its flagship premises Gotham Café on South Anne Street, as well as Gotham South in Stillorgan and the Independent Pizza Company in Drumcondra, Gotham Restaurant Group has been going from strength to strength under the guidance of co-owner David Barry since 1984. “I can’t begin to tell you how much has changed in that time,” says Barry. “Casual dining was very much a rarity and consumer tastes were entirely different. Consumer demand is still on the rise, but it’s possible that we have reached ‘peak restaurant’ in Dublin city at this point. Our focus has always been to offer casual dining in a relaxed atmosphere, where there is an emphasis on quality, freshness and value.”
“CONSUMER DEMAND IS STILL ON THE RISE, BUT IT’S POSSIBLE THAT WE HAVE REACHED ‘PEAK RESTAURANT’ IN DUBLIN CITY AT THIS POINT. OUR FOCUS HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO OFFER CASUAL DINING IN A RELAXED ATMOSPHERE, WHERE THERE IS AN EMPHASIS ON QUALITY, FRESHNESS AND VALUE.”
David Barry, co-owner, Gotham Restaurant Group
Michelin-starred Loam is one of the jewels in the crown of Galway’s emerging food scene and its progressive and environmental approach has garnered much praise since it began trading in 2014. “We are the first restaurant in Ireland to gain three stars in the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good Awards,” explains head chef and owner Enda McEvoy. “We have directly built up relationships with farmers and producers and 90% of our produce comes from within 40km of the restaurant.” McEvoy sees digital technology becoming more prominent in the hospitality industry as a game-changer. “Social media has become a huge part of the business,” he says. “There is a lot of pressure to be active on social media as a business owner. Everything is instant. People have higher expectations as they have read a lot more about a place before they visit and feel invested in it before SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 21
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Sector Spotlight Restaurant Industry
they even set foot through the door. You have guests sometimes reviewing before they have even left the premises. You have to take the bad with the good, as it is beyond your control.” Business partners since 2001, Jo Roarty and Debbie O’Reilly are the brains behind Donegal town’s Quay West Restaurant. Spread over two levels and offering diners superb views out over the mouth of Donegal Bay, the restaurant specialises in flavoursome food at affordable prices. “Our unique selling point is our ultra-friendly front of house team, combined with rustic food and a prime location,” states chef-owner Jo Roarty. “We prioritise public interaction, while staff empowerment would be considered a success factor here in Quay West.” At the beginning of this year an increase in VAT kicked in – up to 13.5% from the 9% previously enjoyed for seven years. Hospitality is an extremely labour intensive business and the increase is expected to hit some restaurant owners hard, with closures forecast as a result. “We weren’t surprised when the Government moved to increase it from the lower 9% rate,” informs Barry. “The hotel industry, with its dynamic pricing model leading to extraordinarily high Dublin
“PEOPLE HAVE HIGHER EXPECTATIONS AS THEY HAVE READ A LOT MORE ABOUT A PLACE BEFORE THEY VISIT AND FEEL INVESTED IN IT BEFORE THEY EVEN SET FOOT THROUGH THE DOOR. ”
Did You Know? Loam picked up ‘Best Restaurant’ at the National Hospitality Awards in May.
Enda McEvoy, head chef and owner, Loam
room rates, made increasing the VAT a lowhanging fruit for the Government.” “With any VAT increase we unfortunately have to pass this cost to customers; it is just something we could not afford to absorb,” explains McEvoy. “The overheads in running a fine dining establishment are huge and when you put the prices up, it obviously makes you less competitive.” Quay West’s Jo Roarty agrees. “It would have been better had it been incremental,” she says, “which would have allowed us to adjust budgets and possibly absorb the increase and stay that bit more competitive. We [Roarty and co-owner Debbie O’Reilly] have been entrepreneurs since 2001, and just barely survived the last rollercoaster ride of boom and bust and we certainly don’t want to see another one.” Location is also a huge factor in the restaurant business, especially in the casual dining segment. Dublin now ranks in the top five most-expensive places to rent in Europe and, across the whole country, sky-high rents and commercial rates have emerged as problematic hurdles. “Our business thrives despite our location, not because of it,” informs Enda McEvoy. “When we opened in Galway there was nothing in the city centre we could afford, and we knew paying the kinds of rents they were looking for would cripple us. Rates are a huge issue and it gets harder and harder each year with other costs rising exponentially.” He adds: “The county needs people opening businesses and taking that risk to generate employment, but it is getting increasingly difficult to do business here, so therefore there’s less motivation for people to start a business.” “The real issue is what the money is spent upon,” adds Barry. “By way of example, South Anne Street is in very poor condition and is long overdue a total make-over. We would also have a real issue with the high level of fees charged for outside tables and the restrictions that are placed upon us in terms of making the outside area more comfortable for customers. The Irish consumer just adores eating outdoors by the way, especially if the sun grants us an audience!”
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Restaurant Industry Sector Spotlight
“WE HAVE BEEN ENTREPRENEURS SINCE 2001, AND JUST BARELY SURVIVED THE LAST ROLLERCOASTER RIDE OF BOOM AND BUST AND WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT TO SEE ANOTHER ONE.” Jo Roarty, chef-owner, Quay West Restaurant
Roarty also highlights commercial rates as an obstacle to growth. “Commercial rates should go to the upkeep of the local community,” she explains. “But these are applied within the first year during the critical phase where restaurant failure is at its peak. Surely these could be subsidised in some way, so as to lessen the impact it has during the critical phase.”
A need for education With close to full employment, extortionately high living costs and fewer foreign staff to choose from, staff shortages within the restaurant sector have become a serious issue. The supply crisis means one thing: uncertainty for the industry. “Staff shortages has been the most pressing issue since early 2018,” Barry declares. “We are finding this a real constraint and have lost several of our team due to difficulties with apartment leases ending and the subsequent difficulty with finding affordable alternative accommodation.” “It is extremely hard to get good people, especially in the kitchen,” adds McEvoy. “We have a very good team, but it is natural that people want to move on and it is getting harder to replace people. I think a lot of people in Ireland see hospitality as a thing you do to put yourself through college, or a job to pass your early twenties, but this has to change. In other countries it is seen as a viable career and this is reflected in the level of service.” Jo Roarty believes a major recruitment initiative is required to address the skills shortage in the area. “Our local secondary school ran a project bringing together
students with local chefs and restaurants,” she explains. “Out of that project, over 70 students were introduced to industrial kitchens, worked alongside award-winning chefs and many gained employment out of it. Now, if this could be rolled out on a national level, would this not be a ‘win-win’ for everyone? The students learn about food, nutrition and the importance of food provenance and then maybe it might inspire a career into the culinary world.” It has been reported that wages within the restaurant industry are the lowest of any employment sector in Ireland. Furthermore, there have been damaging recent reports that some restaurants are using tips to subsidise part of employees’ wages. “Like any industry, there are some operators who need to be named and shamed for highly questionable practices,” comments Barry. “As owners, we don’t even see what level of tips they end up with and their hourly wage rates are entirely separate. “We do think though that sometimes consumers can see things in a somewhat simplistic manner. The idea that all tips should go to the wait person who serves the table harks back to a time when wait staff were paid only a notional wage, as opposed to today’s starting point of a minimum hourly rate. There is a whole team involved in making our dining experience go smoothly and each is a vital cog in the wheel. Hospitality is a dynamic and exciting business and, unlike when we started out in the ‘80s, there are now plenty of long-term prospects for anyone who chooses hospitality as a career.” McEvoy adds: “Maybe I am naive, but I don’t think the practice of tips being used to subsidise wages is widespread. In our own experience, we have always left the tips to be managed by the staff, but, of course, negative media reports are damaging and I assume it makes people respect the industry less.”
Different climate As climate change continues to be a political hot potato, restaurant owners have much to consider as the industry comes under increased scrutiny in regard to environmental responsibility. “We strongly feel that each one of us who walks upon the earth needs to wake up and reconsider the impact that we have on this wonderful planet,” states David Barry. “Most critically, we need our politicians to show some courage and leadership and enact policies that will hasten change. Such policies might be initially unpopular, but so be it. Let’s save the planet, not politicians’ jobs. Unfortunately, the worldwide rise of populist politicians makes this a less likely outcome.” “People are slowly changing,” adds McEvoy. “Our menu at the restaurant is 70% plant-based and we see it as vitally important to use every part of the plant and animal. Cutting down on the amount of food we waste as a nation will also have a huge impact also, so the responsibility is on everyone to make the right choices.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 23
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Advice Wise Guys
IN BUSINESS AND THRIVING - SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS.
Fashion Mary Greene
Managing Director, Divine Boutique The best piece of advice I was ever given was never to give up, be committed and passionate and to have faith. It is the fundamental reason I am still in business today. Having opened a luxury ladies boutique in 2005 and being faced with the catastrophic recession in 2008, there were times when I faced absolute uncertainty. But hanging on to faith and positivity, I worked hard to adapt to a very different economy and market, which was the key to my success. You need to be resilient, committed to what you love and have a passion for what you do.
UX Hubert Szyperski CEO, Madbit
If you developing a new product or service, start with the user experience design and save yourself a headache down the line. Empathise with your customers. It will help you to understand their needs and frustrations. In the end, your business should improve their lives. Brainstorm ideas, as there’s usually more than one solution to the problem and finding the best one is always a good start. And don’t forget to design and prototype, as you need to verify that your idea is going to work before you start costly production. This one is a huge money saver. Finally, test with real users. Getting feedback from your customers assures that your business stays lean, agile and responsive to their needs.
Health Conor Flynn
Managing Director, FCE Scan Be prepared to change with your customers’ needs and be ready to act when new opportunities arise. We have been in business for a little over one year and we have expanded to three centres with a fourth to open shortly. We have always made the customers’ needs our main objective and we seek out our customers’ feedback so that we can adapt regularly for their benefit. Stick to the philosophy that your customers’ needs are of most importance, and be flexible to these needs.
There are many definitions, but there’s one thing that all great business leaders agree on, and that’s how success can only come by persevering despite failure.
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Wise Guys Advice
“Don’t worry about funding if you don’t need it. Today it’s cheaper to start a business than ever.”
Software Rohit Thakral
CEO, Target Integration The best definition of a business I ever heard was ‘a profitable enterprise’. There is a difference in a hobby and a business and the sooner you learn this, the better. Never get attached to your business so much that it doesn’t allow you to grow. When new people join, they come up with their own energy and ideas. Evaluate and embrace them, rather than reject them.
If you are a business leader
Food Cara Lloyd
Owner, The Corner Bakery Have the confidence in your product or service to charge a fair price. If you’re crafting hand-made products, do not take your pricing cues from the local supermarket. If customers appreciate little bespoke touches, charge for the customisation. If your service differentiates you, be sure to cost it into your selling price. Products that cost too little will be seen as low quality. So no ‘mates rates’ – put a value on your own time.
Noah Everett, founder of Twitpic
Employment Jane Downes
Founder, Part-Time.ie Listen to what your customer wants and make sure you can offer that. Our customers all have a need to hire someone on a part-time or contract basis but have different amounts of time to invest in the process of hiring and different budgets available. The original business was all about the jobs platform itself but now includes recruitment and contracting services. You have to react to market demands and be ready to take opportunities where they arise
and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with the small business community please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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BETTER BUSINESS CATCHES UP WITH IRISH ENTREPRENEURS BLAZING A TRAIL IN TERMS OF INVENTION AND INNOVATION AND DISCOVERS HOW VIRGIN MEDIA BUSINESS CAN ASSIST FIRMS IN REALISING THEIR FULL POTENTIAL.
REPUBLIC OF WORK From single person start-ups to large multinational corporations, Cork-based Republic of Work has created a hassle-free flexible workplace experience for its many clients since opening in 2017. Invention has been key for Republic of Work since its inception. “You bring your business here because you want to be part of a network,” says CEO DC Cahalane. “We refer to ourselves as an innovation campus. What you find across industries is that innovation is everywhere and we’re all constantly looking for better and smarter ways of doing things. Innovation can be as complex as a strategy day inside our innovation suite, or as simple as an introduction to another member,” notes General Manager Frank Brennan. “All of a sudden there’s a collaboration that may not have happened without that shared cup of coffee.” Creating a space that inspires and builds a community was a complicated task, according to Brennan. “We had to go back to the drawing board shortly after we first opened and look at how we were going to separate ourselves from new competitors,” he says. “And what does separate us from everybody else is that community aspect we achieve by connecting our members.” Virgin Media Business’s products have provided Republic of Work with the ability to transform B2B marketing for its clients. “Having reliable internet these days is as important as having running water,” states Cahalane. “Having this absolutely rock solid Virgin fibre broadband was basically, after having a roof on the building, the next important thing for us… it’s a hardcore backbone that has never let us down.” www.republicofwork.com
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BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Brought to you by Virgin Media Business We Make It Work
“WHAT YOU FIND ACROSs INDUSTRIES IS THAT INnOVATION IS EVERYWHERE AND WE’RE ALl CONSTANTLY LOoKING FOR BETtER AND SMARTER WAYS OF DOING THINGS.”
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We Make It Work Brought to you by Virgin Media Business
EGg Specialising in film and television post production and visual effects (vfx), Dublin-based company Egg was set up in 2004 by film editors Gary Shortall and Gareth Young. Somewhat of an industry veteran having been involved in the industry since 1990, Managing Director Gary Shortall understands the inherently complicated nature of the business. “We exist, not just to provide a service, but to make our clients’ lives easier,” he states. “Simplification is what it’s all about. There are workflows that we’ve been working on for a long time and practices that are in place based on our experience.” Having grown from a boutique facility to one of Ireland’s leading innovators in post-production, Shortall and the team at Egg know what’s needed to manage a project throughout the entire process. “Once we’ve put the right people in place and we’ve got the right technology on board, it’s easier,” he says. “Facilitating our team is made simple by what we’re doing with Virgin due to the speed and reliability of its superfast broadband, especially in regard to our vfx area. It makes what we do possible and allows a seamless workflow.” Shortall’s ambition is to make Ireland a hub for vfx within a sustainable industry. “We have the talent, the experience and the tax credit to make us competitive, so we just have to keep building on that,” he enthuses. “At Egg we’ve had some major achievements and competed internationally, but it’s the team of great people we’ve put together that allows us to compete to that level.”
“ONCE WE’VE PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN PLACE AND WE’VE GOT THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY ON BOARD, IT’S EASIER.” Gary Shortall
VIEW THE VIDEO
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Brought to you by Virgin Media Business We Make It Work
DIGISOFT Technology firm Digisoft has been developing media delivery solutions for service providers, operators and telcos to help them minimise downtime and maximise revenues for over 19 years. Today, the company is leading the Industry 4.0 revolution through its digital twin products that offer a digital representation of a realworld entity or system. The company has not been shy in embracing new digital innovations. To stay relevant in business you occasionally have to pivot, according to CEO Fearghal Kelly. “We recently reassessed all of our systems and applications,” he comments. “We researched the market; everyone was talking about fintech, blockchain, AI and machine learning, but the piece we thought most interesting was augmented and virtual reality, as it played to our interactive learning strengths.” Like all great leaders, Kelly knows how to adjust company focus at any given phase during its lifespan. “The most exciting part is that we’ve found ourselves at the beginning of another start-up cycle,” he adds. “Our Industry 4.0 product, CastCatcher™, is being recognised as a game changer, so we’ve already picked up significant clients, and investment groups are proactively approaching us. Best of all we’ve been selected to join the Microsoft Accelerator programme, so we hope to scale it up globally in the near future.” Kelly concludes by highlighting the importance of connectivity to Digisoft’s offering. “We try and succeed fast,” he says. “That’s why all of our business, including communication with our clients and software developers, is sitting on top of Virgin’s ultrafast broadband. It’s remarkable that we’ve had no issues, especially as we have 40 staff based here at Republic of Work and we’re probably taking up at least half of the network!”
“THE MOST EXCITING PART IS THAT WE’VE FOUND OURSELVES AT THE BEGINnING OF ANOTHER START-UP CYCLE.” Fearghal Kelly
VIEW THE VIDEO
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Feature ï€ª The Age of the Influencer
COLIN WHITE REPORTS ON A NEW WAVE OF IRISH ENTREPRENEURS HARNESSING THE POWER OF VIDEO CONTENT ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA. 30 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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The Age of the Influencer Feature
s the Irish vlogger community becomes increasingly diverse and professional, more and more entrepreneurs are seeing the industry as a realistic gateway to fame and fortune. Social influencer marketing is changing the rules of engagement, as a batch of young individuals with the ability to influence are being utilised by worldwide brands looking to capitalise on the engaging nature of video content. The exposure video can generate for a brand is reinventing how marketers operate and today a hoard of savvy Irish businesspeople are thriving in this youthful industry. Additionally, there’s a batch of creatives leveraging video’s incredible power to raise their profile. These artists are bypassing so-called mainstream media and enticing viewers to their channels through platformspecific content aimed at a digitally adept audience. Focusing on four varying sectors (influencers, lifestyle, comedy and music), Better Business speaks with four individuals about video content creation and the role of the social influencer in modern society.
INFLUENCER INSIGHT: SINEAD CARROLL Sinead Carroll has been immersed in digital marketing and the blogging industry since 2013 and has seen first-hand the power that the modern influencer can carry. After noticing a gap in the market for a dedicated digital influencer agency, she set up the Irish Blogger Agency in 2015; a web platform that allows brands to collaborate with online influencers and social media content creators. The term influencer marketing is the process of finding and collaborating with individuals that influence a targeted segment on a specific social media channel. Carroll believes that creating content in collaboration with an influencer helps brands reach a new community of consumers. “Apart from garnering better engagement, your content gains credibility and a higher reach,” she explains. “Influencer marketing campaigns help you cut through the noise and make a lasting impact on your target audience. It also has the power to generate leads, drive conversions and generate a high return on investment. People will trust an honest review by an influencer they love over a generic advertisement.” Influencer marketing has seen tremendous growth in recent years. But, as with any emerging market, it must evolve in order to survive. “Data will play an essential role in decision making,” Sinead says. “Rather than focusing on singular metrics, brands will evaluate influencers across a spectrum of factors, such as creative affinity, engagement quality, growth rate and audience matching.” Brands have started turning to influencers as a creative workforce for video and Carroll believes this increase in demand will turn influencers into videographers. “I see brands expanding their focus to channels beyond Instagram and YouTube, with the focus changing to the likes of Pinterest or Tik Tok.” The most important step for becoming identified as a social media influencer is finding your niche, according to Sinead. “Be clear about your brand,” she advises. “Having a clear brand makes it easier for people to identify with you and makes your online presence seem very professional. Build
up a library of content in advance and also create evergreen content that can be shared throughout the year. It’s easy to run out of creative ideas, so having a backup of photos, videos and blogs makes it easier to stay fresh.” A good influencer knows how to engage with their audience and is aware of what content to create to keep them interested and wanting more. “Quality content and regular posts are key,” comments Sinead, “with a good balance of original and sponsored content. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that an influencer is easy to work with. Building a relationship is crucial, so it’s a big bonus if the influencer is easy and friendly to work with.” She continues: “It’s important to interact with followers. If they take the time to leave a comment, you should take the time to reply. Fans love following someone who actually pays attention to their comments and questions; take a little time each day to respond to your followers and build a relationship with them. But, also, be consistent.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 31
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Feature The Age of the Influencer
LIFESTYLE: CLISARE Clisare is one of Ireland’s most prominent YouTubers and is a member of that exclusive club with over 100,000 subscribers. Clisare (also known as Clare) has dabbled in a variety of content types (comedy sketches and travel vlogs, to name but a few) and has recently moved towards the increasingly popular trend of long-form lifestyle content. “My content has evolved over the years,” says the Mayo native. “For example, I’ll research a product that I think lots of people are interested in and use that product for a period of time. I’ll then record my daily reactions on the user experience, from ordering online to my final thoughts.”
“OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS THERE’S BEEN AN INCREASE IN BRAND WILLINGNESS TO WORK WITH YOUTUBERS. THEY DEFINITELY UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF INFLUENCER MARKETING AND ARE GETTING MORE SAVVY ABOUT QUALITY INTERACTIONS.”
Clare’s chosen form of content isn’t the only thing that has changed since she first began uploading videos; YouTube’s search algorithms have evolved too. Before 2012, YouTube measured success by views – no matter how short in duration the video. Today, user retention is what a successful channel is built upon. “It used to be all about clicks and short-form content,” Clare explains, “and the best practice was to upload weekly videos under two minutes in length. Now, it’s all about watch time and retaining the viewer for as long as possible, which means a total about-face in terms of strategy. Whereas I started with short snappy sketches trying to draw people in, I’m now trying to get people to engage with my channel and watch more content.” Another shift has been Clare’s approach to both pre and post-production. She says: “The kind of content I’m making now includes a lot of pre-planning, with each video taking a minimum of a week to put together. The research and filming are the most timeconsuming parts of the puzzle, and the editing is quite simple, which is the opposite situation to when I first started creating videos on YouTube.” The former YouTube Ambassador to Ireland admits that her target audience is much more specific than when she first entered the industry. “My audience has grown up with me,” she says, “and at the moment I mainly cater to women between the ages 25 to 34. I have pockets in every other demographic too, but I tend to tailor my content towards things that interest me, which, in turn, tends to resonate with women of a similar age to myself.” Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of brand-related content and marketers are constantly looking for new ways to engage audiences with branded content. “Over the last few years there’s been an increase in brand willingness to work with YouTubers,” states Clare. “They definitely understand the power of influencer marketing and are getting more savvy about quality interactions.” Existing in this highly competitive landscape is no easy task and Clare understands there are no guarantees of success. “I’d never advise anyone to rely solely on YouTube monetisation,” she comments. “If you want to be a full-time YouTuber, you need to diversify and make sure you have a couple of different avenues of income. Set up a Patreon [a platform that allows creators to crowdfund their work], or make sure you have a number of sponsored posts within a period of time across different networks.” Looking to the future, Clare’s aim is to continue to grow her channel, while discovering content that she enjoys making. “Being an online vlogger has helped my professional career to have a body of work that proves that I’m able to drive interest and build an online community,” she says. “This route has taken me to pretty good places so far, so I’m excited to see what happens next.”
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The Age of the Influencer Feature
COMEDY: TONY CANTWELL Hailed in media quarters as ‘one of Ireland’s funniest people’, Tony Cantwell’s improvisational comedy has been a welcome addition to the nation’s comedy circuit since the Dubliner first burst onto the scene. His zany, non-conformist style is both accessible to mainstream media, while also packing enough punch to sate critics and fellow comedians alike. His comedy is layered with social comment; unapologetic and unpolished, and that’s exactly what appeals to Cantwell’s growing number of fans. Cantwell is dismissive of any kind of pre-arranged master plan in his desire to entertain audiences, rather opting for a somewhat laissez-faire approach to his art. “There’s not as much planning as there should be,” he says. “For me, it’s just whenever an idea sparks, which is maybe why my content is less consistent than most vloggers. There isn’t a big machine behind me, I don’t have content going out at regular times and my videos don’t fit specific lengths. Basically, I am an aperitif in between a long course of social media for viewers.” Having been an early adopter of digital videography as a kid, it was the advent of the camera phone that allowed Cantwell to create “weird little pieces”. Best-known for the phenomenal success of short sketch ‘Meanwhile At Clongowes’ (seriously, watch it), Cantwell’s DIY style has struck a chord with audiences due to its inventiveness. “When I put a phone in front of my face, essentially what I’m creating are little character snapshots,” Tony states. “Like a storyboard or a first draft of something that could be a much bigger, and probably funnier, idea.” With over 4 million views online, Cantwell has succeeded in generating a noteworthy profile, but admits his reservations about the “vacuous circle” of online culture. “It’s undoubtedly a great way of reaching people, but I have a bittersweet relationship with social media,” he says. “Instagram, for example, I really enjoy, but I would love to cut down on my own personal use of social media. In fact, I think most people should.” He continues: “With the level of anonymity online, it’s almost like the social structures of society break down. I often wonder who is the real person is: the one who gives into their primal urges online, or the one who’s elevated in society to show the best version of themselves. As well as the toxic element to online activity, you’ll also see heart-warming comments… it’s amazing how there’s these extremes of social behaviour.”
A live crowd The Dublin-based comic has become one of the most promising talents on the comedy circuit. Due to his online presence, most in attendance at his live shows have seen a raft of his madcap meanderings before stepping foot inside the venue. “What I realised from the people coming to my shows
“I OFTEN WONDER WHO IS THE REAL PERSON IS: THE ONE WHO GIVES INTO THEIR PRIMAL URGES ONLINE, OR THE ONE WHO’S ELEVATED IN SOCIETY TO SHOW THE BEST VERSION OF THEMSELVES.” was that they’re not necessarily the regular crowd going to see stand-up gigs in Dublin,” Tony explains. “They’re fans of my videos and want to see a live version of that. The biggest challenge is trying to appropriate the video work for a live stage, and it’s what I’m still trying to fully figure out.” In an age in which we all absorb global content, aspiring vloggers have unlimited potential to build and engage with an online network of followers. But staying true to the core fundamentals of what makes people laugh is key to Cantwell’s success. “The social media success has enabled this fantastic opportunity where I’ve got a bit more of a name and I’m now bookable for stand-up shows,” he comments, “and that’s not something that I take lightly. I’m going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year and that’s a big priority for me.” He concludes: “I want to be better able to understand the ebbs and flows of a crowd and understand what makes them laugh. There’s no bigger challenge than standing in front of people and trying to make them laugh.”
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Feature The Age of the Influencer
MUSIC: ALLIE SHERLOCK Cork teenager Allie Sherlock became an online sensation in early 2018 after she won the hearts of the masses after an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, a behemoth in terms of exposure in the US market. Her performance went on to become the third mostwatched YouTube video of 2018 – crazy stuff for someone at the tender age of 13 when filming took place. Young, she may be, but there’s an intelligence and warmth – not to mention a seriously technical musical prowess – about Allie that belies her age. The exposure she received in the US led to the Corknative teaming up with former OneRepublic star Ryan Tedder in a production deal that has resulted in Allie recording in Los Angeles, with a release to follow later this year. Allie has also gained recognition for her busking performances on Dublin’s main thoroughfare, Grafton
“I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BUSKING. IT ALSO GENERATES CONTENT FOR MY YOUTUBE ACCOUNT AND FOR MY OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS.” Street. “I absolutely love busking,” she declares. “It also generates content for my YouTube account and for my other social media channels. When my album comes out I will probably need to stop, but I don’t really want to.” Her dad, Mark, who also acts as her manager, takes care of the audio-visual side of things during Allie’s busking performances. “First off, we need to queue for a busking spot for up to four hours sometimes, as there is a strict licencing system in place,” he says of the many weekends spent in Dublin. “I use a reasonable quality camera, which I had to buy as my phone was no longer good enough. I then upload the videos to YouTube and other social channels during the week and, hopefully, they receive a lot of views and positive feedback.” Allie is aware of the importance of a strong support network in such a cutthroat business. “He does everything for me, which I’m so grateful for as I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own,” she says. “He’s amazing. He runs his own business, but he’s taken all the time for anything I need in terms of the music and social media. I’d probably have one subscriber if I took care of things!”
Tightening rules With almost 5 billion videos watched on the platform every day, YouTube has become a worldwide content juggernaut; Google certainly thought so when the tech giant announced it was to pay $1.65bn for the service in 2006. It’s here – as well as on Instagram – where the
Sherlocks have enjoyed the most success. “It’s important to be consistent in what you’re uploading, because that’s how you build a fan base and a following,” Allie says in regard to the expectations of her 1.68 million subscribers. “I just keep getting my content out there and I receive a lot of feedback on YouTube, but I don’t feel there’s any pressure, except when my dad occasionally forgets to post!” How YouTube monetises content for creators like Allie has come in for some criticism. Recently, the platform further tightened its rules around the requirements that a channel must meet in order to monetise videos. “If a video received a lot of views, you would be lucky to earn €1 per thousand views,” explains Mark, “but, unfortunately, most of the time the original artist takes a high percentage of that. For example, when Allie sang Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flowers it had over 9 million views – and Allie received €5. Which I think is very unfair, as it’s also good for Ed Sheeran that Allie brings some advertising for him.” The anonymity that the internet provides has led to a virulent online culture in some respects, with abuse on the increase. Allie concludes: “It certainly exists, especially on YouTube, rather than Facebook or Instagram, in my experience. But it’s also nice to see positive comments coming in. Lots of people will suggest songs in comments, and I’ll often end up covering them. I certainly enjoy this type interaction with my fans.”
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INDUSTRY EXPERTS JOHN OLIVER AND PATRICK J. BYRNES REVIEW THE CURRENT STATE OF THE 3D PRINTING INDUSTRY IN IRELAND AND EXAMINE THE WAYS IN WHICH THIS TECHNOLOGY WILL CONTINUE TO EVOLVE. TO
3D Printing ď€Š Feature
printing (also known as additive manufacturing) has become one of the most disruptive technologies in terms of transforming the ways in which products are designed, developed, manufactured and distributed. Having first been developed in the 1980s, the focus during the early stages of 3D printing technology was on prototyping, which enabled quicker turnaround times for product development. Over time, the types of technologies and the available materials expanded, allowing for more accurate prototypes and the laying of foundations for the development of end-user products. Since then, the number of suppliers has increased significantly and the cost of equipment has reduced. Expansion from polymers into metals, composites and ceramics has further widened the application space.
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Feature 3D Printing
With over 20 years’ experience as a strategy and innovation leader in the printing industry, John Oliver has previously worked as R&D strategist and Chief Engineer in HP’s inkjet printing business. His current role as Business Development Manager with I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, involves linking industry and academia to deliver impactful collaborative research projects, while also identifying commercialisation opportunities from the centre’s core research. “3D printing has improved the economic viability of customisation and individualisation in manufacturing,” says Oliver. “Being able to design and model digitally and create unique parts per individual has applications across many industrial and consumer products. In addition, the combination of 3D printing and generative design has led to optimised lightweight designs of components that have proven to be highly valued, particularly in transport vehicles, where overall weight is directly linked to running cost.” He continues: “While the cost of raw material remains stubbornly high for many applications, the economics now work for relatively small batch sizes of products or components for end use. A number of applications have passed the ‘hype stage’, such as custom hearing devices and dental implants, while expansion into automotive, aerospace and other medical devices is in full swing.” The customisation benefits from 3D printing have greatly improved many medical devices with respect to meeting patient requirements. In terms of supply chain disruption, 3D printing has the promise to enable ‘point-of-use’ production, where the actual product is manufactured near the end user and ondemand. This is already in progress for the spare parts industry, where companies are beginning to keep ‘digital inventories’ and print on demand. Croom Precision Medical’s Patrick J. Byrnes weighs in on the discussion. “Additive manufacturing has become a core focus for us here at Croom Precision Medical,” states the Research and Development Manager. “We initially incorporated polymer additive manufacturing into our services, however, we soon learnt that the barriers to entry
John Oliver, Business Development Manager, I-Form
“IN TERMS OF SECTOR, THE MEDICAL DEVICE INDUSTRY IN IRELAND HAS BEEN A PIONEER IN DEVELOPING AND QUALIFYING 3D PRINTED DEVICES FOR END-USERS IN BOTH POLYMER AND METAL.”
were low for potential competitors to gain market share and we shifted our attention to metallic additive manufacturing in late 2012, which required a scientific mindset to adopt this early technology to a production setting. “This is where we began to work closely with organisations such as I-Form and also international universities such as the University of Liverpool and University College Dublin. Metal additive manufacturing has been trending within the medical device sector for the past number of years as it’s possible to manufacture custom-fit orthopaedic implants and bone-like stochastic structures from titanium metal. This inherently enables bone in growth to printed orthopaedic implants.”
Pay close attention Irish companies have played their part in terms of innovation within the industry. Mcor Technologies was a pioneer in the development of eco-friendly 3D printing technologies and many Irish companies have adopted 3D printing for improved prototype development and quick-turn spare part manufacture. “In terms of sector, the medical device industry in Ireland has been a pioneer in developing and qualifying 3D printed devices for end-users in both polymer and metal,” Oliver informs. “In addition, there is a relatively large research community between academia and industry focused on tissue engineering for medical applications using 3D printing technologies.”
Byrnes adds: “Ireland hosts a cluster of multinational orthopaedic companies, which is one of its kind globally. As such, many of these companies have been striving to harness additive manufacturing for their respective product portfolios in order to provide a greater value-add to the end customer. “This journey depended on local Irish small firms accelerating not just the additive manufacturing process itself but the entire ecosystem that supports the new process. These Irish firms are now in great demand by internationally based companies looking to enter the sector, as they have a wealth of knowledge to be harnessed.” Once an industry buzzword, today most people are aware of 3D printing and there
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3D Printing Feature
is a growing understanding of the potential of this technology amongst the general public. However, there is still work required in this area, according to John Oliver. “As an SFI Research Centre, we at I-Form have a responsibility to engage with the public,” he explains. “Every conversation we have, whether through schools or public events, is a fruitful one. The hands-on physical nature of the technology is relatively easy
to understand and the potential-use cases capture the imagination. This technology has the potential to put more power into consumer’s hands by enabling customisation and ‘point-of-use’ production.” The future of human work is one of creativity and entrepreneurship, and 3D printing can help realise this for future generations. I-Form is engaged in a teacher-training programme for 3D printing to ensure the technology is understood and used within the classroom. “The opportunities to repair broken items and replace components are huge,” describes Oliver. “This is an important area to pursue if we are to truly move from a throwaway culture to one of sustainability.”
Threats and opportunities
Patrick J. Byrnes, Research and Development Manager, Croom Precision Medical
Point-of-use production is a real longterm threat to Irish manufacturing companies using 3D printing. In a digital manufacturing future, with higher levels of automation, the trend to move production closer to large population bases is a risk. To counteract this trend, Irish companies must produce the highest quality products at competitive prices, and these custom products must be delivered in a quick turn-
“THE HANDS-ON PHYSICAL NATURE OF THE TECHNOLOGY IS RELATIVELY EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND THE POTENTIAL USE CASES CAPTURE THE IMAGINATION.”
Did You Know? According to Statista, the global 3D printing industry’s value is projected to reach
around time. “By partnering with academia on the latest technology developments, the opportunity is present to achieve the right cost structure to compete,” stresses Oliver. “Working together, the Irish research and innovation eco-system can achieve breakthroughs that are only possible through collaboration.” Another potential issue is a readily available workforce. Currently talent in design, process and product engineering for 3D printing is scarce and in highdemand. However, at the same time, the talent pipeline is growing. The I-Form SFI Research Centre was recently successful in securing funding under an initiative in conjunction with Science Foundation Ireland and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK for a doctoral centre programme whereby 25 PhD students will be trained in Ireland. Oliver explains: “Many of these students will carry out their research projects on metal 3D printing in conjunction with Irish manufacturers. Additionally, through our work with the European Institute of Technology Manufacturing, we are also developing training programmes in a range of advance manufacturing areas, both for third-level students, as well as for those working in industry.” 3D printing has taken a foothold where the economics make sense and where something unique can be delivered that wasn’t possible by traditional means. As the economics continue to improve and the material selection widens, the application space will continue to expand, but the business case must be there. “There is still a lot of hype surrounding the potential of the technology,” informs Oliver, “but in terms of consumer awareness, examples of clothing, footwear, jewellery and artwork will continue to increase and capture the imagination.” He concludes: “With respect to 4D printing, the ability to print in functionality that can be triggered at a later date has enormous potential, but as with 3D printing, the technology will start in niche applications and grow over time as products begin to be qualified – it will not be an overnight revolution.”
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Spotlight Smart business
THE TEAM AT TRANSGENDER EQUALITY NETWORK IRELAND (TENI) ARE REAPING THE BENEFITS FROM BOOSTED PRODUCTIVITY AND RESPONSIVENESS THROUGH VODAFONE’S ONE NET BUSINESS.
ENI is dedicated to advancing the rights of trans people and their families in Ireland. Their work spans advocacy, education and workplace training, but TENI’s most important function is supporting the transgender community. This makes effective communication vital to their mission. From straightforward information requests to crisis prevention calls, it’s crucial that TENI’s lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that calls can always be directed to the team member best equipped to field them. “Communication is key to everything we do,” says Sara Phillips, Chair of TENI. “We need to be able to contact staff. We need them to be mobile. We need them to be flexible.” Previously, TENI’s communication systems had been supplied by a number of different providers. This resulted in struggling to manage high-call volumes, mailboxes filling up too quickly, fragmented admin and bills, and difficulty and delays reaching the right people at the right time. The decision to re-evaluate their communications infrastructure came with the move to a new Dublin headquarters in July 2018. They knew they needed a single provider to meet all their needs. The solution TENI chose was Vodafone’s One Net Business.
The TENI team
Transformative solution The complete One Net Business solution puts the TENI team in control. Integrated mobile and landline connectivity means being able to connect and collaborate anytime, anywhere. Team members can participate in meetings remotely, and calls can be quickly and seamlessly directed to the right person, even when they are offsite. One Net Business means TENI now has a future-proof system that enables the team to work smarter and be more responsive, transforming their ability to work towards their mission. Commenting on the positive impact these improvements have had on their staff and volunteers, Stephen O’Hare, CEO of TENI, said: “This system enables the team to collaborate more effectively. That makes for a more productive environment and ultimately a better environment to work in. We have gone from Vodafone being just our mobile provider to providing all of the solutions that we need to connect to the community.”
Exciting future The future for TENI is bright. One Net Business helps the organisation to operate in a smoother way, ensuring the TENI team are more confident that they can manage the volume of calls that come in, and that they can respond in time and provided critical information whenever and wherever it’s needed. “This is an evolving organisation and the way we are communicating with our community is evolving,” says O’Hare. “Technology changes, the way people want to connect changes, and we need to be responsive.” TENI are confident that One Net Business will help them achieve their aims and their mission. O’Hare summarises the power of a solution like this for the organisation and the community with a simple, important point: “Ultimately it will open the door for people to connect with TENI, and that’s what we want to do.” Find out more at vodafone.ie/business
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In Association With
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04/07/2019 12:28 12:27
Interview Dr Catherine Faherty
family IT’S A
Q. Tell me a little bit about your current role at Northwestern University.
Dr Catherine Faherty
My current role is Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Center for Family Enterprises (KCFE). Today KCFE is recognised as one of the world’s leading family business institutions, offering programmes to MBA and executive students. My role here differs from day-to-day, but I’m mostly involved in leading our research projects. For example, right now I’m working on a family business study in collaboration with Professor Eli Finkel – one of the world’s leading relationship scientists, and a professor here at Kellogg – looking at sibling relationships in family enterprises and the important, yet often unrecognised, role played by spouses. Q. Your PhD research focused on trust dynamics in family firms. Why did you choose this topic?
