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Irish business leaders hear from industry experts on Brexit, Talent and the Irish Advantage at the 2017 Deloitte Enterprise Ireland CEO Forum

Keynote speakers Stephane Garelli and Denis O’Brien advise participants on what’s needed to succeed in business in challenging times

The CEO Forum, jointly hosted by Deloitte and Enterprise Ireland, last month is one of Ireland’s principal business conferences, and attracts hundreds of senior Irish business people across industry each year.  The forum provides a platform for collaborative thinking, knowledge sharing and debate with political and business leaders. The theme of the 2017 Forum was ‘Ireland – the Competitive Advantage’. 

Stephane Garelli, IMD was the first keynote speaker to take to the stage and in keeping with the theme of the conference, he spoke about the international context affecting the competitiveness of Ireland, the trading impact of Brexit and where the opportunities for growth of Irish companies may be. He also focused on millennials, and how they are influencing change across corporations, a common theme throughout the forum. Garelli highlighted the three stages of working life as he sees them – the Tiger who sees company achievement as the most valuable; the Cat, when company achievement is complete, social achievement becomes paramount and work / life balance; and finally the Dinosaur, who is focused on personal achievement and a life / life balance. 

Stephan Garelli was joined on stage by Feargal Mooney, HostelWorld and Gabriel D’Arcy, Lacpatrick Dairies for a lively panel discussion facilitated by MC Gina London. The panel looked at what companies need to do to mitigate against Brexit, how millennials are demanding more from their workplace and what technologies will have the most impact on business into the future. The panel agreed that innovation is Ireland’s key competitive advantage in business, no matter what the industry. 

The panel also discussed a ‘vision deficit’ on Brexit and highlighted the need for business and government alike to identify opportunities to leverage.  Feargal Mooney’s key advice to businesses was to stick to the ‘Three As’ – Ability, Ambition, and Alignment, to ensure the business is continuously aligning with changing business and customer needs.  With long DNA being a competitive advantage at LacPatrick, Gabriel D’Arcy pointed out that companies need a strategy that’s connected to where markets are headed, but it also needs to connect to the organisation. Aross the board Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and health were identified as areas that would cause the most technological disruption in the near future. 

Chairman of Digicel Group, Denis O’Brien, was interviewed in a fireside chat by Gina with lots of audience participation, and the discussion focused on Denis’ experience in business, his views on building and scaling businesses and how to choose the right talent to build corporate culture. 

One of Denis’ practical pieces of advice for everyone in the room was to write down all of the worst things that could happen your business, and then work with management team to find solutions. He said that there is a lot of uncertainty in the market place, particularly with Brexit, and businesses need to look in different directions, diversify, or build new markets in order to survive, and retain the competitive advantage.

Denis was then joined by Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner, Deloitte and Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland where the conversation focused on opportunities for companies.  Julie announced the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s new Agile Innovation Fund to give companies rapid access to innovation funding, while Brendan shared key insight in relation to challenges and innovative solutions being developed by companies across the Deloitte global network. 

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