Chamberlink Issue 2 2024 - A Vision for Progress & Innovation

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A Vision for Progress and Innovation


The meaningful branding business.


Cork punches well above its weight –politically, economically and socially. As Ireland’s fastest growing city, with a strong reputation as a place for business and an enviable quality of life, the Cork region continues to present countless opportunities to deliver for Ireland.

To realise these opportunities, we must remain focused on maintaining and leveraging Cork’s competitive edge. The level of ambition displayed over the coming years will be key to determining Cork’s future. With that in mind, we must all continue to be ambitious about our region’s future to ensure it remains a welcoming, accessible and attractive place to live, work, study and invest in.

We are very proud that Cork Chamber has been appointed an SDG champion by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. This will support our work in advancing sustainability as a pillar of growth for our city region. We will keep you informed on upcoming activities in this regard.

2024 has long been touted as the year of elections globally, and that includes here in Ireland. With the local and European elections behind us and our newly elected representatives beginning to take up roles that will be key to shaping Cork’s future, many of us are already turning our attention to the general election anticipated in the coming months.

While we take heed of changing politics and priorities, the core of our mandate remains the same –representing you and your interests. Regardless of the evolving politics in Cork, Dublin and Brussels, we will continue to engage with our elected representatives at every level of government as your chamber of commerce. Our advocacy is shaped by your voices and views – as Ireland’s number one regional lobby group, our track record of engaging on behalf of Cork’s vibrant business community speaks for itself.

It has been a busy quarter for our events and we continue to deliver opportunities to connect and stay informed on changes in the business landscape. The first of our new Industry Insights series focused on pensions auto enrolment. Our highly competitive Cork Digital Marketing Awards were launched and we look forward to the awards which will be hosted in October.

At our recent AGM we welcomed a new president, Rob Horgan who brings a strong voice and valued perspective to the activities of Cork Chamber. We also welcomed new board members and appointed new officers – who along with the existing board members bring a wealth of valuable industry expertise and insight. I am very thankful to our immediate past president, Ronan Murray, and outgoing board members Thia Hennessy, CUBS UCC (Honorary Secretary), Gerard O’Donovan MTU (Honorary Treasurer), Maxine Hyde, Ballymaloe Foods, and Debbie Power, Future Planet, who have contributed hugely through their term on the board.

Collaboration underpins all aspects of the work done by the team and I at Cork Chamber – whether that is with our board of directors, across our membership, or with the region’s stakeholders. We look forward to continuing this effective collaboration for the quarter ahead, advancing your agenda.

T: +353 (0)87 9471858


Fitzgerald House, Summerhill North, Cork, T23 TD90

Evolving Cork: Embracing our heritage while innovating for the future

Resilience: Business adaptation to climate change

Cork poised to lead Ireland’s offshore wind charge

Offshore Renewable Industry Forum (CORIF) launch

to leadership

Change: The story of sign and cycle

From equality to prosperity

Car Free Day wins local engagement award

Chambers Ireland hosted the annual Chamber Awards, sponsored by Zurich Insurance at Kilashee House. These awards showcase a huge variety of achievements throughout the Chamber network and reaffirm their strengths in championing the business community.

Cork Chamber won the Local Authority Engagement category for Cork’s inaugural Car Free Day, which was held on September 23rd, 2023.

It was a collaborative effort involving Cork Chamber, Cork City Council, the Transport and Mobility Forum, and other stakeholders.

By successfully implementing Cork’s first Car-Free Day, we piloted a transformative approach to urban mobility and demonstrated the feasibility and benefits of car-free initiatives. This inaugural event served as a blueprint for future Open Streets Events, paving the way for ongoing

efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable transportation, and create a more vibrant and liveable city for all.

Grace takes up international manager role

Grace Kelleher has been appointed to the role of International Manager. Grace will be responsible for leading and delivering Cork Chamber’s international stakeholder engagement in addition to overseeing key projects: Connecting Cork, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), REEValue and leading the Cork Financial Services Forum activities. Grace joined Cork Chamber as EEN Executive in 2022. Previously, she has worked as an Economic Enterprise and Business Development Executive at the South Cork Local Enterprise Office. She holds a B.A (Hons) Major in Economics and a MSc Business Economics from University College Cork.

Pictured at the Chambers Ireland Awards 2024 are Joe Creegan, Head of Corporate Life & Pensions, Zurich Ireland; Naoimh Frawley, Director of People, Operations & Governance, Cork Chamber and Fiona Candon, President of Chambers Ireland.

Prioritising Cork

Cork Chamber announces newly elected president, honorary officers and board members at Annual General Meeting 2024.

Cork Chamber held its 205th Annual General Meeting at the Imperial Hotel Cork in May at which Rob Horgan, entrepreneur and owner of Velo Coffee, was announced as the new President. Addressing members at the event Rob outlined his vision and commitment to furthering Cork’s economic and social prosperity.

Mr Horgan articulated a forwardthinking vision for Cork, emphasising a dynamic, innovative, and inclusive city region.

He thanked the outgoing President, Ronan Murray for his contributions to Cork Chamber along with outgoing board members Thia Hennessy, CUBS

UCC (Honorary Secretary); Gerard O’Donovan MTU (Honorary Treasurer); Maxine Hyde, Ballymaloe Foods and Debbie Power, Future Planet.

The results of the board elections were announced with Susie Horgan, Springboard Communications appointed as Honorary Secretary and Michael Nolan, Grant Thornton appointed Honorary Treasurer.

Newly elected board members are: Conor O’Toole, Clayton Hotel Cork City; Gillian Bergin, Dell Technologies; Garrett O’Keeffe, SolarWinds; Carmel Lonergan, Trigon Hotels and Dr Jean van Sinderen-Law, UCC.

Main Picture: Standing: Carmel Lonergan, Trigon Hotels; Ronan Murray, Immediate Past President; Susie Horgan, Springboard Communications and Honorary Secretary; Conor O’Toole, Clayton Hotel Cork City; Gillian Bergin, Dell Technologies; Garrett O’Keeffe, SolarWinds; Dr Jean van Sinderen-Law, UCC and Michael Nolan, Grant Thornton and Honorary Treasurer. Seated: Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber and Conor Healy, CEO Cork Chamber. Photo: John Roche Photography

A Vision for Progress and Innovation

Cork Chamber is driven by a clear, ambitious vision: to foster a vibrant, progressive, and innovative city region. Our commitment to excellence transcends the ordinary, aiming to position Cork as a robust, reliable, and dynamic environment for businesses to flourish. This vision is not merely aspirational but a tangible roadmap for the future.

Cork: A City of Growth and Opportunity

Growing up on the outskirts of Cork, I have witnessed firsthand its transformation to a bustling metropolitan area. This city has been my playground, my school ground, my workplace, and my home. It is this personal connection that fuels my determination to support Cork Chamber’s mission to elevate our region’s profile and share all it has to offer.

Cork’s business landscape is exceptionally strong, with thriving clusters in ICT, pharmaceuticals, cybersecurity, renewable energy, financial services, maritime, and agrifood sectors. Cork City generates the highest revenue per person in Ireland. Our educational institutions, hosting over 40,000 students, producing over 10,000 graduates annually, underpin this dynamic ecosystem. With our pro-business environment it is no wonder that Cork was ranked No 1 small European city for FDI strategy in the Financial Times.

Housing – An Economic Enabler

Despite our successes, challenges remain, particularly in housing. And while we are seeing some developments come on stream, and these will have the most impact on housing numbers, we must remain focused on delivery to ensure our economy can continue to grow. With the population of Cork

set to grow significantly in the coming years we need to see a pace of housing delivery not witnessed before.

In an era with so much pressure for viable accommodation, we must be relentless in pursuing all the options. Transforming our above shop spaces. Rejuvenating derelict properties.

The renovations that are most needed are those to our thinking, if we are to deliver this. Instead of listing the barriers, we need to all list the solutions.

All stakeholders must be determined to seek change in how we think about, use and plan for the urban spaces that we all look forward to having. Thereby making best use of the assets that we have while enhancing the urban environment, in parallel with investing in new developments. We simply must find creative resolutions to the issues that are rendering so much real estate vacant and falling into disrepair.

A Vision for Cork’s Urban Landscape

Our vision for Cork’s urban landscape extends beyond housing. We envision bustling streets, green spaces, and a rich mix of accommodation, offices, retailers, cultural sites, and hospitality businesses.

A safe city is non-negotiable. It’s no longer acceptable to rely on reported crime numbers as a measure of safety. Cork City centre needs to be a welcoming place where everybody feels safe. Increased visibility of gardaí is crucial to fostering a sense of safety and community. It’s no longer acceptable to rely solely on reported crime numbers as a measure of safety.

Embracing Multiculturalism

Cork’s multicultural population, with nearly half of its residents born outside the country, brings a wealth of opportunities. Embracing this diversity fuels creativity, innovation, and economic growth. We must continue to make Cork an attractive place to study, live, work, and invest in, fostering inclusive communities where everyone has the chance to thrive.