Prior to joining Northwestern, I spent nine years at Dublin City University (DCU) where I earned both my PhD and Bachelor’s degrees. Families throughout the world comprise naturally occurring communities that generate trust relations. As such, family firms are often referred to as high-trust organisations. Despite this, family firms are uniquely complex entities, and even though they comprise distinct features that can facilitate trust, we know that they are particularly vulnerable to forces that can lead to the dilution or dissolution of trust, which can have devastating consequences for both the family and the firm. Surprisingly, few studies in the context of family enterprise have been directed towards the topic of trust, and, consequently, we know little about how it manifests in these firms. My research is one of the first empirical investigations to examine this phenomenon.
ORGANISATIONAL BEHAVIOUR EXPERT DR CATHERINE FAHERTY SPEAKS WITH BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUST WITHIN ANY FAMILY BUSINESS. Q. What were the main takeaways from the research, particularly in relation to small family firms?
For this study, I conducted a large-scale survey of family firm executives across Ireland. One key finding of the study indicates that when it comes to trust, family leaders need to do more to ensure key non-family members feel trusted within the organisation. When employees feel trusted by their leader, they are more committed to the firm and feel a greater sense of pride – resulting in better performance. Thus, it is crucial that the important role of nonfamily members is recognised and rewarded in family firms. A second insight relates to the role of next-generation involvement. Next-generation members are often perceived as less trustworthy than the founding generation, and this study also demonstrated these patterns. Hence, family firms must ensure that next-generation members adhere to a high standard of firm entry, given that they have an extra burden of proof in demonstrating their ability based on merit, and not just lineage. To do this, family members may require more outside work experience than nonfamily employees, or a higher level of education. This practice will encourage only the most competent family members to join the firm, while also ensuring that there is ample room for upward career paths for able, non-family employees. Q. How did it feel when your thesis was shortlisted for The Grigor McClelland Doctoral Dissertation Award?
Surreal! The Grigor McClelland Award is an annual prize awarded to innovative PhD scholarship in any discipline within management and organisational studies. The primary focus of this prestigious award is to recognise doctoral research that covers significantly new terrain, or counters existing thinking.
“FAMILY LEADERS NEED TO DO MORE TO ENSURE KEY NONFAMILY MEMBERS FEEL TRUSTED WITHIN THE ORGANISATION.”
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Digital Strategy ï€© Feature
COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT ALAN DUNCAN PROVIDES SOME PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON HOW SMALL FIRMS CAN HONE THEIR ONLINE STRATEGIES IN AN AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION.
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Feature Digital Strategy
process of building a digital strategy can tend to generate more questions than answers for many small firms. The speed and scope of change in the digital marketplace can be overwhelming for many business leaders struggling to come to terms with what’s required to flourish online. As digital communication becomes both more global and personal, firms will need to create content that resonates with audiences around the world. To do that, identifying the universal pains their solutions solve will be essential, according to Alan Duncan, Managing Director at Agile Communications. “Today’s online consumer demands what I call ‘authentic value’,” says the experienced marketing professional. “These are interactions not driven by sales but by a genuine desire to add value to the customer based around the beliefs and values of your brand. It may be entertaining, educational, value-based, whatever – the key is that it is authentic and backed by the actions of your business in the physical world.” He adds: “Driven by better internet speeds, mobile data packages and smart technologies, the way in which people consume content is also changing. While textrich content still plays an important role, businesses should look to develop material across a plethora of media.” In 2011, Duncan launched SelectPR, a B2B and technology PR agency that put content at the heart of brand strategy. Over the years, the firm has continued to innovate better approaches to raising engagement and credibility between its clients and their markets. The recent rebrand to Agile Communications reflects the evolving nature of communications. “Today, for marketing to have any hope of meeting your business objectives,” declares Duncan, “you need to adopt an omni-channel approach, developing and adapting your content to capture the attention of your audiences across email, print, digital and social media. “We’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing, forward-thinking businesses that have trusted us to help them tell their best story. While we work with a number of large multinationals, I still love getting down in the trenches with small and mediumsized businesses to develop communications strategies that deliver growth.”
New thinking We live in a world where the relentlessness of change is driving a desire for a new way of thinking in how we do business. However, Duncan stresses that not all Irish firms are getting it right in terms of their digital output. “Some small Irish businesses are absolutely nailing their digital strategies,” he says. “Sadly, I think they’re in the minority. For most, failure to commit the necessary time and budget, not understanding their consumers’ behaviours and inconsistent implementation means results tend to be quite poor. It’s a real shame, as there are fantastic companies with amazing products and services that do themselves a disservice as a result of poor digital communications.” Duncan stresses that the biggest mistakes tend to happen at the outset for small firms. Keen to get started, too many businesses go straight into posting on social channels or blogging on their website without a clear strategy. “Take the time to really understand your customer and the value your brand can offer,” he explains. “Then look at your messaging: does it resonate with the consumer? Once you’ve done that, consider the type of content you need to create and map how it will work across the various channels your customers use.” The second biggest mistake, according to Duncan, is erratic communications, which tends to come as a direct result of the first error. He states: “Businesses start their
comms efforts with a flurry, but quickly their ideas begin to dwindle, motivation dries up and activity plummets. Countless social media accounts, company blogs and newsletters have been resigned to the scrapheap of neglected communication tools because they failed to effectively plan out their content strategy.”
Long live the king The role of a digital team is to conceptualise and oversee the company’s digital presence, but too often there is no official role for a digital team or individual. For Duncan, there is no doubting that all modern businesses should have a dedicated communications person. “You wouldn’t use size as an excuse for neglecting your company’s accounting, so why neglect the functions that will help you grow your business?” he asks. “If you don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated content manager, invest in a consultant who can
“TODAY, FOR MARKETING TO HAVE ANY HOPE OF MEETING YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES, YOU NEED TO ADOPT AN OMNI-CHANNEL APPROACH, DEVELOPING AND ADAPTING YOUR CONTENT TO CAPTURE THE ATTENTION OF YOUR AUDIENCES ACROSS EMAIL, PRINT, DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA.”
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Digital Strategy Feature
a media angle you can use to create a press release? Can you make the data more visual through infographics? Do you have expertise to answer the challenges thrown up by the report? If so, would a webinar be suitable? Would people be willing to share their data to get the report? If so, how are you using social media, email, etc. to drive people to the ‘gated’ content?
Alan Duncan, Managing Director, Agile Communications
help you develop a strategy you or your team can implement, and demonstrate how different marketing channels can be integrated.” Small firms need to understand the impact of their communications activity and constantly review what’s working and what’s not, while also considering their strengths and weaknesses. “In terms of training, Google Analytics is a must,” informs Duncan. “But consider where your markets hangout too. If they’re on LinkedIn, then educate yourself about utilising LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Or if you have an amazing writer in the company, then invest in their development through writing courses, SEO training, etc. If you’re a natural in front of the camera, then focus more of your efforts there.” Companies that succeed digitally truly practise what they preach by developing and syndicating amazing content that meets almost every issue their target market experiences. Furthermore, they connect their digital communications with traditional marketing and sales functions to create an incredibly effective system that powers their bottom line. Quality content is still king, according to Duncan, but understanding how you will distribute your content is equally as important. “Like in a game of chess, the king cannot succeed on its own,” Duncan says. “No matter how great your content is, if no one ever sees it, it won’t achieve anything for your business. This comes back to strategy; when developing your content calendar, you need to identify what form the content will take and where it will live. “For example, if you’ve invested in creating a truly insightful industry report, is there
The need for an agile digital strategy is clear, yet it feels out of reach for some small or micro businesses, but there are multiple benefits from working with an external consultancy firm – the most obvious being the expertise an external company brings in managing your communications, allowing you to focus on the growth of your business, but external consultancy can also bring a fresh perspective. “It is very easy to become blinkered in your communications approach. Whereas an external firm is not caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and can see things differently and can identify opportunities you might otherwise miss. “We’ve worked with numerous companies across a variety of industries developing and refining their digital communications to meet their goals,” Duncan informs. “We know what works and what doesn’t. Also, delivering quality communications takes time. There’s a common misconception that social media is free. It’s not – the time you spend managing social accounts or drafting a blog is time you could have invested in billing clients or enhancing your product offering.” Duncan’s plan for the year ahead is to continue developing Agile Communication’s reputation as a goto comms agency for B2B and tech companies in Ireland and the UK. “We’re on a strong growth curve,” he states. “We’re also developing a number of training courses to equip businesses that might not have the budget or need for a retained service with the knowledge and skills to make their marketing communications a success.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 43
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Trading Places ï€ª Holly McGlynn
COLIN WHITE SPEAKS WITH A DUBLIN ARTIST WHOSE UNIQUE BRAND OF PHOTOGRAPHY HAS ALREADY LEFT AN INDELIBLE MARK ON THE LONDON PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE. Holly McGlynn
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Holly McGlynn Trading Places
photography industry is constantly changing and evolving. The fast pace, combined with the fact that it is overwhelmingly composed of individual freelance professionals, makes it a very dynamic and exciting marketplace in which to operate. London-based Holly McGlynn is best known for her work as a fashion, beauty and portrait photographer. Since her first foray into the industry, she has found a way to stand out from the crowd by working hard to build her own style and portfolio. McGlynn’s journey began with a solid foundation of education. “I came to photography after university while I was living abroad,” she explains. “I did History of Art and French at Trinity, then an MA in PR at DIT before moving to Berlin, where I discovered photography. Lots of people around me, justifiably, thought it was just a phase, but I knew immediately that I wanted to make photography my life’s work.” The diversity and dynamism of London held a special allure for the emerging photographer from the outset and McGlynn made the move when the city’s art scene and unrelenting creative energy became too hard to resist. “I always wanted to move to a global hub like London or New York,” she says. “The sector is much bigger here and it feels like there’s room for more photographers. It’s expensive, busy, relentless, and probably not for everyone, but I love it.” There is more interest than ever in the medium of photography. Smartphone technology has disrupted how people engage with photography. We’ve never had more access to visual stimulation and social media channels provide the perfect platform for international brands to target customers. “It’s been interesting to watch the shift of resources, focus and budget into social media compared to print campaigns,” states McGlynn. “I joined the industry as brands were first exploring social media and if usage was ‘just for social media’ then it wouldn’t be a big
“THE SECTOR IS MUCH BIGGER HERE AND IT FEELS LIKE THERE’S ROOM FOR MORE PHOTOGRAPHERS. IT’S EXPENSIVE, BUSY, RELENTLESS, AND PROBABLY NOT FOR EVERYONE, BUT I LOVE IT.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 45
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Trading Places Holly McGlynn
production. But, that’s changed massively now, of course.” She adds: “I really like how fast-paced and continually evolving the industry is. I love producing a lot of images, meeting deadlines and working in teams. I’ve always been obsessed with style and I think fashion photography, at its best, is fine art. The element of storytelling and escapism within fashion photography is what excites me most.”
Unconscious bias The talented photographer is steadfast in her belief that the photography industry has struggled with misogyny in much the same way as its Hollywood counterpart. The stats of women in photography are shocking: although 80% of photography graduates are female, they only make up 15% of professional photographers working within the field; eight out of nine photography competition winners are male; and approximately 90% of agency-represented photographers are male. Furthermore, at last year’s Irish Magazine Awards, six men were shortlisted for Photographer of the Year. There has been a hideous, but necessary, exposure of abuse within both fashion and fashion photography. A number of world-famous photographers have recently been exposed as part of the #MeToo movement. However, there is a cohort of like-minded professionals continuing to push the envelope in terms of equality and the fair treatment of women. McGlynn states: “Is the male domination within the industry because women aren’t good enough to be shortlisted, or because men are being commissioned much more and therefore eligible for nomination? There’s a huge unconscious bias taking place and I want to make as much noise as possible about it. “I think the sector needs to address this unconscious bias for anything to change. Organisations really need to examine their commissioning practices and ask themselves how many of their campaigns or editorials are being photographed only by men and what can be done to redress the balance. “It will require changing working methods, it may require
Did You Know?
million pictures are uploaded to Instagram every day..
specifically seeking out female talent and it will require taking a chance on someone you haven’t worked with before, but men are given these chances so much more readily than women. It astonishes me how many brands and magazines have a target audience of women, use women as models, but don’t consider women to take the photos.”
A feminst gaze McGlynn considers her style both feminine and feminist and the Dubliner is committed to promoting diversity within the fashion and beauty industries through the models and creative teams she chooses
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Holly McGlynn Trading Places
to work with. Her bold, colourful imagery tells a powerful story: that any female photographer can succeed by being true to the core values of respect and integrity. “I think my work is feminist because I am a feminist and the photos are taken through that gaze,” she says. “I won’t photograph gratuitous nudity and I question the motivation behind sexualising a model. I don’t objectify models and I always ensure models are age-appropriate. Furthermore, I don’t slim models down in the retouching process and I never make alterations to a model’s features.” It can be challenging for aspiring shutterbugs to get a break, especially within the fiercely competitive UK market. McGlynn’s advice to any would-be photographer is always the same: be absolutely relentless. “There’s a lot of rejection in the industry, but you can’t let it eat away at you, as it’s par for the course,” she says. “My first big break in fashion photography came after being universally ignored by every brand and magazine I contacted for two years. Then, out of the blue, a national title I’d been emailing consistently commissioned me and that suddenly opened so many doors.” The importance of a good first impression is vital, however, and McGlynn believes a portfolio should portray a photographer’s unique vision; a cohesive body of work with enough scope to provide a solid idea of the photographer’s taste and style. “Every spare moment you should try to organise test shoots to put together a portfolio of work,” she states. “Consider your audience and always play to your strengths. You’re only ever a phone call away from someone who can commission you.”
Lack of clarity
“MY FIRST BIG BREAK IN FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY CAME AFTER BEING UNIVERSALLY IGNORED BY EVERY BRAND AND MAGAZINE I CONTACTED FOR TWO YEARS. THEN, OUT OF THE BLUE, A NATIONAL TITLE I’D BEEN EMAILING CONSISTENTLY COMMISSIONED ME AND THAT SUDDENLY OPENED SO MANY DOORS.”
With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looking evermore likely, McGlynn understands that uncertainty and anxiety has extended to every corner of the fashion industry, including photography. “The entire sector is scrambling in the lack of clarity,” she says. “So many brands rely on imported materials and international talent. The Brexit gridlock means no one feels capable or empowered to make decisions, to forecast or plan for the short to medium term. This all has a knock-on effect on shoot budgets and how much content is planned. Lots of UK-based brands are putting creative on hold until a way forward becomes clear. Without a doubt, I’m developing my international client base as we speak. Hope springs eternal for a second referendum!” McGlynn has succeeded in creating a clear genre and style that gives her a competitive edge within a crowded sector. And the future looks bright for the determined entrepreneur. “I’ve just signed with an agent, so I’m thrilled about taking my career to the next level,” she enthuses. “I want to be shooting for British Vogue and I’m so excited about the magazine’s new direction under Edward Enninful’s editorship.” She concludes: “My goal is to see the images I’ve shot for global brands on the sides of buses and on massive digital billboards in Times Square. It’s ambitious, but so am I, and I’m prepared to put the necessary work in. So let’s see.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 47
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SFA Policy SME Tax Incentives
Taxing WE SHARE OUR THOUGHTS ON SME TAX INCENTIVES AND HOW IT COULD POTENTIALLY IMPACT SMALL FIRMS.
In May, the SFA made a written submission to the Minister for Finance on SME tax incentives – the Department were seeking feedback in relation to the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII); Startup Refunds for Entrepreneur (SURE); the Start-up Capital Initiative (SCI); the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP); and CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief. The SFA has sought changes in our taxation system for several years and last year we launched a new campaign calling for a ‘Supportive Tax Environment for Small Firms’ in collaboration with PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes. This campaign calls on the Minister for Finance to develop tax policies that can assist small indigenous businesses. Based on member feedback, we produced a policy paper outlining sustainable reforms across three themes: investment, employment and administration. It is our strongly held belief that immediate changes to our tax policy are required in order to assist businesses to attract and retain
staff, encourage entrepreneurs, promote innovation, attract investors and reduce tax administration. The express aim of EII, SURE, SCI, KEEP and CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief is to improve the environment for entrepreneurs and business people setting up or carrying on productive business activities in the State. This consultation provided the Association with the opportunity to recommend changes to these reliefs, propose changes to current tax rates and seek a reduction in the burden of tax administration on small companies. SFA,s key recommendations to the EII, SURE, SCI, KEEP and CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief consultation:
1 Increase the lifetime limit of €1m for
Entrepreneur Relief immediately to at least €5m and in the longer term to €15m; 2 Introduce investor relief at a 10% CGT rate up to lifetime taxable gains of €1m;
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Water Business Charges SFA Policy
3 Increase EIIS relief from €150,000 to at least
€500,000 per annum. Allow the EIIS tax relief to be claimed in its entirety in year one at 40% and apply the relief to PRSI and USC also; 4 Review the KEEP legislation to make it more widely available and attractive to companies and employees to ensure that it satisfies the purpose for which it was created to provide tax efficient share options to employees and that they can avail of CGT rates on the disposal of their shares (even to the issuing company); and 5 Improve the promotion of SURE, SCI and all entrepreneurial reliefs. In addition to the above the SFA also sought to: ■ Reduce the current CGT rate of 33% immediately to 28% and ultimately to 20%, in line with the OECD average; ■ Increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,650 to equal the PAYE tax credit in Budget 2020; and ■ Reduce the cost and administration burden of the tax system on entrepreneurs. Taxation is one of the most powerful tools available to Government and it is promising that the Department of Finance is consulting with stakeholders on taxation supports for SMEs. On top of this consultation, in June, the SFA made a submission to the Research & Development Tax Credit Review 2019, where we sought consideration for: ■ A centre of excellence in Revenue; ■ Clear sector-specific guidance to claim this
relief; and ■ Preapproval from Revenue for small companies,
so they have clarity on whether they will qualify for the relief and avoid costly correspondence with the Revenue in the future. By implementing the recommendations within our submissions and the ‘Supportive Tax Environment for Small Firms’ policy paper, the Government would be improving Ireland’s relative tax competitiveness to create a supportive environment for small businesses. As we prepare our Budget 2020 submission, we will continue to focus on changes to tax policy. The SFA SME tax incentives submission is available at www.sfa.ie.
