Hundreds of representatives from
136 of Ireland’s premier companies gathered in the Convention Centre Dublin on
Friday 1st March for Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies Awards
symposium. An annual gathering, this event marks an opportunity for businesses
from every county in Ireland to gather, learn and network with their peers.
After a hearty breakfast,
delegates were treated to a line-up of keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and
panel discussions on some of the most important issues facing Irish companies
Chief among the topics addressed
on the day was Brexit, in recognition of the impact that it is already having
and will continue to have on the business environment for most companies in
Ireland. Beyond Brexit, seminars also covered the role of wellness in
performance; the future of work; and an issue that is increasingly pertinent
for companies, cybercrime.
Opening the proceedings, Dr Simon
Boucher, Chief Executive of the IMI shared his insights based on the four key
pillars of the Best Managed programme including: financial, strategy,
capabilities and commitment. He talked
about uncertainty in the wider macro financial environment; and the issue of
data overload, observing that we now absorb 6 newspapers worth of information a
day, through emails, voicemails. Finally, he emphasised the need to work more
collaboratively in order to perform at our best, noting that “Hustle Culture”,
another word for workaholism, is a recipe for disaster.
up on the theme of well-being in the first session, Dr John Briffa talked about
strategies for optimising individual and organisational wellbeing, pointing out
that people with energy are more productive, happier and they perform better,
thus making wellbeing a key metric for success in an organisation. Stress in the
workplace can lead to absenteeism, reduced moral, increased turnover, and
reduced productivity, and with such stress on the rise in Ireland, Dr Briffa
urged companies to ensure balance in their employees’ lives, for their own
benefit and that of the business.
was next on the agenda with a panel made up of Deloitte Partner, David Carson; Loretta
O’Sullivan, Chief Economist, Bank of Ireland; John Cronin, British Irish
Chamber and Paul Tierney, Extraspace Solutions covering topics such as
uncertainty, preparedness and the many supports that exist for businesses to
help them to navigate Brexit from both Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia. The
overall sense was that the uncertainty is costing and the preparedness is just
not there as yet for many companies, however that said, they felt that Irish
companies are more prepared than UK firms.
panel discussed potential outcomes including; no deal; deal or no Brexit, but
ultimately shared the view that no matter what the outcome, our economy is
going to be impacted negatively. It will
reduce trade, there will be less investment, migration and that will have an
impact on productivity and labour and therefore impact on our potential to
grow. On a more positive note though, panellists noted that even in the midst
of Brexit, there are opportunities, in that a challenge forces us to think
differently and to go beyond what we know.
Partner and former Head of Europol Rob Wainright delivered a pre-lunchtime
session on one of the omnipresent threats facing business today, cybercrime.
Business thrives in today’s digitalised world, with technology transforming the
way they develop and produce, accelerating transactions and trade and
optimising transportation and logistics.
in tandem, the scale, sophistication and impact of today’s cyber threats are
increasing, and digitalisation is converging criminal activity, allowing them
to maximise operations at a global scale. Large scale financial gain is up for
grabs in this new digitally enabled criminal economy and in response
collaboration across industry will have the most effectiveness. In the face of
this threat, Wainright advocated recognising and admitting your vulnerability
to cyber-attack and showing vision, leadership and confidence in taking
lunch, delegates broke into smaller groups for a range of breakout sessions.
Deloitte’s Valerie Daunt led a session on the future of work, with advice on
how to become a “simply irresistible” organisation. She also returned to John
Briffa’s theme of the overwhelmed employee, noting that how we approach people
strategies needs to be different. The employee needs to be king.
led a session on executive presence, giving attendees the tools to help them to
identify their emotional triggers, allowing them to respond rather than react
to work situations. Next door, Michael Shiel in a session on executing
strategy, challenged attendees to consider what they were going to do for their
customers that is better than anyone else?
closing keynote address of the symposium was delivered by international
technology expert Nancy Rademaker who spoke of the clash between the “old normal”
and “new normal” in today’s technology driven world. Digitising is not a
response strategy to this however, as in a decade, we will be facing a brand
new “normal” all over again. Companies will again be selling different products
to different customers in different ways. As humans we have a resistance to
change, and we need overcome this.
detailed the strategy to survive in this new normal, and it may not come as a
surprise that at its core is customer centric thinking. She extolled the “virtuous
circle” of AI - smarter data, smarter product, happier customer, better sales,
but maintained that while we should automate as much as we can in areas that
make sense, there will always be aspects of businesses where only humans can
make a customer truly happy.