Talent Development

Our talented workforce is the lifeblood of Cork’s economy. To maintain our competitive edge, ongoing investment in education and apprenticeship programs is essential. Additionally, improving access to affordable childcare will ensure parents can fully participate in the workforce, unlocking their potential and contributing to our region’s prosperity. It is unacceptable that the lack of childcare is preventing parents from having real choices when considering their participation in the workplace.

Transforming Transport

The future of Cork’s transport system is pivotal. The planned light rail system, along with smart, multi-modal transport options, will reduce car dependency and create a more sustainable, connected metropolitan area. This transformation will necessitate a shift in our behaviours, but it is a vital step towards a sustainable future. We don’t expect to drive when visiting cities like London, so why do we expect it in Cork?

Energy Systems

Cork also has unrivalled potential to be a leader in Ireland’s domestic energy production. Leveraging our strategic location, existing infrastructure, and talented workforce, we can drive the growth of the renewable energy sector. Acting now is crucial to seize this opportunity and ensure Cork remains at the forefront of innovation and sustainability. While Cork should not be the only region supporting renewable energy in Ireland, it has to be the first.

Transforming our energy and transport systems will be key drivers in decarbonising our economy and supporting the journey to climate neutrality. This marks an exciting moment for Cork, and we must fully embrace it.

Cork Chamber is investing in making Fitzgerald House a more accessible, inclusive, and sustainable workplace. This commitment to sustainability and inclusion must be mirrored in all our business decisions, reinforcing our position as Ireland’s leading Chamber of Commerce.

Stepping into the role of President is a proud moment, continuing a legacy of active participation in the Cork Chamber. I am committed to working with our dedicated team, board and membership to ensure Cork continues to thrive.

Together, we can ensure Cork remains an attractive place to live, work, and invest in. When our city prospers, we all benefit. With a clear vision and collective effort, we can achieve great things for Cork.

Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber.
Photo: Darragh Kane Photography

Evolving Cork: Embracing our heritage while innovating for the future

As Cork’s urban spaces evolve, it finds itself at a juncture of continuity and innovation. The gradual shift of humanity toward urban centres brings both promise and challenge, urging us to balance progress with respect for our roots.

In the aftermath of global disruptions like the Covid-19 pandemic, Cork has witnessed subtle yet significant changes. Among the buzz of activity, murmurs of discontent have surfaced, stories of neglected storefronts and concerns about anti-social behaviour. Yet, amidst these challenges, there’s a chorus calling for improvement, a desire for a future marked by harmony, community, and sustainability.

Fortunately, the path to this brighter future isn’t a distant dream but a tangible journey, paved by the strides of visionaries at home and abroad. There is much we can do and much that is already being done elsewhere to evolve our urban spaces to better cater to the population and ensure Cork remains attractive on a global scale.

Urban planning thinks big, urban design thinks small

In May, we attended the two-day Academy of Urbanism conference, “Lifelong Neighbourhoods: Planning, Designing, and Delivering the 21st Century Neighbourhood,” where we explored innovative solutions and ideas from the streets of Europe to the emerging Irish urban planning and design approaches. The conference emphasised the importance of creating inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant urban environments that prioritise residents’ well-being.

Here, discussions on digitalisation and three-dimensional spatial planning revealed opportunities for innovation. Cllr. Philippa Slatter from Cambridge introduced the concept of four-dimensional (4D) planning, emphasising the importance of “Invisible Infrastructure” like healthcare, schools, and social networks into urban design. In Trumpington, for example, temporary spaces such as portacabins and vacant shops have blossomed into thriving community hubs. Slatter stressed that public spaces and green areas should be developed early to foster stronger communities, reminding us that while urban planning thinks big, urban design attends to the finer details of human connection.

Another significant discussion was the “UN-Habitat Guide to Sustainable Urban Spaces,” which provides a roadmap for urban life highlighting five key pillars: Compact City, Connected City, Inclusive City, Vibrant City, and Resilient City. This guide aims to help urban actors collaborate and design local solutions to improve the quality of life. These principles echo Cork’s aspirations, emphasising the importance of compact, liveable growth and the promise of the 15-minute city.

Drawing inspiration from Arno Goossens’ insights from Gemeente Amersfoort, the European City of the Year 2023, we uncover the transformative essence of renewal. In the aftermath of World War II, as the city grappled with burgeoning population challenges like obesity and social isolation, a revolutionary concept emerged—the “Healthy Living Together” framework. This visionary initiative breathed life into the urban landscape through the creation of vibrant “life veins,” nurturing physical activity and social cohesion while curbing car dependency, thereby fostering a culture of walking and cycling. Goossens attributed the resounding success of Amersfoort’s revitalisation to three guiding principles: autonomy, a relentless bias for action, and unwavering continuity. These pillars, rooted in public support and collaborative effort, became the cornerstones of the city’s metamorphosis.

Yet, amid progress, there was a note of frustration throughout the conference—a recognition of the slow pace of change. Alan Esslemont, Director General of TG4, encapsulated this sentiment by quoting Bruce Springsteen, “Talk about a dream, try to make it real.”’

In Cork, these multifaceted learnings resonate deeply, offering a mosaic of insights for profound transformation.

What does the future hold for Cork?

Turning our gaze to Cork, we find a city pulsating with history, heritage and pride – a canvas waiting for our collective vision.

Reflecting on these insights, Cork has the potential to adopt similar strategies to evolve its urban spaces. Embracing our multicultural offering through public events, art installations, and inclusive community programmes can foster a sense of belonging and community cohesion. Business and political leaders should champion diversity, equality, and inclusion, actively promoting anti-racism.

Delivering vibrant urban centres is crucial for Cork’s economic and social vitality. Innovative solutions to enabling above-shop living can better utilise our urban centre and make city-centre living a reality. The €350 million Docklands regeneration project is a significant step towards this goal, creating a sustainable neighbourhood with residential, commercial, and recreational spaces designed to foster a high quality of life.

The Beamish and Crawford Quarter redevelopment will enhance the public realm with new pedestrian and cycle bridges, improved streetscapes, and the restoration of heritage lights. These changes will create a pedestrianfriendly and aesthetically pleasing environment, encouraging foot traffic and supporting local businesses. Similarly, the Marina Promenade project will enhance Cork’s waterfront, providing a scenic and accessible space for residents and visitors to gather and be active.

Through these developments, Cork has an opportunity to not only enhance its waterfront but also embrace its rich heritage. Historically, our waterfronts have been neglected, often turned away from instead of embraced. However, by revitalising these spaces, Cork can reclaim its historical connection to the water while creating vibrant, accessible areas for its residents and visitors, bridging the gap between heritage and modernity. The eagerly awaited flood relief schemes and public realm works throughout the city will allow us to look into our riverfront without the fear of the power it holds.

When all the necessary stakeholders unite around a common a vision, remarkable achievements can unfold. The transformation of MacCurtain Street and the wider Victorian Quarter stand as living testaments to the transformative power of coordinated urban development. These revitalised spaces have breathed new life into Cork’s urban landscape. Likewise, initiatives like the “Open Streets” events, occurring throughout the summer months, promote sustainable

transportation and community engagement, offering trafficfree streets filled with lively performances and activities that invigorate the sense of community.

As Cork transitions to a more sustainable economy and aims to be one of the EU’s 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030 innovative cross-cutting projects and initiatives like these will become indispensable pillars of our region’s offering to investors.

Continually evolving Cork’s urban spaces demands collaboration, visionary planning, and a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. Drawing from the rich tapestry of insights gathered from diverse corners of the globe, from the visionary four-dimensional planning concepts to the guiding principles outlined in the UN Guide to Sustainable Urban Spaces, Cork can synthesise these approaches into a cohesive vision. Just as Amersfoort embraced autonomy, proactive action, and continuity, Cork can weave a narrative of vibrant communities and sustainable urban spaces.

The future for Cork is bright. By leveraging existing structures and networks, and with continued investment and collaborative effort it can become a model for sustainable urban development.

Source: United Nations Habitat Guide for Sustainable Development

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Building Resilience: Business Adaptation to Climate Change

“Inaction is not an option. We must make progress on both mitigation and adaptation as quickly as possible,” stated Laura Burke, Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency. This sentiment is at the core of a pressing issue facing businesses today: climate adaptation.

Mitigation involves reducing or preventing the emission of greenhouse gases, whereas adaptation focuses on adjusting to the inevitable impacts of climate change. Climate adaptation often takes a back seat to reducing carbon emissions and pollution, yet both are equally important and inherently linked. This was the key message at the EPA’s annual climate change conference in May.

Scientific evidence shows our climate is changing, with extreme weather events in Ireland projected to increase in severity and frequency over the next 40 years. Even if we meet the 2050 targets, we will still face the consequences of historic emissions. While businesses must continue driving the transition to a low-carbon economy, we must also plan now for a different future to protect people, communities, infrastructure, the economy, and the environment.

On June 13th, the Sustainable Cork Programme hosted a webinar titled “Building Resilience: Business Adaptation to Climate Change.”