Share your Views
THE SHAPE OF WATER The SFA recently made a submission on the CRU’s Proposed Decision on Irish Water’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework. The purpose of the Framework is to generate a harmonised suite of tariffs for non-domestic water and wastewater customers. The CRU’s Proposed Decision on Irish Water’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework reflects its amendments to Irish Water’s original proposals following consideration of the feedback received from a range of stakeholders, including business and farming representatives and members of the public. Our response highlighted our concern regarding the 10,000 connections that will not reach their enduring tariffs by the end of the three-year transition period and the need for a comprehensive communications plan to inform non-domestic users, especially small businesses, of the new tariff framework. The submission reiterated the Association's support of the introduction of nondomestic tariffs for both metered and unmetered connections on a national basis. It also outlined the need to monitor the efficiency of Irish Water. Once responses to the Proposed Decision consultation have been considered, the CRU will issue their Final Decision in mid-2019. The confirmed changes to business tariffs are expected in Q2 2020. Irish Water will communicate directly with all businesses when the CRU Final Decision is published, and the new tariffs and charges are confirmed. SFA will be available to support and work with members during this time. In the meantime, to get an idea of what your new charges could be, visit the Irish Water Business Tariff Calculator at www.water.ie/for-business/billing-explained/business-tariffcalculator Please note only water in and out costs are changing – trade effluent costs are not included in the proposed changes. The full submission to the CRU is available at www.sfa.ie.
To share your views on these topics or to raise any other policy concerns contact, Elizabeth Bowen, SFA Senior Executive, on 01 605 1626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HR Extended Parental Leave
EXTENDED PARENTAL LEAVE SFA EXECUTIVE HELEN QUINN DISCUSSES A BILL DUE TO COME IN FORCE IN THE AUTUMN AND ALSO ADVISES WHAT SMALL FIRMS NEED TO KNOW IF HIRING EMPLOYEES UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
Last year, the Government announced it will be giving a new parental leave benefit to encourage both parents to be with their child during the first year of the child’s life and improve the work-life balance for mothers and fathers. The Parental Leave and Benefit Bill is expected to come into force on 1 November 2019 and both parents will receive two weeks of paid parental leave, which must be taken within the first year of the child’s life. The Government will extend this leave to seven weeks by 2021 and the payment of €245 per week will be made by the State. Aspects of the new bill include the following: 1 Each parent will be entitled to the leave
Helen Quinn, SFA Executive
where the birth date of the child falls on or after 1 November 2019 or the day of placement in the case of adoption if it is on or after 1 November 2019. An employee must have 12 months’ continuous service to qualify. The leave cannot be transferred between parents, except in the case where one parent dies, then all or the remaining leave is transferred to the other parent. The parental leave operates on a use-itor-lose-it basis if it is not taken within the first year of the child’s life. The parental leave cannot be taken before the date of birth, or in the case of adoption, before the date of placement. The minimum amount of leave that can be taken is one week at a time or the entire leave can be taken in one go. This leave is protected leave where employees continue to accrue annual leave and public holiday entitlements and all their other conditions of employment remain the same when they return to work. The employee must give their employer a minimum of four weeks’ written notice of their intention to take this leave.
This new paid parental leave benefit is in addition to all the other protective leaves, which are: 1 26 weeks’ paid maternity leave and 16
weeks’ unpaid additional maternity leave to mothers. 2 Two weeks’ paid paternity leave to fathers to be taken within six months of the birth of the child. 3 24 weeks’ paid adoptive leave to adopting mothers and sole male adopters as well as 16 weeks’ unpaid additional adoptive leave. 4 Currently 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child to each parent which must be taken before the child reaches eight years, or 16 years in the case of a child with a disability or longterm illness. In addition, the unpaid parental leave is expected to be extended to 18 weeks to 22 weeks from September 2019 and a further four weeks will be added in September 2020, so that parents will be entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave. The age of the child will increase from eight to 12 years of age. What this also means is that the additional eight weeks leave will apply to parents who have used some or all of their 18 weeks’ parental leave once they qualify for it. For example, if a parent has taken 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave and their child is ten years of age, they can then take the additional eight weeks, as long as the child has not reached the age threshold of 12. These new changes are part of a wider EU drive to increase flexibility in the workplace for both parents so that they can spend more time with their children in their formative years.
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Hiring Employees Under 18
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN HIRING EMPLOYEES UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE With summer holidays upon us, it can be an ideal opportunity for businesses to hire young people who are looking for work experience to cover holiday absences. There are some considerations from an employment law perspective that your business should be aware off and this article will take you through your obligations when hiring someone under 18 years of age.
Before employing someone under 16 years, you must see a copy of their birth certificate and obtain the written permission of their parent or guardian. You must display an abstract of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 where it can be easily seen and read as well as providing a copy of it to each employee along with their written statement of terms and conditions of employment.
Rates of pay
The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 applies to all employees under 18 years of age. The act defines a child as someone under 16 years of age and a young person is defined as someone under 18. Generally, the act prohibits the employment of children under 16 unless it is light work. Those aged 14 to 15 can work during the school holidays provided they receive a minimum three-week break from work during the summer. Those aged 15 can work during school term subject to the maximum hours per week detailed in the table below. Children can also be employed in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising work, as long as it does not interfere with their attendance at school, vocational guidance or training.
When a young person (under 18) is carrying out actual work they must be paid the National Minimum Wage, which is currently €6.86 per hour.
General information Businesses must retain the following records for three years when employing young persons: ■ Full name ■ Date of birth ■ Start and finish times each day ■ Rate of wages paid per day, week, month, or as appropriate ■ Total amount of wages paid to each person
Maximum working week, daily rest periods and hours of work The below table sets out the following for those aged 14-15 years old: Age
Max hours per week and day during school term
Max hours per week and per day outside school term
Permitted hours of work each day
35 hours per week. 7 hours per day
8 hours per week
35 hours per week. 7 hours per day
Child employees must receive a 30-minute break for every four hours they work, receive a consecutive period of rest for 14 hours in every 24 hours and have two days off in every seven days. The below table sets out the following for those aged 16-17 years old: Age
Max hours per week and day during school term
Max hours per week and per day outside school term
Permitted hours of work each day
Employees aged 16-17 years old must receive a 30-minute break for every four and half hours they work, a consecutive period of rest for 12 hours in every 24 hours. They should receive two days off together where this is practical. There are regulations that allow a 16 or 17-year-old working in licensed premises to work beyond 10pm, subject to specific requirements that are detailed in the Code of Practice Concerning the Employment of Young Persons in Licensed Premises.
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Events SFA Annual Conference 2019
Pictured (L-R): Audrey O’Mahony, Accenture; Lianne Kavanagh, Iconic Offices; Geraldine Lavin, SFA Skillnet: and Jonny Edgar, Manpower Ireland
David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager, DeCare
INNOVATE OR EXPIRE OVER 300 COMPANIES GATHERED AT THE AVIVA STADIUM ON 2 MAY FOR THE SMALL FIRMS ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL SMART BUSINESS CONFERENCE, WHICH WAS SPONSORED BY VODAFONE, DECARE DENTAL, AN POST, ONE4ALL AND SFA SKILLNET.
The 2019 conference themed ‘Innovate or Expire’ explored the future of work from smart working to dealing with a workforce that consists of five generations. The programme was packed with the latest tools, practical advice and employment trends for small businesses looking to explore how best to adapt to the wave of technology changes that larger organisations are so easily able to exploit. Delegates learnt how artificial intelligence and other smart technologies are changing the workplace from an exciting line-up of speakers, hosted by Gina London, the award-
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SFA Annual Conference 2019 Events
Pictured (L-R): Dr Katherine O’Keeffe, Castlebridge; Bobby Healy, Manna.aero; and Magdalena Targosz, RecommenderX
Gina London, MC, Regina Moran, Enterprise Director, Vodafone and Sue O’Neill, Chair SFA and Managing Director, Shellcove
winning journalist and former CNN anchor. Dr Paul Redmond delivered the morning keynote with a highly engaging talk on the five generation types in the workplace and what the characteristics of each type are: the qualities of the silent type, the Baby Boomer, the Gen X, the Millennial and the Gen Y. He also explored how you can leverage on the different personality traits of each generation to effectively manage each generation type and get the best out of everyone in your business. Dr Redmond talked about how technology is changing the way we think,
behave and interact. He offered humorous insights into the disruptive nature of technology and how businesses can navigate this sea of change. Other discussions focused on whether artificial intelligence is a job changer or job creator, as well as a generational change and the future of work. The headline sponsor Vodafone highlighted smart working and delegates learnt from other small businesses learnt about how they transformed their business models using emerging technologies. At the Smart Business conference, the SFA launched SFA Skillnet, a multi-sector
learning network for small and medium-sized businesses. In consultation with its members, the SFA Skillnet provides a range of subsidised training programmes to facilitate workplace learning. SFA Skillnet will work with business owners and managers to share their best practices on how to respond effectively to the specific skills needs of SMEs. The objective of the network is to improve the competitiveness and productivity of SMEs through training across three core areas: management skills, the talent lifecycle and future skills. The network is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland with matched funding from member companies. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 53
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WE PROVIDE A RUNDOWN ON ALL UPCOMING AND PAST EVENTS RELATING TO SFA AND ITS CONTINUED SUPPORT TO THE SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN IRELAND.
The Business Bytes seminar took place from January to June offering small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. Topics included: ■ How small business can use consumer research and insights ■ Putting the customer at the heart of your business ■ Digital strategy for building meaningful B2B relationships ■ HR and employment law update The series was kindly sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy.
SFA is pleased to announce the return of the National Business Awards that celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland and recognise the vital contribution that the small business community makes to the Irish economy. As the leader in small business awards, the programme attracted over 600 applications in 2019. The programme is recognised as a market leader amongst the small business community and attracts a very high calibre of entries across each category including many companies that apply year after year. PRIZE Media coverage of the programme is extensive with finalists PACKAGE receiving training to ensure these opportunities are capitalised upon. FOR ALL FINALISTS Government support remains very strong, with the programme holding the patronage of An Taoiseach since its inception. Hands down this is one of the best learning and networking events and a great way to ensure publicity for your business. Don’t miss this opportunity to enter and secure a €50,000 prize package that is awarded to all finalists! The awards programme is open to all businesses with under 50 employees regardless of an association with the SFA.
HERE ARE SOME KEY DATES FOR YOUR DIARY: ● Entries will open on 4 September 2019 for six weeks
SAVE THE DATE! Save the date for the SFA Annual Lunch, which will take place on Friday 15 November at The Round Room at The Mansion House, Dublin, and is kindly sponsored by Bank of Ireland. This flagship event for the small business sector brings together the diverse membership of the SFA and is an excellent opportunity for you and your colleagues to meet with peers and show the continuing strength, unity and economic importance of our sector. Keynote speaker David McWilliams
● Finalists announced through PR and press – 5 December 2019 ● Finalists Briefing – 13 December 2019 ● Awards Masterclass Training - 10 and 11 January 2020 ● SFA Business Connect – 6 February 2020 ● Gala awards ceremony – 12 March 2020
Keep an eye on www.sfa.ie/awards for the online application opening to be announced soon. 54 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Build a Website Tips
Oonagh McCutcheon, Customer Operations Manager, IE Domain Registry
e g d e l w o n of k
TOP TIPS ON HOW TO GET AN ACCURATE WEBSITE QUOTE.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Small firms tell us that they have difficulty getting comparable quotes from website developers. The most important thing is to ask each of them for the same thing. To do this, we have created a ‘website development tender’ template as a handy tool to help get comparable quotes. It guides you through the questions you need to ask, the business objectives you need to think about and outlines step-by-step the information you need to provide in a request for tender.
BUILD YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE
A modern, well-designed website must be an essential part of your sales and marketing strategy. Why? 89% of small firms say their website plays an important role in generating new business or sales. In the same vein, 68% believe their website contributes to their offline or face-to-face sales. And 65% of consumers say they would buy more locally if local shops had a click and collect service.
TIME AND COST
Our template includes a timeline and cost outline for the web developer to fill in. This way, when you receive quotes, you will be able to compare the information easily and decide on which web developer best suits your needs. You need to be clear on when you are expecting the website to be completed. It can be useful to give an indicative budget so they have a framework within which they can quote.
Stand out online You want to be noticed online. Therefore, a well-designed
website is crucial. It can help increase your revenue, attract new customers and market your business.
GET THE BRIEFING RIGHT
Provide concise, relevant information about your business to the web developer to ensure you get an accurate quote. You need to be clear on who you are as an organisation – what is your mission? What type of customers you want to attract? What are the outcomes you want from your website – e.g. e-commerce? Click and collect? An increase in visitors? Or to showcase your professional services?
MAINTENANCE AND TRAINING
If you think your staff need training in managing the content on your new site, ask the web developer for this cost. The ability for staff to update the website themselves gives great flexibility to a business. Once the site is live, there will still be work to be done to ensure it is maintained, kept secure from hackers and for the software to be updated.
Handy guides Check out some handy guides available at www.iedr.ie/blog.
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Feature Access to Finance
FINANCIAL EXPERT EOIN CHRISTIAN GIVES THE LOWDOWN ON SOME OF THE BEST WAYS SMALL FIRMS CAN ACCESS FINANCE TO ENSURE CONTINUED GROWTH.
a nation of small businesses, Ireland’s small and micro firms act as the backbone of the Irish economy and the provision of a positive financing environment is key in helping them to remain competitive. Experienced financial services professional Eoin Christian has been involved in the industry since the early 2000s, being the very first employee of leasing and finance solutions company Grenke when they entered the Irish market back in 2004. Since then, Christian has worked his way through the ranks to become Managing Director for Grenke’s Invoice Finance side of the business. The financial industry has seen huge innovations in recent years and Christian believes that technology has been the main driver for change. He states: “When Grenke first entered the Irish market to provide financial advice and support, we were being told things like, ‘Talk to my bank manager,’ by firms, whereas now we are being sent up-to-the-minute financial information for credit assessment and are subsequently providing funding at the click of a button. Quite rightly, there are security and protection measures in place to ensure integrity, but the speed and efficiency small firms now have in accessing real-time funding for their growth, expansion or restructuring is here to stay. In fact, with the advent of the Open Banking initiative at the end of this year, this will only improve.” There is a strong funding environment in Ireland today with more financial providers than ever before and these funders actively want to help and assist small firms. “Many of the funders are small to medium-sized firms themselves, so they know first-hand the challenges and can provide, not just money, but often insight into how best to use this finance,” Christian informs. “In particular, the product expertise of the funders means they can best advise clients, rather than trying to be all things to all people, as with some of the more traditional lenders.” The Government has also worked successfully with the banking sector and alternative finance providers to offer a wide range of supports. “Looking at the level of Government funding available, it’s hard to argue with the access businesses have now through
initiatives like Microfinance Ireland and the many Local Enterprise Offices,” agrees Christian. “It’s also clear that Enterprise Ireland are doing great work in exporting our best and finest out to the world. The SBCI too has been a big help in providing funding at a fair price and we know that they have more loans and guarantee schemes on the way. In particular, and quite topically these days, the Brexit Loan Scheme is another excellent source of funding. Keep in mind as well, that if you are not happy with a decision on funding, you can always appeal it with the Credit Review Office.”
Alternative funding It is crucial that small firms have access to finance to fund their ongoing business operations to enable expansion, and an understanding of which type of funding is best suited helps prevent delays during the application process. More than ever before, there is finance available for every step of a company’s product or service lifecycle. But Christian highlights the importance of knowing where to look. “From seed capital and angel investors, equity investors, asset finance and leasing, right up to invoice finance, which
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Access to Finance Feature
releases cash-flow to your business instead of having to wait for payment terms from your debtors, there is a large amount of support available to your company.” Attempting to navigate the application processes can be hugely advantageous in critically assessing where your company is at, according to Christian. “You mightn’t like the look of the application, or the answer you receive, but at least you know your new baseline to operate from and can now put in
and presenting for follow-on funding. For a small firm to increase its chances of accessing financial backing often boils down to a single issue: security. “Traditional banking products will require the full range of security, including, but not limited to, personal guarantees, all asset debentures, fixed and floating debentures and mortgages,” Christian explains. “Banks tend to be way over-secured for the level of risk it has with the business. By working with a non-bank funder it allows
Eoin Christian, Managing Director, Grenke Invoice Finance
awareness and we are beginning as a group to change the mind-set, but it’s amazing what a small amount of research, a call to a funder or even a trusted advisor can return.” Christian also fires a warning shot for those companies involved with supply chain operations in the age of an impending Brexit. “If there’s a delay in the importing or exporting of goods, materials or products necessary to the day-to-day running of your business, then this will have a knock-on effect in the performance of your business, and subsequent credit scoring when applying for finance.” However, accessing the right type of finance now can help mitigate these risks, therefore keeping your cash flow intact and maintaining strong performance for the future. “Invoice finance is exactly one of these kind of products, along with trade finance and single invoice funding,” adds Christian. “A simple measurement of how effective your current liquidity is would be to perform a test whereby you halve your payment terms to your suppliers and double your terms with your debtors. This is an altogether likely scenario with Brexit and if your cash flow is now being tested, perhaps it’s time to speak with a funder who specialises in working capital solutions.” Finance is the lifeblood of small enterprises in Ireland today and how these organisations access the appropriate finances throughout their life span is vital to economic growth. Christian and Grenke’s goal for 2019
“OFTENTIMES THE MOST INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES HAVE BEEN BORNE OUT OF FIXING A PROBLEM, IN THAT THE IDEA IS A WORKAROUND OR A NEW WAY OF PRODUCTION WITH COST-SAVINGS BEING THE DRIVER.” place financial goals for the future.” He continues: “Don’t be afraid of the financial side of things; in fact, embrace it. Oftentimes the most innovative products and services have been borne out of fixing a problem, in that the idea is a workaround or a new way of production with cost-savings being the driver.” As well as a range of alternative financing options, there is also a need to increase awareness of available funding solutions, while also supporting firms when preparing
you to access further follow-on funding when or if required in the future, as you have other types of security on your books that can be used to balance the risk.” When asked if there are common mistakes small firms make in regard to accessing funding, Christian believes that many are “too reliant on the banks and are loathe to challenge what they’re offering as they are understandably so time-poor”. He adds: “It’s also the non-bank finance sector’s responsibility to educate and create
is to continue to engage with and listen to the small firms of Ireland regarding their working capital funding requirements. Christian notes: “We have local people for local Leasing and Invoice Finance markets all over the country and will continue to expand to make sure we have a strong footprint across all regions. We aim to make access to funding for growth and development more attainable than ever before through our technology platforms and cost-effective pricing.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 57
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YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR SUCCESS Partner with the funding experts who go beyond the numbers Every 46 minutes a new business chooses to partner with Bibby Financial Services. Why? Aside from our global presence and industry expertise, we believe that the best funding solutions come from getting a real understanding of your needs and developing a true partnership together. For a relationship based approach to funding, get in touch with one of our experts.
