CEO Forum 2018
Irish business of the future
Irish business leaders gather to mark the 30th CEO Forum and to hear about Brexit, the wider geopolitical landscape and the challenges and opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution
Hundreds of senior Irish business people gathered in Dublin Castle on 22 November for the annual CEO Forum, jointly hosted by Deloitte and Enterprise Ireland. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the event, which has been attracting Irish business leaders and providing a platform for networking and knowledge sharing for decades. The theme for this year’s forum was Irish business of the future.
Mark Gallagher, CEO of Performance Insights Ltd and former management lead at Formula One lifted the lid on the seismic shifts that have taken place in his industry, one that is predominantly about technology rather than car racing. He took attendees through the arrival of Red Bull Racing onto the Formula One scene and the way that they disrupted the sector from the outset, questioning the established ways of doing things, changing the culture completely, and engaging every team member in identifying the road blocks on their path to racing victory. The goal was to match, benchmark and ultimately beat every other player and by injecting innovation and experimentation, a new route to success was unlocked.
Mark also highlighted the external challenges that have arisen along the way, from the ban on tobacco advertising in Formula One to the increased awareness and demand for sustainable energy solutions. He spoke about how they are future-proofing the industry by understanding the audience of the future, investing in electric vehicles, and harnessing the huge opportunity of esports. With tens of millions gaming online, the way that customers engage with the sport - contributing and participating, not just watching - will be transformative.
During the panel discussion Colette Fitzpatrick moderated contributions from Applegreen’s Bob Etchingham, SoftCo’s Susan Spence and IPL Plastics’s Alan Walsh. Among the topics discussed were recent successes, diversification, scaling, talent retention, gender balance in business, the IPO journey and the impact of the fourth industrial revolution. Of particular note, there was commentary on recruiting and retaining talent with reference made to the strong Irish work ethic. Automation was also addressed in driving efficiencies, finding new ways to do things and also as a potential solution to the talent challenge.
Keynote speaker Siobhán Talbot, CEO of Glanbia talked about the company’s evolution from producers of dairy products to the global nutrition and ingredients business it is today. She spoke about the pride they take in their management of the entire food production cycle from the raw material through to the finished nutritional products which are made and distributed globally.
Siobhan’s advice to Irish businesses of the future was to have clarity and belief in your strategy, acknowledging what you’re good at and what you’re not and ensuring that strategy is grounded in an honest assessment of the organisation. She also returned to the theme of talent, emphasising the need to find the best people and the importance of motivating them and creating and sustaining positive energy.
Siobhán talked about the need for all businesses to be agile and to embrace rapid experimentation in the knowledge that some projects will not work out as planned, but the ones that do could change the path of an organisation. In closing Siobhan was upbeat, remarking that Irish businesses have a unique resilience and have proven that they can thrive amid disruption and work well in a global landscape.
Read the findings from the CEO Forum Survey 2018 which reveals almost seven in ten (68%) Irish CEOs have said they have acted to mitigate against the potential impact of Brexit