Speakers included Peter Medway, Climate Action Coordinator at Cork City Council; Ken Leahy, Associate Director at Arup’s Cork office; and Daniel Schmitz-Remberg, Founder of DSR & Partners: The Climate Adaptation Advisors.

Key Takeaways

Peter Medway highlighted the risks Cork faces from storms, flooding, and heatwaves. Europe, the fastest-warming continent, has seen its three warmest years on record since 2020, with the ten warmest since 2007. Temperatures are rising at about twice the global average rate, and extreme heat events that are rare today are projected to become more common.

According to the EPA 47% of people believe climate change is harming people in Ireland right now. However, many businesses are only beginning their adaptation journey and do not yet prioritise it. Inaction now can lead to a costly future, with climate change impacts projected to cost the global economy $54 trillion by 2040.

Climate adaptation preparations are underway in Cork. Ken Leahy discussed Arup’s projects in Cork focusing on integrated approaches to climate adaptation. Incorporating design elements in urban infrastructure, such as placemaking and biodiversity should be central to adaptation efforts. Working

with nature and valuing biodiversity will become increasingly important for future solutions.

He stressed that adaptation measures will vary by country, region, sector, and scale. Organisations need to radically rethink what is important and how to plan and operate in the future. Placing communities at the heart of the decision-making process is crucial for delivering the necessary change.

Daniel Schmitz-Remberg presented a framework for analysing climate adaptation risks and emphasised that technology, innovation, and AI can play a significant role in developing solutions for climate adaptation. This includes improving the assessment and forecasting of climate risks in urban areas and providing early warnings for extreme events.

The urgency of climate adaptation cannot be overstated. Businesses must recognise that mitigation alone is insufficient. As we confront an increasingly volatile climate, adaptation must become a priority. By integrating adaptation into business strategies and collaborating with nature, businesses can not only mitigate risks but also capitalise on new opportunities in a changing world. Building resilience is not just about survival, it’s about thriving in the face of adversity.

Cork poised to lead Ireland’s offshore wind charge

The imperative to harness our renewable resources and vast maritime area is now widely shared throughout Irish society. By geographical chance, Ireland is situated to fully capitalise on the development of offshore wind sitting on the edge of the Atlantic. With vast coastal resources and ambitious climate goals, Ireland has a golden opportunity to harness these valuable economic resources.

But what makes Cork the ideal location?

Cork boasts a unique edge. It is home to the world’s second-largest natural harbour, existing infrastructure perfect for offshore wind. It also hosts vital components for the development of a mature energy cluster including the National Maritime College of Ireland, research centres, grid access and an existing energy cluster.

Crucially, it is home to the only Irish port with planning permission to build essential structures to support the development of the sector by 2030. This positions Cork as the launchpad for Ireland’s offshore wind ambitions. While Cork shouldn’t be the only region to support offshore renewables, it has to be the first. It is the only one that can.

This has been clearly signalled by government with the publication of the first South Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan (SC-DMAP), Ireland’s first forward maritime spatial plan for offshore wind development that considers biodiversity and other maritime activities.

What needs to happen to get us there?

Logical sense, favourable geographical accidents and good will are not enough to deliver on this transformative industry and harness the advantages and opportunities of a fully developed offshore wind sector. To truly capitalise on this opportunity and derive the full value across the supply chain, generation and end-use through to new innovative sectors a comprehensive plan and investment is needed.

Ireland and Cork must be thinking far ahead on how we will deliver the key enablers across policy and infrastructure to achieve these obligations. While certain policy documents have sought to achieve this such as the Offshore Renewable Energy Future Framework Policy and Powering Prosperity – Ireland’s Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy, there are concerns that these policies alone do not go far enough to instil investor confidence.

Detailed plans for workforce development, grid infrastructure investment and alternative routes to market, a continuous programme of regional DMAPs and consistent policy are crucial for building a largescale offshore wind sector and cementing confidence in the Irish market.

Immediate funding is also essential for critical port infrastructure in Cork Harbour. With the current planning permission expiring in 2025, delays could be catastrophic for Ireland’s offshore wind goals.

The good news?

Significant progress in offshore renewable energy will be a key USP for Cork now and into the future, attracting talent, investment and foreign direct investment. Investors and businesses are increasingly prioritising sustainability, and Cork’s energy leadership will be a major draw.

The urgency of now

The window of opportunity is closing and the time for talking is long past. Decisive action is needed now to unlock Ireland’s full wind energy potential, creating jobs and establishing itself as a leader in the clean energy transition. We are in direct competition with other countries for investment, equipment, talent and suppliers, and it is a contest we cannot win without immediate Government investment.

Cork Offshore Renewable Industry Forum

On June 24th, Cork Chamber proudly announced the launch of the Cork Offshore Renewable Industry Forum (CORIF), a pivotal initiative designed to drive the development of the offshore renewable energy sector in Cork.

Chaired by Catherine Sheridan, this forum will serve as a platform for industry stakeholders to collaborate on identifying and advocating for the infrastructure and policy needs essential for Cork Harbour and the wider region to fully realise their potential in generating and harnessing offshore renewable energy.

Cork has a unique opportunity to lead in the offshore renewable energy space. By uniting industry voices through CORIF, stakeholders can effectively advocate for the necessary policies and infrastructure to support large-

scale projects. This forum is poised to play a crucial role in ensuring that Cork Harbour becomes a powerhouse for renewable energy innovation and development.

While there is a number of forums in this space, this is the first to serve as a collective voice for the industry’s needs and concerns—an essential element for the development of offshore renewable energy in Cork Harbour and Ireland. CORIF will ensure that industry perspectives are communicated effectively to decision-makers and key stakeholders.

Pictured above Cork Offshore Renewable Industry Forum members: Moira Walsh, ESB; Catherine Sheridan, Chair of CORIF; Thomas McHugh, Orsted; Dave Ronayne, Mainport Holdings; Cormac Gebruers, DP Energy; Ciaran Sheehan, Green Rebel; Val Cummins, Simply Blue; Cathal McSweeney and Conor Healy of Cork Chamber. Photo: Darragh Kane Photography

CORIF Members:

BayWa r.e.; Bord Gáis Energy; DP Energy; ESB; Gas Networks Ireland; Green Rebel; Mainport Holdings; Ørsted; Simply Blue and Statkraft.

All routes led to leadership role

In the latest in this Next Gen Leadership series, Deloitte Partner, John Kelly, speaks with Shane McDermott, Financial Controller at Fota Wildlife Park. They discuss Shane’s unique career journey, work ethic and motivation, mentors, and leadership style. Shane and John also reflect on the varied role of a Financial Controller at a wildlife park and look forward to exciting developments ongoing at Fota Wildlife Park.

Early career in logistics the right route to leadership

John began by asking Shane to speak a little about his early career and how that prepared him for his current leadership role within Fota Wildlife Park. Shane said by working in his father’s logistics company on weekends as a teenager provided him with a strong work ethic from an early age. At 21-years old Shane joined his father’s company in an operations role and after just two years moved into the Transport Operations Manager’s role. This role eventually gave him oversight of routing, servicing, and the general day-to-day operating of circa thirty-five vehicles and trailers. It was in this role, while in meetings with senior management, Shane realised that understanding how only one side of the business worked, left him at

a disadvantage to progress beyond transport operations and wanted to understand the financial aspect of the business. Shane made the decision to study at CIT (now MTU) and gain a degree in accounting, which set Shane on the route to become the leader he is today.

Balancing study and work

John asked Shane how he found the transition from working in warehouses, to driving artic trucks, to managing the transport operations and to end up in the finance side of the business. Shane explained that during the degree he worked 2am to 10am and attended CIT from 6pm to 10pm. In this time, he was also shadowing the accountant on site to gain further knowledge to supplement his college work. Shane said it was a challenging number of years, but he

enjoyed the course and the work, so it was ultimately rewarding.

Following completion of the degree Shane started preparing the accounts for the company and began his CPA qualifications. It was Shane’s desire to understand the business as a whole, that drove him to undertake the degree with the support of the company.


Following his time working in finance for a logistic company in 2017 Shane saw an opportunity to work with the Cork University Foundation which was the fundraising arm of University College Cork. Here Shane received some key advice that would be the cornerstone of his leadership style today. Dr. Jean van Sinderen-Law, a mentor of Shane’s in UCC, provided him with some advice

while he was dealing with an operational problem. Shane explained he had gone straight from a family business to UCC so may not have been as well rounded as some of his more experienced colleagues. He sought advice from Jean and, with a smile, Jean said that ‘I was worrying about things that I had no control over and that I did not have a decision to make at the time, so just to focus on the things that you can control and work on them’.

Shane says that he still uses this advice today and in turn now provides the same advice to those that confide in him when they are struggling with a challenge.

Following the birth of his son in 2017 and to be closer to home, Shane applied for a role in the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Ringaskiddy and after a short period became Finance Manager for a joint venture company based in the NMCI, half owned by CIT (MTU), and at the time was the main commercial arm of the NMCI.