CALL US ON 01 297 4911
WE BELIEVE IN YOUR BUSINESS
INVOICE FINANCE • EXPORT FINANCE • BAD DEBT PROTECTION • FX
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Access to Finance Partner Profile
AVOIDING THE BOTTLENECKS BIBBY FINANCIAL SERVICES’ MARK O’ROURKE ADVISES HOW TO ACCESS THE BENEFITS OF ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF FUNDING. Despite FDI’s high-profile contribution to the Irish economy, the bedrock of business activity on this island has long been Ireland’s SMEs. Currently, Ireland is home to over 250,000 businesses – with 92% having ten employees or fewer. For these businesses, access to finance is critical not only to ensuring regular cashflow, but also to fuelling future growth and expansion. Unfortunately, many SMEs remain unaware of the range of funding options available to them – and the benefits of looking beyond the major banks. Currently, just over 70% of Irish SMEs are using external finance, with the majority seeking a bank loan or overdraft. However, an overdependence on the main banks can also lead to a funding bottleneck, as more and more businesses are forced to wait for longer to access finance. By contrast, invoice financing and a range of other alternative sources of funding offer significant advantages when compared with turning to the major banks.
goods are dispatched, providing muchneeded funding to bridge the gap between paying suppliers and receiving payment from customers. Alternative funding providers will also often have greater scope to consider both an SME’s current and future needs, take into account a range of factors including debtor payment cycles, international commercial terms and currency fluctuations, and tailor its funding accordingly to find a solution that is right for their business. The benefits of greater flexibility and end-to-end trading solutions can benefit businesses with turnovers from €300,000 upwards; indeed, since 2016 Bibby Financial Services has made over €70m available to Irish businesses through SBCI-backed funding, enabling them to access favourable rates and fulfil their potential. A range of
additional funding sources are also available to those Irish businesses not eligible for SBCI funding, or that are based in Northern Ireland. But until alternative sources of financing are more widely adopted, Irish SMEs will continue to face a lending bottleneck that inhibits their progress and undermines Ireland’s wider economic growth. With a number of economic challenges on the horizon for Irish SMEs – most notably Brexit – those businesses that that have broadened their horizons and understand the range of funding options available to them will be best placed to take full advantage of the benefits of alternative finance. For more information, visit www.bibbyfinancialservices.ie
Speed of access to funds is crucial for any business, and all the more so for those based on forward orders. Alternative funders will typically release financing more quickly, as well as offering in-depth specialist knowledge across a range of sectors. Invoice finance is a simple way to improve a business’s cashflow by giving it quick access to cash tied up in invoices. In this case the funding provider will pay the business up to 90% of the value of the invoice within 24 hours of an invoice being issued to a customer. Similarly, trade finance can be used to pay a business’s suppliers once
Mark O’Rourke, Managing Director, Bibby Financial Services
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Partner Profile Credit Review Office
HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR BUSINESS LOAN? IRISH BANKS ARE CONTINUING TO SELL BUNDLES OF NON-PERFORMING LOANS TO MEET REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS – BUT ARE YOU AWARE OF WHAT NON-PERFORMING MEANS, OR THAT YOUR BUSINESS LOAN(S) COULD BE AFFECTED? The majority of non-performing loan sales are residential mortgages, but they also include SME and farm loans. A loan is classified as non-performing when repayments are more than 90 days past due or the debtor is assessed as ‘unlikely to pay’ in full without realisation of collateral for the loan. However, it is important to know that any connected borrowing must also be taken into account by the bank, and may lead to all of the facilities being considered nonperforming. For instance, if a business owner has a struggling buy-to-let mortgage in a personal capacity, it can result in an otherwise viable business/
www.creditreview.ie www.creditreview.ie www.creditreview.ie
commercial loan or overdraft facility being included in the loan sale. As an owner of a small business, what can you do? Firstly, you know your business best. Ask yourself if there was any period when your business went through a rough patch and you missed payments, or sought help from your bank on existing loans. Perhaps there were a number of breaches of your overdraft conditions, or dishonoured payments or cheques? Also, check who your guarantors are and ensure they are not in difficulty. If you think there are any issues, you need to talk with your bank to find out. Take advantage of your banks
offer of an annual review of facilities (which banks must make under the SME banking regulations). If assessed as nonperforming, arrange a formal meeting with your bank to agree what is required to return the lending to ‘performing status’. This will be in the best interest of both you and the bank. Contact the Credit Review Office in good time before meeting the bank to ensure that you are fully informed on the credit management issues relevant to your situation. For more information, visit www.creditreview.ie or Lo-call 1850 2117 89
Ask The Credit Review Ask The Credit Review Ask The Credit Review look at the decision. look at the decision. If your business has had credit facilities refused, reduced look athasbank*, the decision. your business had we’re credithere facilities orIfwithdrawn by your to help.refused,If reduced you’re a
or withdrawn by your bank*, we’re here to help. If you’re a If your business has had credit facilities refused, reduced getting credit or loan facilities of up to €3,000,000, or has had an or withdrawn by your bank*, we’re here to help. If you’re a getting creditchange or loantofacilities of up to €3,000,000, or conditions, has had an unfavourable your existing credit terms and unfavourable change to your existing credit terms Our and process conditions, get in touch with us for an independent review. is getting credit or loan facilities of up to €3,000,000, or has had an get in toucheasy withtouscomplete for an independent review. Our process is independent, and covers all applications for new unfavourable change to your existing credit terms and conditions, independent, easy to complete and covers all applications for new loans or restructured credit facilities. get in touch with us for an independent review. Our process is loans or restructured credit facilities. independent, easy complete *banks covered are AIB, BOI,to PTSB and Ulsterand covers all applications for new *banksor covered are AIB, BOI, PTSB and Ulster loans restructured credit facilities. *banks covered are AIB, BOI, PTSB and Ulster
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National Standards Authority of Ireland Partner Profile
UNIVERSALLY SPEAKING A NEW DESIGN STANDARD TO ENABLE ORGANISATIONS BRING THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO A WIDER AUDIENCE HAS BEEN LAUNCHED BY THE NATIONAL STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF IRELAND (NSAI) AND THE NATIONAL DISABILITY AUTHORITY (NDA). This new Universal Design process standard aims to help organisations use a consistent approach in addressing the accessibility and usability of its products and services. It is for all organisations that want to extend their range of users and is the first ever European Standard on Design for all (UD). The standard was developed by the European Standards Joint Technical Committee (CEN/CLC/JTC 12), which was chaired by Mr James Hubbard at the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in the NDA. The NSAI’s National Mirror Committee also contributed to this important standard. Along with the business benefits of using the approach in this standard, it can also help organisations to address their related statutory obligations. The standard can be useful for organisations to comply with the newly adopted European Accessibility Act and it can help ensure the application of the Universal Design approach as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which helps ensure that all designs are easy to access, understand and use, as a human right. The standard specifies requirements and recommendations that enables an organisation to extend their range of users by: identifying diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences, by directly or indirectly involving users; and by using knowledge about accessibility in its procedures and processes. I.S EN 17161 has a familiar structure to management systems process standards such as ISO 9001. That makes it easier to use a Universal Design (Design for All) Approach at all levels of
Pictured (L-R): NSAI Chairman James Kennedy, NDA Chairperson Helen Guinan, NSAI Technical Standards Officer Elizabeth O’Ferrall and NDA Senior Design Advisor, James Hubbard
an organisation to continuously improve and manage the accessibility of the products and services that they provide. The standard set outs requirements to assist an organisation in meeting its statutory and regulatory requirements in terms of accessibility to its products, goods and services. “The requirements set out in the standard are intended to be applicable to all organisations, regardless of type, size who manufacture or provide products and services, “ said Geraldine Larkin, NSAI Chief Executive. “NSAI wants to ensure that products placed on the market or services offered, are of the highest standard and are available to the widest range of users possible.” James Hubbard, from the NDA’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, who chaired the technical committee
for this standard commented: “As we work together toward achieving a more equitable society, it has been a privilege to have participated in standardising an approach that advances accessibility and usability for all, to better inform our decisions, on the world we design.” Workshops and seminars are being planned to introduce the standard. Interested parties and key stakeholders are exploring the use of the new standard to demonstrate conformance with a best practice approach to ensuring accessibility and usability in their organisations. The standard will be available on www.standards.ie shortly. In the interim, if you would like a copy, please contact our NSAI Standards team on 01 857 6730 or email email@example.com
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GET BREXIT READY REAPING THE BENEFITS 2,700 +
INDIVIDUALS PARTICIPATED IN TRAINING
UNIQUE PAGEVIEWS OF ONLINE SUPPORTS
BREXIT RESPONSE PROGRAMME 2019 Brexit Mentor Panel
International Sales Optimisation Scheme
Get China Ready Programme Competitiveness and Value for Money
Market Diversification Programme GB and NI Retention and Growth
Research and Insights
Brexit Readiness Check
ACT NOW...Take the Brexit Readiness Check Today! ✔ It is free
Online Knowledge Hub
✔ It takes less than 10 minutes ✔ No financial information required ✔ You receive a customised business report delivered immediately to your email.
If you have any queries or would like further information please contact: 1800 242 473
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Fáilte Ireland Partner Profile
A RESPONSE TO BREXIT HELEN MCDAID, MANAGER, ENTERPRISE AND HOSPITALITY SUPPORTS AT FÁILTE IRELAND DISCUSSES SOME OF THE SUPPORTS AVAILABLE TO SMALL IRISH FIRMS. As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland’s role is to support the tourism industry and work to sustain Ireland as a high-quality and competitive tourism destination. Small businesses are very much at the heart of the Irish tourism industry, particularly outside of traditional hotspots and are central to Fáilte Ireland’s strategy to spread visitors across the country and grow business in the off-season months. While it is still difficult to quantify the range and scope of impacts that Brexit will have on the tourism industry, Fáilte Ireland research has shown that it is the
Helen McDaid, Manager, Enterprise and Hospitality Supports at Fáilte Ireland
number one concern amongst businesses, particularly those in the northern counties. The latest figures show that Brexit is the top concern for seven out of ten businesses. This figure rises to 80% for accommodation providers in northern counties and 90% in the restaurant sector, both of which reported a decline in their business from the UK last year. Our key message for all businesses is to ‘prepare and diversify’ and Fáilte Ireland’s Enterprise and Hospitality Development Unit works closely with tourism businesses to support the development of a ‘world class industry’
in the face of challenges on the horizon for the sector in light of Brexit.
Practical supports In response to changing market conditions, Fáilte Ireland has developed a series of initiatives to build capabilities within the tourism industry. To date, we have engaged with over 2,700 businesses and 7,800 industry members across the country on a range of business supports. Our 2019 Brexit Response Programme builds on the supports delivered in 2018 and is designed to help businesses to assess risks, respond to changes, improve their channel mix and diversify into other markets. The first step for any business looking to prepare for Brexit is to complete the Fáilte Ireland Brexit Readiness Check – it takes less than ten minutes to complete and provides a really useful report that tells you just how ‘Brexit ready’ you are. More than that, it also provides practical advice on what businesses can do to further prepare for Brexit and outlines what Fáilte Ireland supports can help them. Fáilte Ireland also runs a number of development programmes that offer insights and expertise from top tourism specialists in the areas of international sales, business performance and competitiveness, giving tourism businesses practical advice they can use to adapt and prepare for Brexit. Fáilte Ireland also provides businesses with useful research, market insights, templates and check lists they can use to develop their strategy and improve their capabilities. Find out more about the supports on offer on www.failteireland.ie
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Partner Feature Ask the Expert
IN THIS EXCITING NEW REGULAR FEATURE WE’LL PROVIDE VALUABLE INSIGHTS THAT DIRECTLY RELATE TO GROWING YOUR FIRM ACROSS SPECIFIC AREAS OF BUSINESS.
y providing advice and offering valuable insights, a community of experts can help facilitate an exceptional array of information and services ideal for any firm to prosper. We all know that being a business owner can be difficult. Starting off is the easy part; managing the process over a long time is a different challenge. There’s a plethora of potential hurdles to navigate and a lot of problems to be contended with. These challenges can become overwhelming without the correct guidance along the path to success. It’s natural for small businesses to have questions on how to navigate the various aspects of the business journey – knowing which challenges to expect makes for a better prepared leader when the time comes to facing obstacles. Whether you’re looking for investment, access to finance, or focusing on recruitment and up-skilling staff, making your business stand out in an authentic way is vital across all sectors in the modern business landscape. That’s why we’ve compiled a community of credible experts with specific knowledge and experience to help small firms obtain the appropriate information to drive innovation, while also avoiding some of the most-common mistakes.
Staying competitive Ask the Expert focuses on proving our national business readers with crucial mentorship and advice for their businesses through guidance from a cohort of cross-sectoral industry experts. Over the following pages we’ll provide practical recommendations on how to grow your business with leading entrepreneur training essential for small businesses to stay competitive. In this issue, you’ll discover suggestions on how to manage a sound and accomplished financial plan, tips for running a smooth internal payroll system, while a payments expert is on hand to explain the steps small businesses need to take to deter fraud. Furthermore, an insurance expert outlines the benefits of using a supporting broker for the most comprehensive insurance offering, we review the importance of getting corporate events just right for both team building and strong client relationships and we highlight why firms should embrace technology in their dayto-day operations to drive success and transform business travel.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Fionan Dunne, CFO Services
Carman Devlin, O’Leary Insurance Group
Jennifer O’Neill, Mazars
Ruth McCarthy, Fexco Corporate Payments
René Frion, Kildare Village
Ailish O’Donnell, Free Now Business
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Ask the Expert
ï€© Partner Feature
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Taking Care of Your Business CFO Services provide our clients with a strategic finance function on an outsourced basis. We tailor our delivery to suit the specific requirements of each client. We provide strategic finance and tax advice as well as affordable management accounting expertise to our clients who are primarily, though not exclusively, in the SME sector. We allow you to focus on what you do best, enabling you to achieve your strategic objectives, while we look after your core finance function needs. If you want someone to help you to see beyond the numbers…We’d love to hear from you.
CFO Services, 3 Ely Place Upper (Basement), Dublin 2 Tel: 01 661 9631 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Web: www.cfoservices.ie Social icon
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Rounded square Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines.
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CFO Services Partner Profile
EXPERT CFO SERVICES MANAGING DIRECTOR FIONAN DUNNE ADVISES SMES HOW TO CREATE AND IMPLEMENT A SOUND AND ACCOMPLISHED FINANCIAL PLAN. WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON CHALLENGE FOR ENTREPRENEURS? “Probably the one I see most is entrepreneurs expecting funding to close more quickly than it actually does. I always advise promoters to double or triple the time they think it will take to raise funds because, as we all know, cash is king and without it you’re trying to run a business on an empty tank.”
HOW CAN SMALL FIRMS BEST PLAN FOR THE FUTURE? “Only a fool would predict where the economy will be in one year, let alone five. You can’t control that. However, what you must do is plan. If you don’t have a plan for your business, you’re going to struggle. Once you have a plan - parse it, challenge it and draft in help if necessary. Then you can move forward, confident you’re headed in the right direction.”
Fionan Dunne, Managing Director, CFO Services
It’s often said the best way to learn something is to teach it. That’s been Fionan Dunne’s experience with the mentoring sessions he provides through the NDRC accelerator programme. Dunne, whose ‘day job’ is Managing Director of CFO Services, a business advisory company based in Dublin 2, says he is constantly impressed by the spirit of the entrepreneurs he meets. “My role is to assist them to prepare a financial plan that underpins their strategy so they can attract external investment.” Dunne can see where some of these firms could be ten years down the road. “In CFO Services we have seen companies grow from startups to become household names. We have helped clients with their core finance functions, raising seed and series A funding, as well as assisting promoters with their eventual exit from the business. It’s incredibly satisfying to partner with these companies – their enthusiasm is contagious.” When not mentoring, Dunne and his team are advising SMEs and early-stage companies with strategic finance and tax strategies, as well as looking after their day-to-day financial operations. “We want our business owners and managers to focus on running their business – they know it best after all. We see ourselves very much as partners – the better our clients do, the better we do – it’s a symbiotic relationship.” He notes how finance functions have changed over the past 20 years. “Clients want flexibility, now they require expertise only as and when it’s needed.” Accountants and business advisors have had to move with the times. He cites cloud accounting as being a gamechanger. “Smaller businesses can stay connected with their data and their advisors, and the virtual finance director or external CFO has become a real possibility for smaller companies who previously couldn’t afford that expertise.” He admits being old-fashioned in the sense that “nothing beats a face-to-face conversation, where the trusted advisor can really get under the bonnet of a business, spot any issues coming down the track, and plan for contingencies.”
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O’Leary Insurances are a wholly owned, family run, independent insurance brokers operating in accordance with Brokers Ireland and The Central Bank. The O’Leary Insurance Group provides a nation-wide service and employs in excess of 220 people and specializes in all classes of Corporate and Private Insurances. The Company conducts business according to the highest professional standards of customer service and care.
We welcome all SFA Members to contact our office to discuss their Insurance requirements Contact Carman Devlin; Phone: 01 660 8211 Fax: 01 660 8349 E-mail: email@example.com O’Leary Insurances (Dublin) Ltd., 16 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4
O’Leary Insurances (Dublin) Ltd. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland
Save money on banking, utility bills, insurance, digital marketing, merchant services and more with our new SFA Affinity scheme
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O’Leary Insurance Group Partner Profile
EXPERT O’LEARY INSURANCE GROUP CARMAN DEVLIN OUTLINES THE BENEFITS OF A SUPPORTING BROKER FOCUSED ON ACCESSING THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE INSURANCE OFFERING. WHAT IS A COMMON MISTAKE SMALL FIRMS MAKE? “What we find is that firms can tend to focus on the physical assets of their companies, e.g. buildings and vehicles, but they forget about equally important risks such as protecting their balance sheet, cybercrime, etc. It is vital to consider the full range of risks that your company faces everyday.”
WHAT IS YOUR TOP TIP? “Approach your insurance renewal process as if you’re applying for a tender to secure some new business, i.e. put your best foot forward! Give your broker quality information with plenty of time to allow them present your business in the most positive and comprehensive format possible to the Insurance Market. If we’re given the right tools, we can understand the risks that go hand-in-hand with the business, and then go to market and find a competitive range of quotations.”
Carman Devlin, Director, O’Leary Insurance Group
With over 230 employees operating across eight locations nationwide, O'Leary Insurances specialises in insurance broking and risk management services to all sectors of the Irish economy. The company is known for its strong emphasis on professionalism and personal attention through all of its products. “It’s everything in our business,” says Director Carman Devlin. “If we miss something we’re putting somebody’s livelihood on the line, so attention to detail is crucial. As a broker, we sit between the insurer and the client, so we have to understand our clients’ business to identify the risks and source the appropriate insurance solutions.” O’Leary Insurances acts as a business advisor, as much as a broker, according to Carman. “Small firms need that guidance, a helping hand in terms to navigate the potential pitfalls,” she explains. “We’ll help to identify what the key risks are as we really dig deep to understand their business.” Early engagement is key for small firms when attempting to manage their insurance overhead. “The best results are achieved with insurers in the market when the broker is operating with the longest lead time possible,” advises Carman. “Take the steps to engage with your broker and give them the necessary detailed information. We’re there as brokers to guide the customer through the process; our client is the policyholder and we’re acting in their best interests, rather than the insurers.” Carman highlights cybercrime as one major emerging risk for small firms to be aware of. “Just about every business faces day-to-day cyber and data risks” she states. “The probability of suffering a loss as a result of the IT system being compromised is much higher than say a physical break in or fire and companies should act now, as it’s relatively inexpensive to get cyber liability insurance cover.” O’Leary Insurances has acted as the broker to the Small Firms Association for over 25 years now and the Company has just relaunched the SFA members insurance scheme. Carman concludes: “We have discounts available for SFA members, so get in touch and we’ll get you covered with a full range of products to suit your business.” O’Leary Insurances (Dublin) Ltd is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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Working life is tough enough without the burden of administration or complying with ever changing legislation. Mazars has the experience to make your working life easier and more profitable. Our Payroll Outsourcing team provide the knowledge, expertise, technical skills, and hands-on service to help your organisation meet the challenges associated with running and ensuring compliance.