Diversity of experience the right road to Fota

John noted at this point that Shane had a gained a broad skillset from his roles to date and asked how Shane thought this would help him with his current role. Shane acknowledged that it was his diverse career history that made him the right fit for his current role in Fota. He notes that moving from a relatively informal family business to a not-forprofit charity in UCC and onto the commercial side of a national college, provided him with great learning experiences in governance, in particular.

He explains that while interviewing for the role he had guessed that he may be one of the only candidates that had taken such an alternative route, and this provided him with a broad range of experience that is required to succeed in his current role.

Leadership in Fota

Shane says that no two days are the same at Fota Wildlife Park. His role goes beyond just the financial side of the business, and one aspect of the role is the duty management of the wildlife park.

John said he had noticed this when he was at Fota recently on a family day out, that he met Shane out on the park grounds with a walkie-talkie and he

thought to himself it was something he did not expect to see the Financial Controller doing.

Shane elaborates by explaining that on the general duty manager weekend role, thousands of visitors go through the park gates and responsibility for their enjoyment, safety and experience falls to him and the wider team in Fota Wildlife Park.

Shane attributes the success of Fota down to the calibre of the people working there. He says it is a very varied role, not for him only but for many onsite. When dealing with the public across a vast area, staff must be ready to provide the right service when the customer needs it, and he must act as support to colleagues across the Park. Shane makes a point to note that he does not have any dealings with any of the animals onsite and that there is a highly trained group of professionals in the animal care team.

Leadership Style

John then asks Shane about his leadership style and how he approaches leadership. As a leader, Shane says he is very lucky to have a great team in Fota Wildlife Park and whatever the situation he has the relevant trained personnel on hand. Much of his leadership is oversight and to make sure his direct reports, and many others, have the resources they need to fulfil their roles successfully.

“My style of leadership can be very situational but for the majority of the time I believe in a coaching style. I believe I set an appropriate pace or tempo and do not micromanage time, all while making it clear that each one of us has a duty to fulfil our qualitative and quantitative responsibilities in full. I try to lead by example as I am not the most vocal and do not have the most profound use of vocabulary. My work ethic is one thing that I try to ensure can never be questioned and I am not afraid of making decisions as and when I need to.”

He says that the Finance Team is a small team of four people and he is very lucky to have such great people to work with.


John said he noted Shane was clearly a motivated person from working with his father from an early age, working straight after school, and then going

on to college to go after the career he wanted, so he asks what Shane’s motivation is. Shane says he has never had an issue in finding motivation, he said it might be a boring accountant’s answer but what motivates him most would be security, stability, having a purpose and a challenge.

Shane also said his parents have always instilled a good work ethic in him and that has stayed with him always.

The future and exiting time ahead in


As the discussion draws to a close, John looks to the future and asks Shane what is coming up for him and Fota Wildlife Park. Shane explains that Fota have recently completed the sustainably built Education, Conservation & Research Centre (ECRC), featuring a 260-seat lecture theatre, and which was part-funded by the Government via the Office of Public Works (OPW). In line with Fota’s 10 year strategic development plan to become one of the top 10 zoological parks in Europe, the CapEx for 2024 is focussed on animal welfare and utilisation of greener energy, including recently started projects such as the Giraffe House refurbishment and rollout of Photovoltaic Panels around the park.

Shane says “Based on B&A research, we estimate that spending by holidaymakers to Fota Wildlife is estimated to be worth €90 million annually to the local economy” he adds “The Government have been a great support in providing grants to help complete essential infrastructural projects, such as the South Sea Wall repair.”

Shane closes by saying that it is a very exciting time for him, and the scale of the developments provides him with great learning opportunities. He says that experience is the most important thing on his own career path and he has taken the journey less travelled. He then jokes “there are not many accountants that have an artic licence”.

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Pedalling Change - the Story of Sign & Cycle

For nearly 40 years, a unique social enterprise in Ballinlough Cork has been quietly weaving a story of inclusion and innovation. Deaf Enterprises is not your typical furniture restoration and bicycle repair shop. Here, the focus goes beyond this; it’s about creating opportunities for the Deaf community.

Founded in 1986 Deaf Enterprises was set up by Father Bill Clarke and others, with a mission to bridge the gap in employment opportunities for Deaf individuals. It has now become the largest employer of Deaf and hard of hearing people in the whole of the country. By providing a work environment that prioritises visual communication and fosters a strong sense of community, the organisation has become a vital resource to its employees. Having grown from 10 employees to 38 in the last ten years, it provides not only a place of work, but a social and community hub for the skilled crafts people that work here.

In April 2021, whilst scaling growth, the opportunity arose for a new pilot project funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), in conjunction with the Department of Transport (DoT), to develop a scheme for the provision of high quality up-cycled bicycles and e-bikes as an alternative to the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme model. Set up and managed in conjunction with Cork Community Bikes, the project is more

than sustainable bikes, it aims to be a hub of innovation, promoting the use of bikes either through donation, reduced costs or collaboration with organisations who provide support to people who may not otherwise have access to bikes. The Sign & Cycle pilot project objectives are to promote cycling as a better mode of transport, exercise, and bike reuse for environmental improvement. The program also focuses on supplying recycled bicycles to schools, direct provision centres, and other community locations. It includes employment and work placement programs to meet specific targets, as well as education and training programs leading to qualifications in bike maintenance and mechanics. This project has allowed Deaf Enterprises to employ a further 5 people.

“We offer a space where everyone is welcome from any background, this is a supported work environment that allows a safe and secure workplace that many consider a home from home support,” explains Claire O’Mahony, the Employment Assistance Officer in Deaf Enterprises.

“Our communication relies heavily on sign language and visual cues, creating a comfortable and empowering environment for Deaf employees to excel. My colleagues work speaks for itself, revamping and giving life to preloved items of furniture and bikes, where we always say “don’t lose it, re use it” and through this mantra we contribute to the Circular Economy and stop 1000s of pieces of furniture and hundreds of bikes each year from going to landfill.

The success of Deaf Enterprises and Sign and Cycle extends beyond its workshop walls. The organisation provides crucial vocational training, helping Deaf individuals develop valuable skills and build confidence in the workforce. Deaf Enterprises serves as place of hope and awareness, demonstrating the power of social enterprises to create lasting change. For nearly four decades, they have been stitching together not just furniture, but a brighter future for the Deaf community, one reupholstered chair at a time. Now with their new project Sign and Cycle, Deaf Enterprises have been able to rotate

Our communication relies heavily on sign language and visual cues, creating a comfortable and empowering environment for deaf employees to excel. My colleagues work speaks for itself, revamping and giving life to preloved items of furniture and bikes, where we always say “don’t lose it, re use it”

the wheels of the circular economy with this new innovative bike project promoting a healthier route for future transportation in Ireland.

In 2024, Sign & Cycle has expanded its impact through several key initiatives. They have created 13 short videos on bike maintenance, translated into Irish Sign Language, and uploaded them to social media platforms, including YouTube, to provide accessible educational content for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

Additionally, Sign and Cycle have hosted community workshops in Cork to teach bike maintenance and promote cycling, fostering inclusivity among Deaf and hearing

participants. The project aims to implement further sustainability programs to promote cycling as an eco-friendly mode of transportation. These initiatives seek to enhance community involvement, provide valuable skills, and encourage sustainable practices. Ultimately, we want to enable people to find an alternative path away from landfill by providing sustainable and green solutions for furniture and bikes.

If you would like to add to the circular economy by getting your furniture recovered or by donating a bike to our workshop, please contact us on 021 4294111 or

From Equality to Prosperity: The Impact of Inclusive Employment

We are currently experiencing a period of near full employment. This economic milestone, while indicative of a robust job market, presents both opportunities and challenges, especially in terms of fostering inclusive employment and leveraging workforce diversity. In this context, it is vital to recognise the significance of inclusive employment for our regions continued economic prosperity and social cohesion.

To sustain economic growth and meet labour demands, it is essential for employers to broaden their recruitment strategies and tap into underutilised talent pools. This includes people with differing abilities, ethnic minorities, and other marginalised groups to name a few. By promoting inclusive employment, businesses can access a wider range of skills and experiences, ensuring that no potential talent is overlooked.

On a broader scale, inclusive employment contributes to economic resilience and social cohesion. By providing equal employment opportunities to all segments of society, inclusive practices help reduce inequality and poverty. Furthermore, diverse and inclusive workplaces can help break down social barriers, fostering a more cohesive and harmonious society.

The importance of inclusive employment cannot be overstated. By embracing diversity and ensuring equal access to job opportunities, businesses can unlock untapped potential, drive innovation, and build stronger connections with their customers and communities. Inclusive employment is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for Cork’s continued economic success and social well-being.

Celebrating Excellence

The Joe Gantly Prize in Engineering

The Joe Gantly Prize in Engineering, established by Cork Chamber, is a prestigious award that honours the late Joe Gantly, a distinguished Civil Engineering graduate. Gantly’s illustrious career was marked by significant contributions to both industry and education within the Cork region, leaving an indelible mark on the community.

The Prize in Engineering serves as a tribute to Gantly’s profound impact on Cork’s business community and his close association with UCC. This annual award is presented to the top-performing student in the Work Placement module of the BE (Hons) programs at UCC, recognising outstanding academic and practical achievements.

This year, congratulations are in order for Kate O’ Callaghan, who has emerged as the winner of the Joe Gantly Prize for her outstanding achievement in Energy Engineering. This accolade is a testament to her hard work, dedication, and excellence in their engineering studies and work placement experience. Additionally, recognition is due to the runners-up Ethan Hussy, Chloe Ferris and Gregory Paul. Their performance exemplifies the high standards of the engineering programs at UCC and the spirit of innovation and leadership that Joe Gantly championed.

This prize not only honours the memory of a remarkable individual but also inspires future generations of engineers to strive for excellence. It reinforces the strong ties between academia and industry in Cork, promoting a culture of excellence, innovation, and leadership.

The judging panel included Dr Sarah O’Connell, SEFSResearch & Innovation Manager, Naoimh Frawley, Cork Chamber- Director of People, Operations & Governance, and Dr Richard Kavanagh, Vice -Head of School of Engineering.

Connecting People & Places

In a recent landmark mission, a delegation of business leaders and politicians from Cork joined with those from across the island to discuss key areas for an allisland approach to economic development. Led by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Cork Chamber, and Dublin Chamber, this series of events marked the first collaborative initiative of its kind, focusing on enhancing connectivity and fostering economic growth. The meetings included a briefing at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, a site visit to Belfast Grand Central Station, a business and innovation cluster discussion, and a ministerial round-table with Economy Minister Deirdre Hargey, Infrastructure Minister, John O’Dowd and Minister Dara Calleary, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation.

Conor Healy, Cork Chamber CEO said, “Northern Ireland’s unique position as part of the UK internal market while, at the same time, having unique access to the EU’s single market of nearly 450 million people provides a solid opportunity for growth. Enhanced rail services, improved port connectivity and the reestablishment of the Belfast-Cork flight are essential to harnessing opportunities in trade, tourism, education and innovation. By building relationships and connectivity, it will ensure that Belfast and the surrounding areas, Dublin and Cork can prosper and grow together, using these unrivalled opportunities as key economic engines of the island.”

Together, the Northern Ireland, Cork and Dublin Chambers are focused on progressing five key aspirations:

• Higher-Speed Rail Cork-Dublin-Belfast: Aiming to create a seamless higher-speed rail link that will significantly reduce travel times and enhance regional connectivity.

• Restoration of Cork-Belfast Flights: Restoring domestic flights between Belfast and Cork will enhance business and tourism links, making the island of Ireland a more attractive destination for visitors and investors.

• Funding Allocation for Ports: Securing investments to future-proof the three major ports, ensuring they can support economic growth and industrial advancements.

• All-Island Innovation Clusters: Promoting collaboration between industry and education to foster innovation and create competitive clusters across the island.

• Enhancing Tourism Links: Developing strong tourism links by harnessing regional strengths, place branding, and evolving the story of Ireland to represent a modern island

Upcoming Events

For more information & bookings visit



Join us for Cork Chamber’s Golf Classic at the stunning Lee Valley Golf Club, just 15 minutes from Cork City.

Designed by Ryder Cup star Christy O’Connor Jnr and ranked among Ireland’s top 100 courses by Golf Digest, Lee Valley provides a picturesque setting for a memorable day.

This 4-Person Team event welcomes both seasoned pros and novice players, offering a perfect blend of play and networking.

Each participant will receive a goodie bag and have the chance to win fantastic prizes, including a $33,000 Bucket List Golf Trip to Pebble Beach, California, through our Hole in One Charity Challenge with O’Donovan Baker LLP Solicitors.



Our next Business Breakfast will feature Professor Maggie Cusack, President, Munster Technological University.

Along with being the first President of Munster Technological University (MTU) she has held significant advisory roles, including Interdisciplinary Advisor for REF2021 and Vice President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

She is a member of the Cork Development Forum, and the Cork Airport Development Council.

Join us to hear about the role MTU plays in nurturing talent to meet the evolving demands of industry along with their commitment to innovation and collaboration to drive economic and technological advancement.


HR Barometer Briefing & Panel Discussion

In association with Adare

Our HR Forum gathered on the 16th May to gain insights into key issues, opportunities and challenges facing HR Practitioners. Sarah Fagan, Managing Director, Adare moderated an expert panel with Charlie Dineen, Group Director of HR, The Fota Collection, Miriam Manning, Director of HR, TELUS International and Eric Nolan, Head of HR, Cork Airport.

Networking at Noon

Networking at Noon took place on the 29th May and brought over 70 attendees to OfficeMaster’s impressive showroom, providing the opportunity for members to network while getting a preview of their new offering.

Industry Insights: Planning for Pension Auto-Enrolment

In association with Cork Chamber Skillnet

The brand new Industry Insights series kicked off on the 30th May. This session featured John Kearney, Director, Provest Pension Consultants who provided an update on the recently published automatic enrolment retirement savings bill.

Mark Flavin & Ryan Murphy, 3B1, Ewa Bona & Emma O’Halloran, Staffline Recruitment Ltd.
Dave McCarthy, OfficeMaster, Conor Healy, Cork Chamber, Jacqui Kielthy & David Cooke, OfficeMaster, Annie FitzGibbon, Cork Chamber, Patrick Murray, OfficeMaster.
Eric Nolan, Cork Airport, Sarah Fagan, Adare, Naoimh Frawley, Cork Chamber, Miriam Manning, TELUS International, Charlie Dineen, The Fota Collection.
Panel Discussion.
Annie FitzGibbon, Cork Chamber, John Kearney, Provest Pension Consultants, Garrett O’Rourke, Cork Chamber Skillnet.

Business Breakfast

In association with RDJ LLP & Media Partner Irish Examiner

Anne Graham, CEO, National Transport Authority

This Business Breakfast took place on the 24th April. Anne Graham provided a comprehensive overview of the Cork metropolitan area transport strategy and the multi-modal plans for Cork.

This Business Breakfast took place on the 22nd May. Evelyn Moynihan shared the story of Kilkenny Group and provided an overview of their sustainability agenda and plans to grow internationally.

Thought Leaders Council

Our Thought Leaders Council took place on the 20th June. This event featured an update from our public affairs team along with an informative presentation from John McCarthy, Chief Economist, Department of Finance who provided insights into the current economic landscape, future projections, and their implications for the business community in Cork.

Finola McCarthy, RDJ LLP, Ronan Murray, President Cork Chamber, Anne Graham, National Transport Authority, Conor Healy, Cork Chamber, Lisa Coughlan, Irish Examiner.
Evelyn Moynihan, CEO, Kilkenny Design
Anne Graham, National Transport Authority.
Conor Healy, Cork Chamber, Karen O’Donoghue, Irish Examiner, Evelyn Moynihan, Kilkenny Design, Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber, Jamie Olden, RDJ LLP.
Colette Quinn, Real Insights, Jackie Quinn, QCF Corporate Finance, Leigh Gillen, Leigh Gillen Events.
Cathal McSweeney, Cork Chamber, John McCarthy, Chief Economist, Department of Finance, Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber, Conor Healy, Cork Chamber.

Talent Trailblazers: Navigating a Competitive Landscape

In partnership with Employment & Recruitment Federation

Cork Chamber at The Cork Proms

This event took place on the 12th June and featured an evening of music & mingling at Cork Opera House.

Members had the opportunity to catch-up at an exclusive pre-networking reception before enjoying a wonderful arrangement of performances of classic Irish tunes performed by the Cork Opera House Orchestra.

This event took place on the 6th June with the Employment & Recruitment Federation.

Rob Horgan, President, Cork Chamber, and Ed Heffernan, Barden & ERF Treasurer provided an update on Cork business.

Keynote speakers included Tom Hadley, Hadley’s Comment, Jack Kennedy, Indeed and Cora Staunton, AFLW Player, Pundit RTÉ Sport & Public Speaker.

Powering AI - Unlocking the Power of GenAI for Businesses in Cork

In partnership with Dell Technologies

This event took place on the 18th June and featured leading AI experts and industry leaders as they shared their advice and experiences of using AI for business.

Attendees gained critical insights from an expert panel featuring Kevin O’Leary, Dassault Systèmes, Neil Bowden, Dell Technologies, Avril Power, Giyst, James Callanan, Johnson Controls, moderated by one of Ireland’s leading tech journalists, Emmet Ryan.

Jack Kennedy, Hadley’s Comment, Geraldine King, ERF, Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber, Jennifer Doyle, Contracting Plus, Bryan Hyland, Morgan McKinley, Cora Staunton, Public Speaker.
Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mary Rose Desmond, Eibhlín M. Gleeson, Cork Opera House, Rob Horgan, President Cork Chamber.
Neil Bowden, Dell Technologies, Annie FitzGibbon, Cork Chamber, Colman O’Flynn, Dell Technologies, Conor Healy, Cork Chamber.