CONTACT Mairéad Divilly, Outsourcing Partner Tel: 01 4494426 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jennifer O’Neill, Outsourcing Director Tel: 01 4496441 Email: email@example.com
Dublin • Galway • Limerick
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Mazars Partner Profile
Jennifer O’Neill, Director, Mazars
MAZARS IS YOUR INTERNAL PAYROLL RUNNING AS SMOOTHLY AS YOU THINK? MAZARS DIRECTOR JENNIFER O’NEILL ADVISES SMALL FIRMS TO OUTSOURCE. WHAT CHALLENGES ARE AHEAD FOR PAYROLL COMPLIANCE? “Gender pay gap reporting is due to be enacted into Irish law by the end of 2019. Publication of differences in pay by reference to job classification will be required and will initially be applicable to employers with more than 250 employees. Mazars are now supporting clients through our outsourced payroll devision to facilitate the calculation required.”
WHAT’S THE MOST COMMON ERROR IDENTIFIED DURING PAYROLL AUDIT REVIEWS? “The most common error we find in owner/managed businesses is the incorrect application of PRSI. On a payroll review carried out by our team, we identified a significant overpayment of employers PRSI over many years. Unfortunately, the company was only allowed to reclaim four years overpayment due to time restrictions under law.”
Pay As You Earn (PAYE) came into Ireland in the 1960s. The changes in the payroll system since its introduction and the other challenges that come with it have made it a critical part of any business to ensure it is calculated accurately. There is a perception that the payroll software can calculate the payroll by simply entering the changes each month into the system. With my many years of experience working on payrolls, doing onsite payroll reviews, payroll audits, and implementing payrolls, I can assure you that this is not the case.
Payroll has changed in so many ways over the years. 2009 saw the introduction of the income levy to what was subsequently replaced in 2011 with the Universal Social Charge. Revenue also abolished the relief from PRSI on pensions deductions. Employers now have to tax and report share award gains through the payroll. For our public-sector payrolls, they had the introduction of the Pension Related Deduction (PRD) in 2009 to be replaced in 2019 with the Additional Superannuation Contribution (ASC). As payroll taxation is continuously changing and there are new taxes and reporting obligations, it's vital to have trained payroll professionals preparing the payroll. They need to keep up-to-date with the revenue changes and update the system accordingly. Therefore, many companies have requested us to undertake payroll reviews and audit their internal payroll processes and procedures.
For those who are using the outsourced payroll model, they have the security of the outsourced firm who is responsible for the changes in legislation being applied to their payroll. Within Mazars, we ensure that all staff are trained by the Irish Payroll Association (IPASS), and we keep up-to-date with legislative payroll changes. We have the added value of our own personal and global mobility tax team to support clients with payroll taxes both in Ireland and other jurisdictions across the world.
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Be Sure with Fexco Corporate Payments A leading provider of bespoke payment solutions to minimise risk and maximise efficiencyÂ in international payment processes. To discuss how Fexco can save your business time and money, contact Billy Farrell, National Sales Manager today:
M: 087 9077714 E: BFarrell@fexco.com
T: 1800 246 800 (office) E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fexco Corporate Payments Partner Profile
EXPERT FEXCO CORPORATE PAYMENTS CEO RUTH MCCARTHY EXPLAINS WHY IT IS VITAL THAT SMALL BUSINESSES TAKE STEPS TO DETER FRAUD. WHAT CONDITIONS THAT ALLOW FRAUD TO TAKE HOLD? • Employees perform multiple functions, allowing them to hide their actions. • Staff become too familiar and trusting with each other. • Informal procedures mean things don’t get recorded. • Lack of expertise amongst staff to recognise fraud.
HOW DOES FEXCO CORPORATE PAYMENTS STREAMLINE THE PROCESS FOR SMALL FIRMS? Fexco aims to make international money transfer easy for SMEs by empowering businesses to make global payments swiftly at pre-defined rates and with transparent pricing. Its online platform, PayDirect, offers a rich user interface that provides SMEfocused tools, reports and functionality to support existing processes/workflows.
Ruth McCarthy, CEO, Fexco Corporate Payments
Cyber security must be an integral consideration of business strategy. As well as mitigating against financial loss, business improvements can be made by increasing efficiency and managing risk by placing a priority on being cyber-attack ready. Almost €4.5m has been stolen in invoice redirect frauds since the start of 2019, according to An Garda Síochána. Criminals send emails to businesses purporting to be one of their legitimate suppliers with the supplier's new bank account details and a request to change the account to one that will ultimately benefit the criminals. We at Fexco recommend to make a phone call to a known contact within the company that appears to be requesting the change in account payment, and to also instruct staff with responsibility for paying invoices to check invoices for irregularities and escalate suspicions using a known contact. Manual processes with paper often lead to a rise in internal fraud. Business executives and managers must have sufficient controls over the movement of funds to determine without question which individual employee authorised specific transactions and funds transfer. Fexco’s system uses two-factor authentication to access the online platform and Fexco can route payments for viewing and approval with multi-layer thresholds for the ultimate in security measures, auditing and control. Fexco integrates with all major ERP and accounts systems. Once an electronic payment file has been submitted to the bank and accepted, all payments can be reconciled in your system. Banks across Europe earn hundreds of millions of euro a year from overcharging small corporate customers for foreign exchange services, according to a new paper from the European Central Bank. Smaller corporate clients tend to pay higher rates for protection against swings in exchange rates. The findings of the study revealed that banks collect an extra €638m a year on average as a result of discriminatory pricing in eurodollar contracts. The majority of corporate clients pay some 50 basis points – or 0.5% – on contracts on which the largest companies pay just two basis points. This is just another case of banks underserving and overcharging small businesses. Lack of transparency on FX is bad for Irish businesses.
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ar n i d r traoâ„˘ x E in g r y D a y h t e S o m Ev e
Experience unique five-star events at Kildare Village Kildare Village invites you to create unique luxury events in our beautiful retail Village for your most valued clients. With a dedicated private apartment, we can help you host an extraordinary event with gourmet catering, personal stylists and exclusive brand offers. To find out more and arrange a tour please contact: CorporateKV@ValueRetail.com
ÂŠ Kildare Village 2019 07/19
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Kildare Village Partner Profile
René Frion, Business Director, Kildare Village
KILDARE VILLAGE BUSINESS DIRECTOR AT KILDARE VILLAGE, RENÉ FRION, ON HOW KILDARE VILLAGE IS UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO DELIVER A FIVE-STAR EVENT EXPERIENCE. HOW IMPORTANT ARE CORPORATE EVENTS TO BUILD CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS? “Corporate events are of particular importance to companies that may not have a strong physical presence. Such companies are not often presented with opportunities to meet with their customers and clients face-to-face. Online businesses, in particular, can benefit significantly from showing a more human side to their business.”
WHAT IS YOUR TOP TIP FOR SMALL FIRMS LOOKING TO UTILISE AN EVENT TO ENHANCE CLIENT AND EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIPS?
“Take the opportunity to be present at your event. Kildare Village will ensure that all the details and touch-points are looked after, but if you are not there to meet and interact with your guests, you are missing a key opportunity to further build your relationships and brand.”
Why is Kildare Village a great place as a destination for such an event? In today’s crowded marketplace, companies are increasingly looking to offer their customers something a little bit different when it comes to membership and loyalty events. With customer satisfaction ratings that are second-to-none and a pristine environment in which to entertain, Kildare Village has set itself apart as a partner that can be trusted with a most precious asset, your customer. Typically, event packages are bespoke. We work with companies and agencies alike to create an event offering that is unique and relevant to their audience. Partnering brands generally look to include an elevated service offering, such as exclusive access to our private apartment and gourmet catering, before adding themed experiential elements, such as family entertainment. As a flagship retail destination with over 100 premium and luxury brands, shopping and access to brand demonstrations, style sessions and masterclasses are a key part of any event. At the most basic level, guests visiting Kildare Village love to experience VIP treatment and companies and brands are eager to be associated with that feel-good factor. Local, national and international companies have joined the growing list of organisations that are building a schedule of annual events around the Kildare Village commercial and experiential calendar. Where a partner has their own loyalty programme, an interesting hook can be to ‘boost’ points and rewards available during the event. This has been used to great effect, for example, by airline partners who can offer bonus air miles linked to purchases made in Village. Kildare Village also has a standalone reward platform that allows partners to provide exclusive treats to their customers over the course of an event. Maintained year-round to the highest of standards, Kildare Village offers a truly unique venue for corporate entertainment. From team building days for staff to large-scale customer marketing events, the ability to cater to groups of all sizes sets Kildare Village apart as one of the few venues capable of delivering a five-star service to dozens, or thousands, of guests over the course of an event.
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Partner Profile Free Now Business
Ailish O’Donnell, Senior Sales and Partnerships Manager, Free Now
EXPERT FREE NOW BUSINESS
In an ever-changing digital landscape there can be a lot of noise around embracing technology in your business – this can be quite daunting for small firms as cost and resources can be limited. However, there are ways in which you can champion technology to your benefit in everyday operations that save you money and reduce time wasted, allowing you to focus on what's actually important to your business. I advise business owners and small firms to actively seek out tools and applications that can help your organisation improve operational challenges. While this isn’t going to revolve around the core of what you do – it will drive results for your business overall. Business travel is a key component of staying connected and growing your business. The implications of inefficiency and dated manual processes associated with this are so often overlooked – as business travel is not typically a focal point in measuring efficiency but still can have a significant impact. Organising taxis, waiting time, keeping track of travel expenses and reporting consumes valuable time, eventually affecting the bottom line. There are options available to completely automate this seamlessly, at no additional cost. Formerly known as mytaxi Business, Free Now Business is not only about getting people from A to B but also, the freedom to travel for business without any limitations. Free Now is remodeling European mobility, offering freedom of movement to upgrade your experience. Our dynamic taxi solutions make business travel more efficient, transparent and stress-free in over 100 cities. As Europe’s first taxi app, we have revolutionised urban mobility by reducing wait times, increasing service levels and providing a fully transparent booking system. We help small business owners and SMEs access free innovative solutions to manage ground transportation seamlessly: from booking and travelling to online reporting and expensing. Helping organisations and business owners overcome apprehensions and embrace technology to their short-term and long-term advantage. Key message: don't get left behind. Aiming to inspire clients to move away from more conventional models and to resist falling victim to the, ‘But we've always done it that way,” mindset. The taxi industry is renowned for being a more traditional industry; yet, the introduction of the app and reporting automation has transformed business travel in Ireland forever.
AILISH O’DONNELL ADVISES SMALL FIRMS TO EMBRACE FREE TECHNOLOGIES IN DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS TO DRIVE SUCCESS AND TRANSFORM BUSINESS TRAVEL FOREVER. HOW SHOULD FIRMS USE DIGITAL MOBILITY SERVICES? "For small firms, we understand that business can be stressful enough and our aim is to make it easier by taking the hassle associated with travel out of the equation. Our business account option is free and has a variety of reporting tools – we’re making expenses easier for everyone involved."
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS TRAVEL? "The rapid innovation of all things ‘on-demand’ will continue, alongside the development of personalised services. Cognitive-first applications are focusing on augmenting travel and expense experiences through emerging technologies like AI. Trial digital platforms – what may seem complex, can often completely streamline a dated process effortlessly."
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DeCare Dental ď€Š Partner Profile
ENABLING HEALTHY ACTION DAVID CASEY REPORTS ON HOW THE OFFICE IS THE IDEAL SPACE IN WHICH TO TACKLE OBESITY. A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025 defines the workplace as a sector with a leadership role that can help with the prevention and management of obesity. Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. One in two adults and one in six children are overweight or obese in OECD countries. In Ireland, 36% of adults have a normal weight, 39% are overweight and 23% are obese. The Healthy Ireland Survey from 2017 showed that actions to lose weight were mainly focused on doing more exercise (68%), followed by eating less calories (56%). It showed that 45% of those overweight or obese are not taking any action to address excess weight. Individual responsibility is important, but insufficient in tackling obesity on its own. The workplace is and has been defined as an optimum place for creating a supportive environment to help tackle obesity in Ireland. The workplace can help empower people to be healthier through a wide range of strategies that enable healthy action which goes further than providing guidance on what actions to take. Looking at personal skills, this includes education and the provision of information. Workplaces can include interventions and activities, such as promoting the Irish Food Pyramid, cookery classes, weight management courses and dietetic referrals. Workplaces can help an employee develop personal skills, as it is an important component of any response to obesity, but not the only solution. A key goal for companies for any health and wellbeing intervention is to try and make the healthier choice the easy choice. An example includes Food Choice at Work, which is an
evidence-based programme to improve the workplace food environment. Workplaces can work on healthy eating policies that promote healthy eating for lunches, meetings and events. Obesity is a key risk factor for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis and may impact on mental health. High-sugar foods can also link to poor dental health. Obesity and being overweight are conditions which develop over a number of years in both children and adults. The determinants are multiple and include the environment, access to healthy and affordable food, physical activity, exercise and leisure activity, cultural and societal norms, education and skill levels, genetic makeup, and lifestyle choices. While it can be uncomfortable to consider talking to employees about topics such as obesity, with a well-rounded wellness strategy in the workplace, these conversations can form part of everyday office life. Wellness initiatives can boost
David Casey, Wellness & Health Promotion Manager, DeCare Dental
morale, productivity and performance at work â€“ so why not consider implementing one today? DeCare offer a range of wellness trainings, clinics and wellbeing workshops. DeCare Dental is proud and committed to playing a critical role in this development as the only dedicated dental and wellness specialist provider in Ireland. For further information visit www.decaredental.ie
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Health Animal Health
It is important to ensure that a dog’s exercise is timed for the cooler parts of the day, especially for larger dogs or those with thicker coats. The overall age and health of your dog should also be considered when exercising, as any existing condition can be exacerbated by the summer environment, especially for those dogs with any heart, kidney or breathing problems. Dogs especially can encounter problems even when not exercising, and it is essential to provide plenty of fresh water, cool shade and adequate ventilation for your dog, whatever it is doing.
VETERINARY IRELAND’S PETER BISHTON ADVISES HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR COMPANION ANIMAL THIS SUMMER.
While human health professionals are advising us to cover up, wear hats and apply factor 50 sunscreen, one should also consider the companion animals in the family, and how they must be protected from the heat and sun. Unlike humans, dogs are unable to sweat through the skin, but cool down through panting. Panting is not as efficient as sweating and so dogs can find it difficult to cool down as quickly as humans when it is hot. Flat-faced breeds are specifically at-risk during summer months as selective breeding has created respiratory problems in many of these breeds, making it harder for them to breathe normally, let alone be able to pant in hot weather. On hot days, the temptation may also be for your dog to cool down by taking a splash in a river, lake or pond. Before letting your dog just jump in, please check the water. Where algae is growing in the water or is visible on the shoreline, there may be an increased risk to your dog of algae poisoning – algae can produce toxins which may be lethal. Should your dog swallow any algae, then please consult your vet immediately.
While most people would know that keeping a dog in the car during a hot spell can be deadly, it is equally important to ensure that any accommodation, such as a bedroom, kitchen, or especially a glazed conservatory, is kept at a comfortable temperature for your dog or cat. Shade is critically important, as dogs and cats can also suffer from sunburn. Ears, noses, paw pads and areas where the fur is thinner, such as on the stomach, can all get burnt in the summer sun. There are sun protection products available – speak to your vet for the best product for your companion animal.
By virtue of design and materials used, pet bird aviaries, rabbit hutches and runs are also very susceptible to overheating, and it is critical that such accommodation has plenty of water and ventilation at all times and isn’t located in direct sunlight. As well as taking the above precautions, owners should always look out for the signs of heatstroke (excessive panting or shortness of breath, inability to sit still, or being unsteady on their feet). If any of these symptoms are apparent, move your companion animal to a shaded spot, give it fresh water (not too cold) and call your vet immediately for advice. For any aspect of care for your companion animal, at any time of year, your vet is the best person to contact with any questions or to seek specific advice. Keep the veterinary practice’s number in your mobile and do not hesitate to call. Here is to a happy, enjoyable and healthy summer for all, human and companion animal alike. For more information, visit www.veterinaryireland.ie.
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Irish Law Awards Events
THE LAW OF THE LAND LEGAL PROFESSIONALS CONTINUE TO RAISE THE BAR AT THE 2019 TRAVELERS IRISH LAW AWARDS.
John O’Donoghue, Philip Lee Solicitors
LIST OF 2019 WINNERS
Law Firm of the Year
(sponsored by Travelers):
Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by RSM):
THE HON. MS. JUSTICE CATHERINE MCGUINNESS
Special Merit Award: CIAN O’CARROLL Corporate/Commercial Law Team/ Lawyer of the Year
Excellence & Innovation in Client Service Munster: JRAP O’MEARA Excellence & Innovation in Client Services Connacht/Ulster: O’DONNELL MCKENNA
Legal Executive of the Year: DEIRDRE O’DONOVAN, MCCARTHY + CO.
Leinster Law Firm of the Year: POE KIELY HOGAN LANIGAN SOLICITORS
Connacht/Ulster & Munster Family Law Firm/Team/Lawyer of the Year: MACSWEENEY & COMPANY
Diversity & Inclusion Law Firm of the Year: MCMAHON & WILLIAMS SOLICITORS
Dublin Family Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: KEITH WALSH SOLICITORS
Employment Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year
Leinster Family Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: DEIRDRE BURKE, BURKE LEGAL
Excellence & Innovation in Client Service
(sponsored by Ormond Meeting Rooms):
Excellence & Innovation in Client Service Dublin: TRACEY SOLICITORS Excellence & Innovation in Client Service Leinster: JOHN A. SINNOTT & CO SOLICITORS
Connacht/Ulster Law Firm of the Year: MACSWEENEY & COMPANY
(sponsored by Travelers)
Dublin Law Firm of the Year: REDDY CHARLTON SOLICITORS
Criminal Law Firm/ Lawyer of the Year: MICHAEL J. STAINES & COMPANY
Leinster (incl. Dublin) Employment Law Firm/Team/Lawyer of the Year: ANNE O’CONNELL SOLICITORS
Law School of the Year: SCHOOL OF LAW, NUI GALWAY
RICHARD GROGAN & ASSOCIATES SOLICITORS
(sponsored by Bloomsbury Professional):
(sponsored by Financial Times):
Connacht/Ulster & Munster Employment Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: ALASTAIR PURDY & CO SOLICITORS
Law Firm of the Year (Regional Recipients)
Law Student of the Year
(sponsored by Courtsdesk):
ANNE O’CONNELL SOLICITORS
(sponsored by Practice Evolve):
Law Firm Innovation Award
Excellence in Marketing & Communications
Family Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: DEIRDRE BURKE, BURKE LEGAL
(sponsored by Sunday Business Post):
ver 100 Irish law firms, legal practitioners and in-house legal teams descended upon the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road for the eighth annual black tie gala Travelers Irish Law Awards. Hosted by Newstalk’s Ivan Yates, the awards set out to identify, commend and honour excellence and achievement in Irish Law. The awards showcase the best of Irish law firms, legal practitioners and in-house legal teams throughout the four provinces of Ireland. Law Firm of the Year, sponsored by Travelers, was awarded to Philip Lee, one of Ireland’s leading and fastest growing commercial law firms which also has offices in London, San Francisco and Brussels. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by RSM, was presented to The Hon. Ms. Justice Catherine McGuinness in recognition of her remarkable contribution to the legal profession in Ireland over the last 40 years. Cashel solicitor Cian O’Carroll won the Special Merit Award for his unrelenting quest for the rights of women negatively affected by cervical cancer misdiagnoses.