Learn more

Expanding International Ties

Ireland Gateway to Europe 2024

A core focus of Cork Chamber’s work is to expand and develop our international relationships and to promote Cork as a destination for business, investment, talent, and collaboration overseas. Our work in the USA takes place predominantly on either coastline, due to historic connections. For that reason, visiting Austin and Atlanta as part of the 2024 Ireland Gateway to Europe mission was a great opportunity to make new business connections and spread the great story Cork has to tell, before meeting old friends in Boston.

Ireland Gateway To Europe is a not-for-profit collective of Irish service providers who showcase Ireland as a premier European investment location. Each year the group travels to America to meet with companies from both sides of the Atlantic looking to set up base in Ireland.

While Cork Chamber has long standing links with Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, it was fruitful to have the opportunity to meet with Metro Atlanta Chamber and Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for the first time. These meetings offer invaluable opportunities to update on recent positive developments in Cork, including the narrative shift on housing.

As always, Team Ireland, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Enterprise Ireland and the IDA were to the

fore in supporting the activities and meetings of the visiting delegation across all three cities. Time and time again, we witness first hand the great job our government officials and state agencies do in representing Ireland overseas in laying the foundations for greater trade between ourselves and other territories.

Maximising the value of our business, cultural and educational links is always important and this week in the US certainly advanced that agenda.

Finance Roundtable with EU Commissioner

Cork Chamber and the Cork Financial Services Forum received Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, at Fitzgerald House in April. The Commissioner was welcomed Ronan Murray, (Cork Chamber President at the time); Cork Financial Services Forum, Chair, Karen Conboy and Chamber CEO, Conor Healy for a roundtable discussion with the Cork Financial Servies Forum.

The meeting offered a platform for forum members to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the International Financial Services (IFS) sector in Cork, Ireland, Europe and beyond. The meeting was very productive with topics such as sustainable finance, skills and talent, financial literacy and education, regionalisation and legislative priorities all touched upon. It also presented the opportunity to provide an overview of the local IFS industry and to tell the fantastic story of the wider Cork economy, including the great ambition the business community has for the region.

The European Elections, which took place in June, signalled the end of the term for this Commission and for Commissioner McGuinness in her role. This meeting afforded Cork Chamber the chance to thank the Commissioner for her time and congratulate her on her successful term in office.

Culinary Delights

Cork food and drink businesses fly the flag in Birmingham at one of the world’s largest food and drink events

Some of Cork’s finest food and drink companies exhibited at the Birmingham Food and Drink Expo, one of the globe’s most prestigious culinary events. The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) at Cork Chamber’s partnership with the three Cork Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City and County, to organise the Food and Drink Mission to Birmingham, was a resounding success. This collaborative initiative brought together eleven food and drink companies from Cork to showcase their products at the Food & Drink Expo. Running over three days at Birmingham’s NEC, this event attracted more than 25,000 visitors and 1,200 exhibitors, providing exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their products on an international platform.

Participating producers shared their experiences of the mission. Claire Keane, founder of Second Street Bakeshop, commended its organisation, stating “the Birmingham Food and Drink Mission was a well organised trip and trade show. Being around eleven other seasoned Cork companies was insightful and valuable in itself. It was good to test out our new plant-based toffee brittles on a wider audience and gain insightful feedback. Premium Irish-made products have certainly earned their place abroad.”

Cycle Connect

A Dutch cycling mission to Cork

A special delegation from the Netherlands, including 16 businesses, spanning various aspects of the cycling sector, ranging from bicycle suppliers to infrastructure designers joined a mission to share their expertise and forge new partnerships. The Dutch cycling mission to Cork event, was organised by the EEN at Cork Chamber in partnership with the Cork Transport and Mobility Forum and the Dutch Embassy, and brought innovation and collaboration to the city.

This visit aimed to promote relationships and opportunities for collaboration between Irish stakeholders and leading Dutch cycling companies, with a focus on active travel solutions.

It came amidst an exciting time for Cork, with numerous greenways under construction and in the planning across the county, and the newly announced plan by Cork City Council for the next phase of the Glanmire to City Cycle Route. The implementation of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy is also set to deliver greater public and sustainable transport options to commuters in the coming years.

Robert Barrett, co-founder of Rebel City Distillery also highlighted the positive aspects of the trade show, saying “it was a great opportunity to showcase our products at the Food and Drink Expo mission, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices and Cork Chamber. It allowed us to see what trends are out there, make connections with fellow producers and meet potential buyers.”

There is a huge opportunity to continue to grow the food and drink industry, develop new international connections and identify new markets for our producers to expand into. Through collaborations like this between the EEN at Cork Chamber and the Local Enterprise Offices, Cork based companies like the Second Street Bakeshop have the chance to expand their reach and tap into new markets. The success of this mission highlights the importance of such initiatives in promoting Cork food and drink businesses on a global scale.

Nora Dessing, the Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland delivered an address at the event, outlining that as cycling becomes more vital in transforming Cork’s transportation system, there will be an enhanced need for companies which can provide the equipment and develop the necessary infrastructure. As the Netherlands emerges as the sixth largest market for Irish goods, this mission further strengthened the ties between our two regions. The appointment of Dr Val Cummins as the new Dutch Honorary Consul for Cork marked a significant milestone in the connection between Cork and the Netherlands, setting the stage for continued collaboration and growth in the future.

New Partners 2024

In recent months we welcomed the following members to the Partner Programme.

At Arlo, we’re passionate about creating innovative and reliable solutions that help people protect what matters most to them. Our team is dedicated to delivering products that exceed our customers’ expectations, while always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of protection technology. We believe that everyone deserves to feel safe and secure, whether they’re at home or away, and we’re committed to providing our customers with the peace of mind they need to live their lives without worry.

Arlo’s deep expertise in AI- and CV-powered analytics, cloud services, user experience, product design, and innovative wireless and RF connectivity enables the delivery of a seamless, smart security experience for Arlo users that is easy to set up and interact with every day.

At NetApp, we embrace all things cloud. We build services that manage, connect, and automate. We combine unified data storage, integrated data services and CloudOps solutions to make data infrastructure more seamless, more dynamic, and higher performing than ever before.

Our customers rely on us to make their apps faster, their data centers run better, their business reach new levels of excellence.

At BayWa r.e we rethink energy - how it is produced, stored and can be best used for the future of our planet. BayWa r.e. has been active in Ireland since 2019, aiming to directly impact Ireland’s energy transition through its activities and innovations in wind, solar and energy storage.

As a responsible developer, we work closely with communities and local stakeholders to develop our renewable energy projects. We are proud members of Wind Energy Ireland, Energy Storage Ireland, Irish Solar Energy Association and the German-Irish Hydrogen Council.

Zurich has been managing employee benefits in Ireland for over 40 years with hundreds of Irish and international businesses trusting us with the retirement and risk needs of their employees.

Whether choosing the Zurich Master Trust or another pension arrangement our expertise across scheme governance, investments, member engagement and administration is why employers trust us.

Working in partnership with you and your employees, we will ensure that setting up and managing your employee benefits is seamless, efficient, and pain-free. Whether it’s for a large multinational organisation or a local indigenous business, we can design an employee benefit solution that’s tailored to you.

Trust Excellence

Recently, Zurich hosted their annual Employee Benefit Conference “A Tradition of Trust”. They examined the key challenges facing employees and employers including Economic, Cyber, Artificial Intelligence, Sustainability and Governance factors, with insights from guest speakers from Sherry FitzGerald, Grafton Group, Enable Ireland and Rethink Ireland.

Over 180 guests attended the conference which was aimed at Finance Directors, HR Directors and employers, some of whom wish to continue to operate a lay trustee board and others who opted to participate in a Master Trust. Zurich’s Master Trust is one of the largest in Ireland, with consistent active engagement with employers and their employees and outstanding investment fund performance*.

* Awarded Investment Excellence in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and Investment Provider Excellence in 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023 by Brokers Ireland.

Zurich Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Zurich - Driving better member outcomes

Retirement can be a complex concept for many employees. At Zurich, we recognise that different employees need different levels of support, so our approach can be tailored for you.

Zurich Connect

Zurich Connect is a unique interactive employee retirement portal, which we will tailor to your company. With helpful videos, interactive tools and calculators, as well as a library of relevant documentation, Zurich Connect will transform how employees view their company pension.

Insightful resources for employees

Our Pension Matters magazine is designed for members of group pension schemes. Its objective is to empower your employees with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their pension options and encourage them to take action – like making additional contributions for example.

Zurich’s online portal

Keeping track of how your pension savings are performing is an essential element of our proposition. All your employees will be able to access their own secure, personalised portal to track their current savings, their contributions, what their future retirement pot might project to, how their funds are performing and much more. Employers and HR can keep oversight of key metrics to track the level of employee engagement.

Workplace information and support

It’s our people that will always make the difference for your employees. Employees are best served with a mix of communication methods; while online works for some, others prefer to hear first-hand and face-to-face. Zurich’s Customer Relationship Team will organise employee engagement sessions for your employees.