In-House (Non-Civil Service/Public Sector) Legal Team/Lawyer of the Year: RACHEL CURRAN, ULSTER BANK Lawyer of the Year: SINEAD LUCEY, FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES (FLAC) Connacht/Ulster Lawyer of the Year: DAVITT GERAGHTY, GERAGHTY & CO., SOLICITORS Dublin Lawyer of The Year: SINEAD LUCEY, FREE LEGAL ADVICE CENTRES (FLAC) Leinster Lawyer of the Year: ALVARO BLASCO, BLASCO SOLICITORS Munster Lawyer of the Year: THOMAS DOWLING, HOGAN DOWLING MCNAMARA
O’BRIEN O’REILLY, UCD
Personal Injury/Medical Negligence Law Firm/Team/Lawyer of the Year (sponsored by MedLaw):
ORPEN FRANKS SOLICITORS (MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE DEPARTMENT) Pro Bono/Community Law Firm/ Lawyer of the Year: PUBLIC INTEREST LAW ALLIANCE (PILA) Public Sector In-House Legal Team/ Lawyer of the Year: ESB LEGAL DEPARTMENT Service Provider to the Legal Profession: LEGAL SOFTWARE Sole Practitioner of the Year (sponsored by LEAP):
BERNADETTE BARRY, BERNADETTE BARRY & CO
Sole Principal of the Year (sponsored by LEAP):
SUSAN COSGROVE, COSGROVE GAYNARD SOLICITORS
Munster Law Firm of the Year: KEATING CONNOLLY SELLORS SOLICITORS Litigation Law Firm/ Lawyer of the Year: CIARÁN LEAVY, LAVELLE SOLICITORS Connacht/Ulster Litigation Law Firm/Lawyer of the Year: GERAGHTY & CO., SOLICITORS Dublin Litigation Law Firm/ Lawyer of the Year: CIARÁN LEAVY, LAVELLE SOLICITORS Munster Litigation Law Firm/ Lawyer of the Year: SWEENEY MCGANN SOLICITORS Property Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: PHILIP LEE Connacht/Ulster Property Law Firm/ Team/Lawyer of the Year: BLAKE & KENNY
Law Book of the Year: RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES, LAURA FARRELL
Leinster (incl. Dublin) Property Law Firm/Team/Lawyer of the Year: PHILIP LEE
Probate Law Firm/Team/ Lawyer of the Year: SWEENEY MCGANN SOLICITORS
Munster Property Law Firm/ Team/Lawyer of the Year: PIERSE FITZGIBBON SOLICITORS
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Events Irish Law Awards
SPONSORED CATEGORY WINNERS
LAW STUDENT OF THE YEAR Law Student of the Year recognises and celebrates the academic legal achievements and other overall achievements of a student studying law in a third-level college or university. WINNER: O’Brien O’Reilly, UCD SPONSOR: Bloomsbury Professional Ireland provides top quality legal and tax information and scholarship in a range of formats including online services, books, ebooks and looseleafs. Its carefully curated book list includes some of the cornerstone texts of Irish legal scholarship such as Kelly: The Irish Constitution, and McMahon and Binchy’s Law of Torts.
Damien Murran of RSM with The Hon. Ms. Justice Catherine McGuinness and Ken Murphy of Law Society of Ireland
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Eoin Molloy of Bloomsbury Professional with Mark O’Brien O’Reilly of UCD
EXCELLENCE & INNOVATION IN CLIENT SERVICE This award honours a firm who has implemented a programme or an initiative which demonstrates innovation and a commitment to continued client care. WINNER: Tracey Solicitors
Peter Moloney of Ormond Meeting Rooms with Marie Crawford of Tracey Solicitors
SPONSOR: Ormond Meeting Rooms is a premium meeting room facility providing a 24/7 service to the legal profession. Conveniently located adjacent to the Four Courts, it can cater for up to 60 people in a variety of different room layouts with superb facilities, state of the art technology, free wifi and exceptional service.
This award recognises and honours an individual lawyer’s outstanding contribution to the law in Ireland over a significant period of time. The nominee should have an exemplary reputation in the legal profession and have significant accomplishments in the law to his or her credit. WINNER: The Hon. Ms. Justice Catherine McGuinness SPONSOR: RSM Ireland is one of the fastest-growing accounting firms serving the midmarket and is part of the RSM network, the sixth-largest global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms in over 120 countries. Its multidisciplinary team has an established track record of working with solicitors to add value and provide solutions to clients.
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Irish Law Awards Events
LAW FIRM INNOVATION AWARD The Law Firm Innovation Award seeks to recognise a law firm that has broken new ground (in terms of innovation) in the delivery of legal services. WINNER: Richard Grogan & Associates Solicitors SPONSOR: Practice Evolve has the same goal today as when it first installed its first license – to provide a quality legal practice management software, value for money and excellent support. The company’s promise is to continue to evolve with ever-changing technology, keeping firms competitive in the legal landscape.
Professor Sean Carroll of MedLaw with Claire Flavin and Rachel Liston of Orpen Franks Solicitors
PERSONAL INJURY/MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAW FIRM/ TEAM/LAWYER OF THE YEAR This award honours a law firm, a team within a law firm, or an individual lawyer who has demonstrated a sense of excellence in the provision of legal services relating to personal injury/medical negligence matters.
Dave McCarthy of Practice Evolve with Michelle Loughnane and Richard Grogan of Richard Grogan & Associates Solicitors
CORPORATE/COMMERCIAL LAW TEAM/ LAWYER OF THE YEAR This award honours a corporate/commercial law team or lawyer who has demonstrated a sense of excellence in the delivery of corporate/commercial law services during recent times.
WINNER: Orpen Franks Solicitors (Medical Negligence Department) SPONSOR: Medlaw is one of Ireland’s leading medicolegal firms boasting the largest panel of medical experts covering all specialties nationwide. Medlaw has a unique knowledge of and access to medical experts and ensures the fastest possible and most appropriate appointments.
WINNER: Beauchamps SPONSOR: Courtsdesk offers digital search, tracking and analytics of all tiers of the Irish courts, including the only searchable archive of the Circuit Court, and the most advanced search and alerts for Irish judgments on the market. It is also the first company in the world to supply a full Companies Registration Office search which links related litigation to corporate profiles. Emer Moriarty Crolley of Beauchamps and Enda Leahy of Courtsdesk
Jarvis Joslyn of LEAP Software with Bernadette Barry & Co
John Donigan of LEAP Software and Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors
SOLE PRACTITIONER OF THE YEAR/ SOLE PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR Sole Practitioner of the Year honours an outstanding sole practitioner. The winner demonstrated in an exemplary manner an exceptional achievement or achievements in law. Sole Principal of the Year rewards a firm of solicitors headed by a sole practitioner demonstrating in an exemplary manner an outstanding achievement or achievements in the law. WINNERS: Bernadette Barry, Bernadette Barry & Co (Sole Practitioner of the Year) and Susan Cosgrove, Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors (Sole Principal of the Year) SPONSOR: Focused on the needs of sole practitioners and small to mid-sized law firms working across the common areas of law, LEAP helps law firms across Ireland to streamline their processes, work more efficiently and provide a better quality of service to their clients. Providing everything you need to run a law firm. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 81
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Events Irish Law Awards
“The work for which this acknowledgment is given was not done by me, it was a team effort led by Siobhan Ryan in particular, a brilliant solicitor in our office. Being honest though, we were just fortunate that the truly extraordinary Vicky Phelan asked us to represent her. Without her courage and determination, others would have died without knowing and without having the opportunity to put in place essential care educational and financial provision for children or even for their own care. “Along then came Ruth Morrissey, a woman who believed the word of a Taoiseach that said she would not have to go through what Vicky had endured before her. Yet ultimately, she spent 40 days at the trial against the state and the labs. “So in accepting this award, and acknowledging the great work of the legal team, I do so on behalf of our brave and terribly wronged clients. For those women and their families, those grieving and those yet to grieve, I know you all join me in wishing them well in the uncertain and frightening future that they and their much-loved families face.”
SPECIAL MERIT AWARD
ashel solicitor Cian O’Carroll picked up the Special Merit Award for his significant and noteworthy contribution for his quest for justice for the women negatively affected by cervical cancer misdiagnoses. On the night Cian delivered a moving speech:
DR EAMONN G. HALL CHAIRMAN OF THE IRISH LAW AWARDS JUDGING PANEL BART DALY MANAGING DIRECTOR, FRONTIER LEGAL RESEARCH LTD. ARRAN DOWLING-HUSSEY BARRISTER, ARBITRATOR, ADJUDICATOR AND MEDIATOR STUART GILHOOLY PARTNER, H.J. WARD & CO. SOLICITORS & PAST PRESIDENT, LAW SOCIETY AOIFE HENNESSY PARTNER, SWEENEY MCGANN RICHARD HAMMOND PARTNER, HAMMOND GOOD, SOLICITORS & NOTARIES PUBLIC & COUNCIL MEMBER, LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND ROBERT HERON GENERAL COUNSEL, DUNNES STORES EAMONN KENNEDY FORMER DIRECTOR OF LEGAL AFFAIRS, RTÉ ROSEMARIE LOFTUS JOINT MANAGING PARTNER, BOURKE, CARRIGG & LOFTUS FIDELMA MCMANUS PARTNER, BEAUCHAMPS COMMERCIAL PROPERTY TEAM HENRY MURDOCH BARRISTER AND WRITER ANNE NEARY SOLICITOR AND MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT MICHAEL V. O’MAHONY SOLICITOR & NOTARY PUBLIC, PAST PRESIDENT LAW SOCIETY MICHELE O’BOYLE PARTNER, O’BOYLE SOLICITORS, SLIGO & COUNCIL MEMBER, LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND
Dr Eamonn Hall, Chairperson of the Judging Panel with Cian O’Carroll of Cian O’Carroll Solicitors
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KEVIN O’HIGGINS PRINCIPAL, O’HIGGINS SOLICITORS, PAST PRESIDENT LAW SOCIETY KEITH WALSH PRINCIPAL, KEITH WALSH SOLICITORS
Škoda Scala: BHP: 115 Price: €23,650 PCP offer: 9% PCP from launch Wheel options: 16” or 17” alloy Engine options: Choice of two petrol engines and one diesel
ŠKODA RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE COMPANY’S RANGE OF VEHICLES AIMED AT MEETING THE AUTOMOBILE NEEDS OF THE IRISH PUBLIC.
he new Škoda compact hatchback, Scala, is the spiritual successor to the company’s Rapid that concluded production earlier this year. While the Rapid was offered in saloon and hatchback body styles, the Scala is exclusively offered as a hatchback. The wide and low stance and protruding front grille hide the fact that the Scala is one of the largest cars in its segment, measuring 4.4m in length. These dimensions deliver unrivalled interior spaciousness; particularly for rear seat passengers. Boot capacity is not sacrificed with 467 litres of capacity with unfolded seats, while low fuel consumption is assured with a turbocharged line-up of TSI petrol engines – a lower powered 1.0 TSI 95bhp petrol unit is due to be offered at a later date. Infotainment and connectivity have become increasingly important for Irish motorists over recent years. The Scala will be the first brand in the Volkswagen Group to receive the third and mostadvanced generation of infotainment systems, known internally as MIB3. The benefits of the new MIB3 units include a much cleaner cock-pit as former infotainment, and air-conditioning buttons move to controls operating from 6.5", 8.0" or 9.2" colour touch screens.
Other benefits include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless phone charging capability. While USB-c ports are only starting to come on stream, with many customers still operating devices from standard USB leads, the Scala is futureproofed with the use of USB-c ports for superior phone charging and data transfer capabilities. The Scala is the most connected car ever launched by Škoda, with built-in SIM cards offering access to Škoda Connected Services, while Emergency Call functionality is offered as standard equipment. Starting from €23,650 for the 1.0 TSI 115bhp, Škoda hopes the Scala will attract a younger and more affluent demographic to the brand and is also offering an introductory 1.9% PCP to make the vehicle even more appealing. Commenting at the launch of the Scala, Ray Leddy, Head of Marketing and Product, said: “We are very excited about the launch of the new Scala. The Škoda brand has tremendous momentum in Ireland with the brand entering the top-five best-selling brands for the first time. We are confident the new Scala will fuel further success. The product is priced competitively with excellent exterior design and quality interiors.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 83
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Arts and Culture Kevin Barry
COLIN WHITE SPEAKS WITH OUTSPOKEN AUTHOR KEVIN BARRY ABOUT THE IRISH LITERARY SCENE, FILM ADAPTATIONS AND THE LAUNCH OF HIS LATEST NOVEL, NIGHT BOAT TO TANGIER.
T Kevin Barry
here are few nations in the world that care so passionately about the written word as much as this windswept island. We’ve produced a long list of literary legends – a trend that shows little sign of abating. Kevin Barry is a prime example of a new breed of storytellers and his unique style of prose has garnered praise far and wide since he first burst onto the scene. His work to date includes the critically acclaimed novels City of Bohane and Beatlebone, as well as short story collections Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. Already receiving very favourable reviews despite its recent release, Barry’s latest release Night Boat to Tangier focuses on the trials and tribulations of two Irish gangsters enveloped in a world of violence and sex as they embark on a lucrative and dangerous drug smuggling run. “For years now, I’ve been travelling to the south of Spain to escape the dead of the Irish winter, just to get away from the murk and the clouds for a while,” Barry describes of the inspiration behind his third novel. “Travelling kind of vaguely
around the Andalucian towns and cities, I suppose I slowly felt the atmosphere of a novel forming. All it took then was to take two ageing Corkonian gangsters and place them in the ferry terminal at the port of Algeciras, and I was off. Often the best research for a novel is the stuff you don’t realise is research at the time you’re doing it.” Barry is part of a cohort of Irish writers making waves at present – Emma Donoghue, Sally Rooney, Paul Murray, et al. I ask the author if the preconception of Ireland as a nation of storytellers is a justified one. “Well, we love the sounds of our own voices, don’t we?” he says. “We are a phenomenally verbal people – when you get with friends and family here, it doesn’t matter if you’re telling the same old stories over and over again, what matters is the quality of the rendition. And this makes for an island full of fabulists and spoofers. “There is some very strong writing emerging here all the time. For a relatively small island, there are more than a few writers turning out a very high grade of material – let’s be honest, it’s the only thing we’re genuinely world-class at. But I baulk a little at talk of a golden age and so forth... let’s not be self-congratulatory.”
Kevin WE NEED
TO TALK ABOUT
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Lennon legacy Upon its release back in 2011, Barry’s first novel, City of Bohane, quickly caught the attention of both critics and bookworms alike. It’s incomparable to any other Irish novel, set in mid-21st century rural Ireland where characters battle to survive in an unruly landscape whilst speaking in an invented dialect. The follow-up, Beatlebone – a fictional tale based around John Lennon’s visit to Clew Bay in 1968 – brought additional pressure for Barry. The expectation to deliver after a hugely successful debut, coupled with the fact that the subject matter concentrated on one of the world’s most revered songwriters, weighed heavily on the Limerick man. “I’d worry if I didn’t feel pressure with a new book coming out,” Barry admits. “You want to be testing yourself and changing all the time. Certainly, the publication of Beatlebone did feel like a pressure situation because I was trying something risky – attempting a voice for John Lennon. I think I got away with it.” Barry needn’t have worried. Beatlebone was well received with upon its release and further cemented Barry’s reputation as a unique and astute modern Irish voice. Much has been described of his style, often in hyperbolic terms, but less is known about his creative process. “I get up, I don’t go online, and I go straight to the desk,” says Barry. “You won’t procrastinate if you don’t give yourself a chance to procrastinate. I’m not precious about a particular space or room – the most important thing for me is to keep quite regular hours at it, to go in every morning.”
Bookworms In the current publishing landscape authors can often struggle to make ends meet. It seems to be a case of survival of the fittest. Barry concedes that he navigated the progression from freelance journalist to full-time writer “with difficulty and then with luck”. “In some ways,” he explains further, “writing features and columns and so forth can seem like ideal training for a fiction writer – you’re making it all up! But at the same time you have to spend a lot of hours freelancing to make a living, and it can wear you out a bit. I’ve been very lucky
that since my first book of stories came out in 2007, I’ve been able to write fiction and drama full-time, initially through some bursaries and prizes, and then I suppose through developing a readership. “We’re still very much a nation of readers,” Barry comments on the state of the publishing industry. “It’s healthier in Ireland than it is elsewhere. But, I think writers have to diversify and work in different forms now, at least if you want to get by without teaching. I work in loads of different areas: stories, novels, plays, screenplays and essays. It helps in terms of making a living, but also in terms of keeping things fresh for myself. I want to have a good time with my work. If I’m not, the reader or the audience isn’t.” The amount of supports available for writers to develop their art has been questioned in some quarters of the media. Barry weighs in on the argument. “There are great journals and indie presses, and organisations like the Arts Council do a lot for writers,” he states. “But the fact remains that for all our yap and veneration of writers and artists, Ireland still spends less on the arts than almost any country in Europe.” Of course, young writers need to be given time to hone their craft, and Barry was no different. He admits that over enthusiasm and a lack of patience were troublesome traits he shared in common with many aspiring writers. “Perhaps shooting for the moon a little too early was foolish,” he ponders of his early years in the profession. “Sometimes you can be attempting to write something that you’re years away from. This was certainly the case with me. The trick of it – a phrase you should run from always – is to figure out what’s the correct story for your desk at this time in your life.”
Cinematic structure With the recent glut of novels being reimagined for the big screen – with varying results – there’s an undoubted added financial angle to be exploited for talented writers. Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon and starring Peter Coonan, Pat Shortt, Charlie Murphy and Tommy Tiernan, Barry’s story collection Dark Lies the Island was released in 2019 with a premiere at the Dublin International Film Festival.