If you would like an invitation to Zurich’s next Employee Benefits Conference, or to hear further insights into the Zurich Master Trust or single trust proposition, contact:

Maurice Ryan, Corporate Client Director, Cork, or +353 86 852 1440

Clodagh O’Connell, Corporate Client Director, Cork, clodagh.o’ or +353 128 1080

Rose Leonard, Director of Zurich Ireland Master Trust Dac or +353 87 772 4982

New Members Corner

We welcome the following new

Audio/Media/Publishing/Video Production

Great Island Productions Ltd

We are an innovative TV company, developing shows across drama, animation, documentary and entertainment. Our focus is on bringing stories from Cork to the world.


Building Contractors/Providers


GEDA are responsible for delivering complex projects across civil, residential, educational and commercial sectors.


Business Continuity Services

Business for Biodiversity Ireland

Business for Biodiversity Ireland is an initiative to help businesses assess their impacts and dependencies on nature, and act to mitigate risks and maximise resilience.


Mary Hayden

Mary Hayden (FCMA), the author of ‘’From the Ground Up - 10 Basic Building Blocks for Business.’’ Certified in Digital Transformation and LEAN Six Sigma.



Boardmatch Ireland

Boardmatch is a registered charity that connects individuals who want to volunteer with charities that have board vacancies.



Rainbow Club Cork

Rainbow Club Cork is a community-based charity that offers support to neurodivergent families and is one of its kind.



Athena Pharmaceuticals

We work as a partner of choice for pharmaceutical manufacturers, who seek to grow their Irish and EU presence.





jumpAgrade provides targeted academic, and wellbeing supports to second level students via our online platform. We help every student to fulfil their potential.



Airtec Compressors

Airtec Compressors is a family-based Cork company that provides compressed air services and ancillaries to local and multinational businesses around Ireland.


Hiwin Systems Limited

Project Planning Engineers and Quantity Surveyors


Mercury Engineering

Mercury is the European leader in construction solutions. We build complex engineering and construction projects for the world’s leading corporations in Life Sciences and Advanced Technology.


Event Management

Careers Unlimited

Jobs Expo Cork, Limerick, Galway & Dublin W:

Leigh Gillen Events

A full-service event agency helping companies to link events, brand & sponsorship with strategy & company goals. W:

Financial Services/Pensions/Investment

OptionsCard is Ireland’s newest multi-choice digital gift card. Instantly delivered, giftcard balance valid for 5 years, no registration required and no fees.



Gather and Gather

A modern workplace and event catering company who serve seasonal, local offerings for our customers.


Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream - making real Irish Ice cream since 2000


Healthcare Provider

HR Executive Development Ltd

PrimaHealth is an award-winning online mental health care provider for Irish teenagers, (12-19 years), experiencing anxiety. W:


The Brehon Hotel 4 Star Luxury Hotel in Killarney W:

Management Consultants


Climeaction take the carbon out of business with a return on investment. W:

Pebble Business Transformation

Pebble, part of Argon & Co, are Ireland’s leading specialist in business design and transformation. We are specifically orientated to work with companies preparing for, or going through, periods of transformation. W:

The Business Training Hub Limited

Providing comprehensive business consultancy, mentoring & training solutions from start-ups to established corporates. W:


NuLumenTek Limited

NuLumenTek design, manufacture and supply lighting systems for all applications, they specialise in retrofitting existing lighting systems generating savings of over 70% in energy.


New Members Breakfast

Our recent New Members Breakfasts took place in Fitzgerald House and The Metropole Hotel. Our newest members received an overview of their membership benefits, had the opportunity to pitch their business and met the Chamber team.

Medical Services/Supplies

NeutraPharma Europe Limited specialises in developing and distributing in-vitro devices, focusing on health and wellness solutions through research, innovation, and high-quality formulations.


Property Developers

Hallmark Developments

Hallmark Developments is driven by our mix of practical and professional expertise which includes project managers, building surveyors, engineers and architects. W:


Victoria’s Antiques

We stock the Finest Jewellery, Silverware & Giftware for our private & corporate clients nationwide. Call into our store to view our magnificent collection.


Representative Body

Ireland Japan Association

Fostering strong economic and cultural ties between Ireland and Japan.


Services Contractors

Precision Electrical Services

Precision Electrical Services Established in 2006. Our team at Precision Electrical Services provide clients with high-quality electrical services.


Software/Software Services

CompuCal Calibration Solutions Ltd

CompuCal’s SaaS platform for calibration & asset management needs within life science and service companies.


Software/Software Services

Kwayga is the fastest supplier-sourcing engine in Europe for supermarket buyers to cut sourcing from months to minutes, using game-changing technology.




ENSO is an online platform for businesses which enables them to create and implement their own sustainability strategy, manage their initiatives and transparently communicate their sustainability act.


Polar IceTech

Dry Ice Blasting Specialists. Dry Ice Blasting, also known as Dry Ice Cleaning or Dry Ice Blast Cleaning, is a technically innovative process which offers an unparalleled cleaning solution to industry.



Techpoint Wholesale

We distribute mobile phone accessories to retailers and e-tailers across Ireland and Europe, offering competitive pricing to businesses and direct consumers.



Boiler Angel

Boiler Angel is the highest rated boiler and heating service in Cork City & County, run by qualified engineer Ben O’Sullivan, who specialises in domestic boiler installations



Go Power

Go Power is one of the leading electricity suppliers to the industrial and commercial sector in Ireland. With competitive pricing and exceptional customer service, businesses all over Ireland are switching members to Go Power for a better and cheaper source of 100% Green Renewable Energy.



We are the trusted electricity suppliers in Ireland to provide clean energy to thousands of businesses, homes and farms across the country.


Web Design


Awescape is a web design agency specialising in immersive storytelling websites and landing pages. We help innovative, growth-driven companies captivate audiences and amp up high-end sales.



Solmaz Suppliers Limited

Supplying Irish businesses nationally with catering, packaging and grocery items. Feel the difference in the convenience and efficiency of our services.


sponsored by

Conor Healy, CEO and Annie FitzGibbon, Director of Member Services Cork Chamber with Mark Flavin, 3B1.
Mary Hayden, Mary Hayden Business & Operations; Deirdre Griffin, Business Development Manager Cork Chamber and Noella Carroll, Pebble Business Transformation.
Cork Chamber welcomes attendee to New Members Breakfast.

BioMarin marks International MPS Awareness Day

To mark International MPS Awareness Day, an important date to highlight the rare and often unknown mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) conditions, BioMarin welcomed speakers Cezy Focsa and Mary Boushel from MPS Ireland to their site at Shanbally, Co Cork. BioMarin places an important emphasis on patient connection and meeting people living with rare conditions inspires and reinforces the organisation’s commitment to relentlessly pursue bold science to translate genetic discoveries into new medicines that advance the future of human health.Pictured at the BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. facility in Shanbally, Co. Cork are Maria Meehan PhD, Director of EUCAN Patient Affairs, BioMarin; Conor Delaney, Site Lead and Vice President of Shanbally Manufacturing Operations, BioMarin; Mary Boushel, The Irish MPS Society with Cezy Focsa.

Merck hosts annual Schools Science Competition

Marsh McLennan open new Cork office

Marsh McLennan, the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people, announced the official opening of its new Cork office recently. Located at Navigation Square in the heart of Cork City, the new office will serve as a regional hub for two of Marsh McLennan’s businesses, Mercer and Marsh. John Mercer, CEO of Marsh McLennan, Ireland, said: “Our new Cork office represents a significant investment in the local community and underscores our commitment to serving our clients in Cork and the surrounding region. Cork is a vibrant and dynamic city with a thriving business ecosystem, and we are excited to be a part of its continued growth. With expertise in employee benefit solutions, investment solutions, risk management, insurance brokerage, and strategic consulting, Marsh McLennan is wellpositioned to support businesses in Cork as they navigate the complex challenges of today’s rapidly changing world.”

Merck, a leading global science and technology company, held its annual Schools Science Competition recently. This year’s event showcased the ingenuity and creativity of students from five local secondary schools. This year marks the 20th edition of the competition, which has been a cornerstone of STEM education in the local community for the past 24 years. Despite a brief hiatus during the pandemic, the competition has continued to thrive, thanks to the support of teachers and volunteers within Merck. St Fanahan’s Mitchelstown, St Mary’s Midleton, Midleton College, Midleton CBS and Carrignafoy Community School Cobh participated in the annual Schools Science Competition. The Merck Schools Science Competition serves as a platform to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education among young minds. By encouraging students to spark their curiosity and explore scientific concepts and develop practical solutions, Merck aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators.

Pictured are: Ger O’Donovan, Head of Marsh Cork and Limerick Office, Aoife Singleton, Partner and Head of Mercer Cork Office, Michael McGrath, Minister for Finance, John Mercer, CEO of Marsh McLennan Ireland and CEO of Mercer Ireland and Paul Doyle, CEO of Marsh Ireland.
Samira Heckett and Hannah Curtin of Midleton College who were the overall winners of the Merck School Science Competition, pictured with Mark Dunphy, Site Director, Merck, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork.

TechFest 2024 - “AI for Good”

The Tech Industry Alliance TechFest 2024 Conference – “AI for Good: Advancing Deep Tech, Fostering Sustainability & Building a Better Tomorrow” aimed to provide attendees with an insight into cutting-edge technology solutions aimed at addressing environmental, social, and economic challenges. At the heart of the conference were enriching keynote sessions, where prominent figures in the tech and sustainability sectors shared their insights on leveraging technology for the greater good. In addition, attendees engaged in illuminating panel discussions exploring topics such as the ethical considerations in deep tech development, the integration of AI and machine learning for social good, and sustainable tech innovations.

Pictured are: Jonathan McCrea, Newstalk Broadcaster; Keynote Speaker: Sarah Porter, Founder and CEO of InspiredMinds; Laura Hughes, TechFest Speaker & Cloudera and Gerry Murphy, Chairperson of Tech Industry Alliance.

Landmark partnership

Cruise Ireland and The Port of Cork Company have announced a landmark partnership between Cruise Ireland and Cruise Britain, aimed at fostering collaboration and driving growth in the cruise business sector. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by representatives at the renowned Seatrade Global Conference in Miami, Florida, the world’s largest cruise trade show and conference. The cruise industry is estimated to be worth €70m to the national economy annually. The approach to promote Ireland and the British Isles as a ‘cruising region’ aims to harness the further growth potential of the cruise tourism sector with itineraries that offer world renowned experience and attractions all within short sailing distances. Commenting on the partnership Conor Mowlds, Chair of Cruise Ireland and Chief Commercial Officer at the Port of Cork Company stated, “This agreement signifies the strong intent to foster connections across borders and seas to bolster our positioning for future tourism and economic growth.”

Quintas rebrands to Xeinadin

Irish accountancy firm Quintas has announced it is rebranding as Xeinadin in Ireland. The move comes after the Corkheadquartered firm joined Xeinadin, one of the leading professional services firms in Ireland and the UK, last September. Xeinadin has €40 million earmarked for investment into Ireland over the next 18 months, as it expands its footprint here with a core focus on taxation and business advisory services and audit for SMEs across Ireland. Eight other Irish firms have also rebranded to Xeinadin, bringing the total Irish workforce to over 500. One of the largest acquisitions to date by Xeinadin, Quintas was established in 2005 and currently has a team of 70, with plans to expand in line with their expected growth. Quintas Managing Partner Paul O’Connell will take on the title of Head of Strategy and Acquisitions at Xeinadin in Ireland. The accountancy and tax firm specialises in business advisory, corporate finance, banking, debt resolution and insolvency, and mergers and acquisitions for SMEs and owner-managed and family businesses.

Derry Crowley, CEO, Xeinadin and Sandra Clarke, Managing Partner – Ireland, Xeinadin with Paul O’Connell, Managing Partner, Quintas, pictured at the announcement. Picture: Michael O’Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Cruise Ireland and Cruise Britain sign an agreement to promote Ireland and Britain as a joint ‘cruising region’: At Miami Port are Sarah Kavanagh, Consul General of Ireland in Miami; Conor Mowlds, Chair of Cruise Ireland; Ian McQuade, Chair of Cruise Britain and Rufas Drabble, British Consul General in Miami.




Live entertainment offers the ideal backdrop to imp rove corporate relations, encourage staff loyalty and foster engag ement. It plays a vital role in connecting individuals and communitie s. No matter its form, it encourages acceptance, broadens perspectiv es and cultivates an appreciation for culture.

Located in the centre of Cork city, Cork Opera Hous e has been a cultural institution for over 165 years and will c ontinue to present and produce renowned Irish and international acts f or our audiences. This is an institution to be proud of and an instit ution that is proud to be pure Cork!

Please contact Partnerships & Development Manager L aura Noonan at to establish your membership and become part of the corporate circle at Cork Opera House.

Our Corporate Hospitality Packages cater directly to the needs of your business.

We offer a range of packages from Sports & Social Membership to Corporate Box Sponsorship with a variety of benefits.

Choose from: Gilded

Quarterly Economic Trends

The quarterly Economic Trends report captures a snapshot of experiences and of the overall operating landscape for businesses across the Cork region.

The report is based on member survey and the results inform our agenda and advocacy activity.

Crowleys DFK announce new


Crowleys DFK is delighted to announce two new partners: Shane Moloney and Kim McCarthy. Shane Moloney, Partner in Consulting, has driven technology and data innovations since joining as an intern in 2011. With his transformative mindset, leadership, and dedication, he delivers excellent consulting services, specialising in business process improvement, financial planning, strategy, and forecasting. Kim McCarthy, Partner in Practice Development, has been pivotal in expanding our reach, enhancing our brand presence, and driving our strategic vision since 2008, significantly contributing to our business’s continued growth and success.

CKT announces promotion of three new Senior Associates

Leading Irish Law Firm, Comyn Kelleher Tobin LLP (CKT), has announced three promotions in its Cork office. Insurance lawyer Barry Kelleher, Healthcare litigator Grace Toher and Employment specialist Conor White have been promoted to Senior Associates. Barry Kelleher has specialist knowledge in employers’ liability, public liability, healthcare litigation and prosecutions, and data breach litigation. Grace Toher is a key member of CKT’s Healthcare and Professional Indemnity Litigation Team, with extensive experience defending professional and clinical negligence. Conor White is an experienced advisor and advocate, advising employers in both the public and private sector in relation to employment disputes. With a keen eye for detail, he also has a specialist interest in data protection and life sciences.

Rachel takes the chair

Rachel McCann ACA, Director at Grant Thornton, has been appointed as Chair of the Cork Society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, succeeding James Fox of EY. Commenting on her election Rachel stated, “I am honoured to serve as the new Chair of the Cork Society of Chartered Accountants Ireland. As I take on this role, I am filled with enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility to continue building on the strong foundation laid by my predecessors.” Rachel is an Associate of Chartered Accountants Ireland with over 16 years of experience in practice. Originally from Tralee, County Kerry, she was educated at Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee, and later at University College Cork, where she graduated in Accounting. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant after training with Deloitte. Rachel spent three years in Sydney, Australia, working in various industry roles before relocating to Cork in 2016. She has been with Grant Thornton since then and is currently a Director in the Advisory team.

Upskilling in the evolving world of AI

Dave A. Barry FCIPD, founding director®, speaker and part-time university lecturer, and human resources MC and moderator explores upskilling in the evolving world of AI.

Development is now the primary retainer/attractor

Back in 1986, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger created the 70:20:10 model for learning and development, proposing that year on year 70% of development comes from on the job, 20% from coaching and mentoring, and 10% from training. While criticisms of this hypothesis exist, fast forward to 2024, with development constituting the primary talent management element for organizations to both retain and attract. There is much ongoing globally right now, but the world of work must keep turning, and I am finding with both clients and adult learners that this model is really helping with upskilling strategy particularly regarding the 10% piece.

Global and Ireland data to help

In early February of this year, LinkedIn issued the below ‘The 2024 Most In-Demand Skills’ list, strongly advocating that business leaders are looking for uniquely human skills to both work with AI – and drive organizational success. Per CEO Ryan Rolansky, “I believe we are in the early days of a world of work that is more human than before, giving us the chance to do more fulfilling work, and to do that work more easily and effectively with others.”

also identified in the challenges of sustaining organisational culture (56%), managing employees effectively (55%), and as a barrier to HR performance, due to managers’ lack of time and availability for people management (56%).

Both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills essential

For LinkedIn, there is more value than ever right now in augmenting your specialization with the below age-old fundamentals, which I have always referred to as the nonnegotiable soft skills:

• Leadership and management

• Collaboration and teamwork

• Communication

And on the business-critical hard skills side, the below are clearly coming through:

• Digitalisation (AI, cloud computing, process automation)

• Marketing and sales

• Sustainable supply chain

Related upcoming Cork Chamber Skillnet courses

In early April, Skillnet Ireland issued its ‘Ireland’s Talent Landscape 2024 – Future Skills Challenges of Irish Businesses’ research report. For small to medium enterprises cybersecurity, financial management, and marketing and sales were reported. For large enterprises it was process automation (54%), cloud computing (47%), AI (42%), marketing (70%), and sustainable supply chain management (69%).

In early May then, CIPD Ireland’s ‘HR Practices in Ireland 2024’ survey results reported talent management and resourcing as the top priority, with the most concerning capability gap constituting leadership and influencing skills for 36% of respondents, far ahead of technology design, programming and AI in second place at 13%. The leadership gap was

Also as a longstanding and proud member of its steering group, are you aware that Cork Chamber Skillnet has the knowledge, expertise and resources available to guide you on the right path to learning and development? They will help you identify skills gaps, source trainers, adapt content and provide funding to help you get the most out of your training. Below are just some of their related upcoming courses, and Training & Development Manager Garrett O’Rourke and Executive Kate Murray at would be delighted to hear from you regarding these or other requirements:

• ChatGPT for marketing

• Management practices for high team performance in 2024 and beyond

• UCD Professional Academy Diploma in Team Development for Success

Here’s to exciting development and upskilling times ahead in the evolving world of AI, with balanced focus throughout on both the ‘soft’ non-negotiables and ‘hard’ business essentials identified above, and continued skills evolution most likely to feature too.

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