Arts and Culture
Barry’s cinematic style is well suited to film and TV projects and having previously spoken about writing with actors in mind, does he foresee further works transferring to the big screen (surely a hefty budget would be required to pull off City of Bohane)? “Maybe so,” he says referring to any attempt to adapt the futuristic masterpiece, “but I am still talking to people about it, potentially as a television project.” He continues: “Beatlebone has been optioned for film and there’s early interest in the new one [Night Boat to Tangier] too. I’m also writing original scripts – there’s a horseracing yarn called ‘The Gee Gees’ for Element Pictures that I have high hopes for.” Barry’s main goal for 2019 is “to remain calm”. He says: “I’m 50 now, so I can’t say that’s not on my mind to some degree. Goals? I don’t know... to accelerate smoothly into mid-career?” As an avid Beatles fan, a particular John Lennon lyric springs to mind that aptly sums up Barry’s individual style of escapism: ‘You know the place where nothing is real. Well here’s another place you can go; where everything flows.’ For the sake of Irish literature, let’s hope that smooth acceleration into mid-career meanders for many a mile. Night Boat to Tangier is now available in all good book shops. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 85
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The Big Read Enda The Road
Election POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT GAVAN REILLY CHRONICLES THE POLITICAL CRISIS THAT LED TO THE END OF ENDA KENNY’S REIGN AS TAOISEACH IN HIS DEBUT, ENDA THE ROAD: NINE DAYS THAT TOPPLED A TAOISEACH.
t was never supposed to be like this. He had worked too hard, waited too long. It had taken four decades of toil to get to the summit of Irish politics, and the view was too rewarding to climb down so soon. The 2016 election was supposed to be Fine Gael’s to lose. Five years earlier, in February 2011, with the largest parliamentary majority in Irish history, Enda Kenny and his government had inherited a country close to bankruptcy and under the thumb of the ‘Troika’ of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – the international lenders of last resort, drafted in by the outgoing Fianna Fáil-led government when nobody else would lend Ireland the money it needed. Still, when Kenny did finally dissolve the 31st Dáil on 3 February 2016, there was little reason to doubt that he would become the first Fine Gael leader to win two successive terms as Taoiseach. The economy was continuing to grow, and all the big-picture statistics were positive. The initial theme of the election was not who would win it, but rather with whom Enda Kenny would govern after it was over. Moreover, this campaign was to be Kenny’s swansong: 2016 would be the last election campaign he would ever lead. The 64-year-old, who had led Fine Gael for 14 years, had already committed to bowing out after this term. But, somehow, Fine Gael’s comfortable lead in the polls ebbed away. The party’s campaign appeared to stutter even from the moment it began, when Kenny decisively announced to the Dáil that he wanted to dissolve it, but then seemed to immediately dither on whether to head straight to Áras an Úachtaráin or allow opposition leaders to speak first.
Hours later, at the campaign kick-off press conference, Kenny was challenged about the party’s calculations on the ‘fiscal space’, the voguish term the government had used when talking about the extra money available for new purposes in future years. Kenny flubbed, tried to evade the question on the premise of avoiding ‘economic jargon’, and eventually drafted his finance minister, Michael Noonan, to answer it. The rickety opening day would set the tone, and what ought to have been a canter soon became a stumble. Sinn Féin quickly pointed out a €2bn over-calculation in the ‘fiscal space’ figures, which was especially damaging given the disparaging ‘Shinnernomics’ brush with which Sinn Féin’s economic figures were usually tarred. The party also harnessed the raw power of the campaign against water charges, which had become a lightning rod of anti-austerity anger. That anger put paid to Labour, which had gained power on the premise of softening the edges of Fine Gael’s austerity, but was mostly seen as having merely enabled it instead. Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, had become keenly aware that a campaign aimed at ‘keeping the recovery going’ would wear thin in the large swathes of the country where little or no recovery was being felt. The cost of housing had also become especially pressing, and while unemployment had fallen, many in precarious work still struggled with the cost of living. Fine Gael pursued the full traditions of a leader’s tour, but something was amiss. Kenny, while being whisked around the country, remained somehow cloistered off from the campaign on the ground.
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Enda The Road
He would later grumble that all of his events were set pieces, choreographed so that he would only ever speak to Fine Gael supporters and was rarely brought into contact with average voters. The frustration perhaps boiled over when, on the final Saturday of the election campaign, Kenny addressed a hometown crowd in Castlebar where, excited by the crowd, he described some in the town as ‘All-Ireland champion whingers’. Kenny claimed the remark was aimed at ‘locals’ who found it ‘very difficult to see anything good, anywhere, anytime’ – ‘some of them wouldn’t know sunshine if they saw it’. Kenny had unwittingly exemplified the inability of Fine Gael to tailor its messaging according to the public mood. Rightly or wrongly, Ireland had become accustomed to certain standards of living, and those standards were not being met. Kenny, with four decades of public service under his belt, was kept out of reach of the ordinary punter and so was powerless to diagnose these faults. The cost to Fine Gael of this tone-deafness became clear when the votes were counted. Despite its restoring relative normality to a crocked economy, Fine Gael’s lead over Fianna Fáil had shrunk to just 1.2%. It was the election nobody won – yet still Enda Kenny had managed to come out on top. Many within Fine Gael, however, still lamented their new circumstances. Sure, their party had retained power – but being reliant on the acquiescence of its historic rival meant there was little chance to enjoy it. It wasn’t, to put it simply, supposed to be like this. In an honest bid to break the deadlock, after six weeks Kenny offered to form a full coalition with Fianna Fáil, telling Martin that a minority government led by either party would not work and only a full coalition, perhaps buffered by a few independents, would give Ireland the stability it needed. Martin rejected the idea almost immediately, believing a full coalition would frustrate both parties while leaving Sinn Féin with a near-monopoly on opposition. Kenny’s audacious gesture did, however, plant a seed. The new 32nd Dáil had met as scheduled, failing to elect a new Taoiseach, forcing Kenny to fulfil his constitutional duty of officially resigning as premier, though remaining in a caretaker capacity. Kenny had already declared his unhappiness at a minority government, but it now offered him a ticket back into power. All it would take was the burying of a 90-year-old hatchet. And so the talks began. Kenny nominated a team of negotiators to pull the arithmetic together, with
The Big Read
five ministers from the out-going administration part of the team. Beginning in the Sycamore Room of Government Buildings, the team spent endless days negotiating in parallel with multiple different blocs, hoping to secure either their formal support for Fine Gael’s return to power, or at the very least their complicit abstention when the government was being elected. Eventually, the deals were done. On the final Friday of April – nine weeks after the general election – Enda Kenny was re-elected Taoiseach with the support of those 59 TDs and the abstention of Fianna Fáil. Many within Fine Gael, however, still lamented their new circumstances. Sure, their party had retained power – but being reliant on the acquiescence of its historic rival meant there was little chance to enjoy it. An enormous lead in the opinion polls had not translated into the runaway success that the party felt it deserved. It wasn’t, to put it simply, supposed to be like this.
This is an abridged extract from Enda the Road: Nine Days That Toppled a Taoiseach by Gavan Reilly, published by Mercier Press. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 87
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BUSINESS DERRY FOR SUCH A SMALL CITY, THERE’S AN AWFUL LOT TO SEE AND DO IN DERRY DURING A BUSINESS TRIP TO ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST UPAND-COMING CITIES. Derry has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance of late and is becoming renowned not for its political past but its quaint streets filled with cool bars, great restaurants and charming local characters. Derry is one of the best-preserved walled cities in Europe, and you can enjoy spectacular views during a stroll along the historic 17th century walls out across River Foyle and the Peace Bridge. Indeed, Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of its kind in all of Europe. The walls tell the story of the city’s political upheaval and the civil rights struggles of its inhabitants over the centuries. And, if it’s history you’re after, the city’s fascinating past is recounted in several museums dotted around the city. Don’t miss out on a visit to The Tower Museum in Union Hall Place within a historic tower just inside the city walls, while the Museum of Free Derry focuses on the birth of the city’s civil rights movement.
Bogside bliss There’s a cracking cultural scene here too: gaze at ornate stained-glass windows at the Guildhall, check out a show at the
Peace Bridge Mussenden Temple
Millennium Forum or take a tour and get the real stories behind the city’s famous murals. After walking through centuries of history you’ll be ready to sample the region’s fantastic food. If you’re after
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17th Century City Walls
g for Travellin Business
GETTING THE BEST DEAL
GETTING THERE If you can’t reach Derry by car, there are a number of rail and bus links from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
unadulterated fare created with quality local produce, The Sooty Olive will act as the perfect backdrop to an unforgettable evening. Or for something a little more lavish, check out innovative dishes bursting with flavour at trendy spot Brickwork. And, when it comes to watering holes, Derry packs a serious punch. You’ll find a plethora of tasty beers to try at the modern Walled City Brewery, as well as a host of seasonal specials, all delivered with a smile by a talented team of beer specialists. Or try some expertly crafted cocktails and Quaywest Bar and Restaurant, a lively gastro-pub located at Queen’s Quay.
Causeway cruise If you’re looking to get off the beaten path and taste the magic of the countryside, Derry is the perfect place to use as your base to explore the coastal beauty and lush landscapes of County Derry. So, get on the road and check out the stunning Causeway Coastal Route and marvel at such wonders as Mussenden Temple, Portstewart Strand, Dunluce Castle and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. A visit to Derry will both inspire and reenergise. At the point where the Causeway Coastal Route meets the Wild Atlantic Way you’ll discover a buzzing city with an incredible history and personality all of its own you’re going to want to delve into.
HOTEL If it’s value for money you’re after, look no further than Number 8 The Townhouse on Artillery Street. Look out onto Derry’s 400-year-old walls while enjoying a coffee in the Georgian-panelled Tea Room, or take a leisurely walk around the city from this centrally located hotel close to the city’s hub of theatres, music venues, bars and shops.
TRANSPORT Getting around Derry is easy. The city is extremely accessible on foot and there’s plenty of taxis to get you from A to B too. Translink provides the Foyle Metro services across the city – pick up a Translink iLink card to save while you travel if opting for public transport.
MEALS You’ll find amazing food at great prices at Hidden City Café, an independently run family eatery with the aim to provide a different eating experience, with a huge focus on clean and honest plant-based produce. While endeavouring to have as much organic and local ingredients as possible without it costing the earth, the café caters to all diets.
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HOURS IN DERRY ONE DAY OFF? HERE’S HOW TO SPEND IT. 10AM | GUILDHALL SQUARE
4PM | WAREHOUSE GALLERY
Get fuelled for the day ahead with breakfast at The Coffee Tree, a café specialising in great coffee and yummy bites. Or if you’re lucky enough to time your visit on the first Saturday of the month, take a trip to the Walled City Market in Guildhall Square and tickle your taste buds with a range of local sweet treats.
Appreciate some of the very best local contemporary and traditional artists at Warehouse Gallery, home to an extensive range of paintings, ceramics and sculpture – the perfect place to enjoy established local artists as well as discover emerging talent.
BISHOP’S GATE HOTEL Perfectly situated within the historic city walls in the heart of Derry city’s Cathedral Quarter lies a Derry landmark reborn. First built in 1899, the hotel blends stunning Edwardian architecture with top-notch facilities to meet every business traveller’s needs, including 31 luxurious guestrooms and a 90-person capacity ballroom. W: www.bishopsgatehotelderry.com T: +44 (0) 28 7114 0300 E: email@example.com
7.30PM | FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS 12PM | SIEGE MUSEUM
Discover the story of the Apprentice Boys and the siege of Derry in 1688, when the English king found the walls of the city barred to him – an incident that shaped the history of Ireland – at The Siege Museum. Then drop into the neo-Gothic Guildhall for a peek at the permanent exhibition on the history of the region. 2PM | PYKE ’N’ POMMES
If you’re feeling peckish, pop along to Pyke ’N’ Pommes by the River Foyle for the very best of local produce from passionate producers.
For a flavour of how passionate and proud the locals are in Derry, pay a visit to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium and watch Derry City FC’s heroes in a League of Ireland encounter. 10PM | NIGHTLIFE
Whether you fancy a cosy pub, historic theatres or a thriving music scene, Derry delivers in spades. Culture vultures should make a beeline to The Nerve Centre, one of Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts centres before finishing the night off with a late drink at colourful Sandino’s Cafe Bar.
CITY HOTEL DERRY Perched on the banks of the River Foyle, the City Hotel offers a dedicated conference and events floor offering nine stylish meeting rooms that can accommodate between two and 450 delegates in a variety of layouts. And there’s the perfect tonic to a hard day’s work at the hotel’s health and fitness club, complete with swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and gym. T: +44 (0) 28 7136 5800 W: www.cityhotelderry.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
SHIPQUAY HOTEL Enjoy views over the city’s famous landmarks at this intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Derry. With origins dating back to 1895 when it was originally constructed for the Provincial Bank of Ireland, today Shipquay Hotel is a five-storey Italianate-style heritage building with 21 contemporary bedrooms oozing charm and personality.
T: +44 (0) 28 7126 7266 W: www.shipquayhotel.com E: email@example.com
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Drinks Industry Lifestyle
INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: IRISH POITÍN
rish poitín producers want to increase sales from 5,000 cases in 2018 to 80,000 over the next decade, according to the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), with the industry seeking to position the spirit in the premium category. ABFI is highlighting the story of the revival of poitín as part of the ‘ABFI Innovation Pulse’, launched last month to highlight innovation, creativity and experimentation by producers and drinks categories within the industry. Poitín producers have set their sights on growing sales in a number of international markets, with an initial focus on growing poitín sales in Ireland. Its authenticity and Irish heritage are also qualities the industry will highlight as part of its strategy. Since poitín is a Protected Geographical Indicator by the EU, this means that it must be produced on the island of Ireland, in accordance with certain production practices and standards.
KEEP ABREAST OF ALL THE LATEST NEWS FROM IRELAND’S THRIVING BEVERAGE SECTOR WITH OUR INDUSTRY ROUND-UP.
PORTERHOUSE BREW CO ANNOUNCES NEW IPAS
Independent, family owned Irish craft brewer Porterhouse Brew Co is scheduled to release four new canned IPAs throughout 2019 alongside the release of its first Milkshake IPA, which will be available on draught. Following the launch of its new state-of-the-art brewery which opened in Glasnevin, Dublin in 2018, the Irish craft brewer is expanding its portfolio of award-winning stouts and porters to introduce a wider variety of seasonal brews and IPAs in response to the rising demand, both domestically as well as across Europe and in international markets. With a team that combines the expertise and knowledge acquired over the last two decades since the brand’s fruition, the new brewery is serving as a hub of innovation and increased experimentation. The result is an exploration into IPAs and 2019 will see the widening of its offering, commencing with the launch of a new canned Yippy IPA, followed by four further IPA releases scheduled throughout the summer of 2019.
MALT WHISKEY DISTILLING BEGINS AT ROE & CO DISTILLERY
12m THE PREDICTED NUMBER OF IRISH WHISKEY EXPORTS BY 2020
xcitement was in the air at the Roe & Co Distillery ahead of the doors opening on James’s Street in Dublin on 21 June. Located in the heart of Dublin’s whiskey district, visitors will be treated to one of the most immersive experiences in whiskey distilling. The 75-minute tour will allow guests to observe the operational distillery, hear the hum of production, and witness the copper pot stills from an impressive elevated glass walkway. A visit to the working distillery will also involve guests clocking in and clocking out as they commence a ‘shift’ at the power station with a time card, a nostalgic nod at the building’s past as an operational power station. The experience concludes with guests able to clock-off work with a Roe & Co cocktail in the Power House Bar.
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Profile A Day in the Life
7AM If I’m not travelling abroad for meetings, I’m usually awakened by our youngest son Cian, who is 20 months’ old. His smiling little face gets every day off to a good start! I check my emails before getting breakfast – we have customers globally, so there are always new queries and orders coming through. I grab some breakfast before dropping the three older children to primary school most days when I’m not travelling. 9AM The office is a 15-minute drive from home, so I don’t lose any time commuting. As an innovative company, we are always working on developing and refining our products. A typical morning will include a review with the product design team to ensure projects are moving at the right pace, and that the right resources are allocated to the priorities for any given week. We work very closely with our customers to provide a prototyping service – an important step in converting customers to use OVVO is giving them confidence that the benefits we claim our product will bring to our customers is real. 11AM I spend time most mornings reviewing our sales pipeline and order book, and ensuring that any specific customer requirements are being delivered and are on schedule. As Managing Director, I am responsible for all finance, funding, patent applications, recruitment, contract negotiations with potential commercial partners, and a very long list of other important functions. I work to allocate some time each week to each of these areas as typically there is always something on this list that needs attention. 1PM I always try to take at Brendan Phillips, least a 30-minute lunch break, to stretch my legs Managing Director, and have a break from the computer screen. Our OVVO product is an innovative connection system that joins wood and other materials together without using tools, screws or glue – it has the potential to transform how people think about putting things together in the future, and an important part of my role is working to identify potential target industries and customers. In the afternoon, I allocate time to the business development side of my role. Trade fairs are very important for showcasing our product, but the work really only starts when we get back from them – identifying and prioritising leads, and initiating or developing conversations with potential customers who we will have recently met. Scheduling follow-up calls and meetings, as well as checking in with our existing customers also takes time most afternoons. 6PM I aim to leave work most evenings by 6pm. I try to go to the gym or get a jog in when possible, but some evenings are filled with children’s activities – soccer, GAA, boxing, yoga, piano lessons, speech and drama, dancing, swimming… the list goes on! 8.30PM Activities are usually finished by 8.30pm, so I spend at least another hour or two back in the office at home, working with customers in the US or working through more of the ‘to-do’ list for that week.
THE INVISIBLE MAN BRENDAN PHILLIPS TALKS US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY AS MANAGING DIRECTOR AT OVVO, AN INVISIBLE FURNITURE CONNECTION SYSTEM THAT DELIVERS PERFECTLY ALIGNED WOOD JOINTS WITHOUT THE USE OF TOOLS, FURNITURE SCREWS OR GLUES. 92 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Tailor-made finance solutions. We work with businesses to create bespoke finance strategies that suit individual needs. Whether you want your repayments to match income patterns or need to raise higher levels of funding, our flexible solutions can help you realise your ambitions. Contact us today to find out how our asset and invoice finance solutions can support your business.
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Close Brothers | Modern Merchant Banking Close Brothers Limited (being a UK registered private limited company and its Irish registered branch of the same name having registration number 907899), trading as (and having as registered business names) Close Brothers Asset Finance, Close Brothers Commercial Finance, Close Brothers Premium Finance Ireland, Close Brothers Motor Finance and Braemar Finance, is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules. UK registered address: 10 Crown Place, London, EC2A 4FT, registered at Companies House, Number 00195626. Directors: M. Biggs (UK), O. Corbett (UK), G. Howe (UK), J. Howell (UK), L. Jones (UK), E. Lee (UK), B. Macaskill (UK), M. Morgan (UK), P. Prebensen (UK) and A. Sainsbury (UK). Close Brothers Invoice Finance and Close Brothers Commercial Finance are registered business names of Close Invoice Finance Limited, a UK registered private limited company (and its Irish registered branch of the same name having registration number 908024). UK registered address: 10 Crown Place, London, EC2A 4FT, registered at Companies House, Number 00935949. Directors: J. Brown (UK), C. McAreavey (UK), A. Sainsbury (UK), I. Steward (UK), D. Thomson, (UK).
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The official publication of the SFA (Small Firms Association).