Accreate Connects: Irish Life Sciences Sector Whitepaper

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 20/10/2017
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In June 2017, Accreate Executive Search reached out to over 350 leaders in the life sciences sector in order to discover some of the challenges facing the sector in Ireland and gather suggestions from the industry as to how these challenges could be overcome.

  • What are the most challenging issues facing life sciences businesses today?
  • What is the most important area of tax reformation to faciliate growth in life sciences?

David Phelan, Managing Partner / Partner, Life Sciences at Accreate, has produced the first in a series of Accreate Connects whitepapers. Please click on the link below to read.

Leadership Tips from Anne Mulcahy

Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 02/10/2017
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My approach to planning is - In business we all want to drive profitable growth but the question is, how? My belief is that you really need to understand your category and brand dynamics and why people buy or don’t buy your brand in favour of a competitor. My starting point is defining the issue and to establish the core consumer questions. Once you know what is inhibiting growth you are on the path to finding a solution to unlocking it. Innovation and keeping a brand relevant and fresh in consumer minds is fundamental. I am a fan of Byron Sharpe and believe in his philosophy that continually gaining new customers is the key to success and that choosing to be a niche brand is not sustainable. In Cannes this year I attended a talk from BBDO India who developed a campaign for Ariel washing powder #share the load. It was rich in insight but also incited action, the core of the insight is that they empathised with women and showed amazing understanding of their lives. The results are that the brand is now back in growth and taking share from the competition. It all goes to prove that there is no such thing as a dull category but dull minds.

My approach to building trust is - Be authentic, let people get to know you and what you stand for, create a shared vision and be there for your team, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance, nobody knows it all. I once heard someone describe themselves as a bridge between their team and the rest of the organisation filtering and allowing them the freedom to succeed by focusing on
what matters. Being open, honest and accessible are key but most of all to have integrity and common Vs personal goals builds trust quickly. Don’t blame
people, I am involved and if something goes wrong I have skin in the game too. Last but not least is have your organisation’s best interests at heart and be prepared to leave your functional interests to one side and lean in to help on bigger matters, being helpful is truly valued.

My secret to fostering accountability is - Be super clear on what success looks like, set objectives and give everyone a clear job description. Help people to succeed don’t ask them to do things without adequate resources and be there for them to guide and mentor. So far in my career I have worked for large organisations and it is critical to realize the value of cross functional working and involving the right people. Let everyone know what their particular role is in the project and ensure initiatives are properly supported. Finally, realise that we are always learning, take time to reflect on what went well and what could have been better, fostering a learning culture helps people take accountability and achieve more in the long run.

My advice on managing difficult people is - Stay objective and fact based, don’t respond emotionally and look at real data and context. Being proactive and dealing with the issue in a timely way is also very important. I always try to separate the issue from the person and work on understanding the issue and why they are being difficult, I also examine my role in the situation, and ask should I do something differently. In particular difficult situations it is very helpful to seek feedback from others who are familiar with the situation to get a balanced view. A perfect result is when you can reconcile differences and move on with the person to build a productive relationship. There are however, times when you have exhausted all options and you realize
that the person concerned has irreconcilable differences with the organisation, or simply is in the wrong role, as a leader you need to help them figure this
out and facilitate their next steps in a fair and respectful way.

My approach to leading through change is - There is no doubt that change is constant, this is especially so in the telecom industry where things are changing all the time, new technologies become available, we enter new categories, significant competitive moves happen, plus like any other business there are operational, cost and regulatory challenges. This requires a high degree of adaptability, agility and a need to know that you might have to change your plans very quickly. It is therefore, important to have a vison, purpose and a north star to guide you. So anticipating change is vital and when things are relatively stable build your war chest, in my case grow brand equity, stand for something that consumers believe in and are willing to pay for, at Vodafone it is the strength of our network. It goes without saying that keeping your team onside is key and open communication is vital at every step of the way, let the team know as much
you can share and involve them in how to adjust plans and make the necessary changes. Knowing that change is inevitable requires that you create a culture that accepts and embraces change, where people see change to be exciting and a positive challenge.

My secret to ensuring I continue to grow and develop as a leader is - Humility is important and knowing that you are always learning, knowing what made you successful before is not guaranteed to do it again. I spent most of my career in FMCG companies, Coca-Cola and Diageo where brand marketing and strategy was at the core of the business, I then moved to Vodafone a technology company that is a great brand in the category but operates differently from pure FMCG companies, technology and products have a big place at the top table and the role of brand is to influence and guide strategy. Continuing to grow as a leader, demands a lot of self- challenge and a dislike of being comfortable, I believe, you are not growing if you keep doing the same thing with the same people all of the time. The single biggest factor, in growing as a leader is to simply throw yourself into leading and developing your people, a great team, is your best asset. Creating an environment where everyone is learning and enjoying what they do is the best recipe for success.

The biggest challenge facing my industry today is - The big challenge facing our industry today is the race to convergence, up until recently there were distinctive brands offering consumers and businesses, mobile, TV, broadband, landline and hosting services. Companies operated within a relatively tight category, this is no longer the case. Now we have an industry where brands who were once known and famous for offering one particular service, can offer all four services to customers. The big questions are how to differentiate, fund services and how to set pricing to avoid a race to the bottom and facilitate investment in future technology. For customers the challenge is how to navigate and select between options and companies, and it is our role to help them navigate through change and give them the best products and experience.

The greatest opportunity available to my industry today is - The world of IOT and the possibilities it brings is growing exponentially, the brand that facilitates consumers and business to access this will be the brand that wins. Therefore, the opportunity for the industry relates to the fact that at the core of our digital world is a strong network. At Vodafone we are preparing for the future, we are building gigabit broadband through SIRO, a joint venture company (Vodafone & ESB) and we continue to enhance our mobile network with 4G+ speeds.

If you could step into the shoes of one person for the day, who would it be and why? - I recently watched an interview with JK Rowling and I thought she is a person I really admire. Through story telling she has sparked the imagination of so many children and adults, her stories have brought great joy and the business success is phenomenal. What I admire most is how she followed her passion to write and the business success followed. In the world of building brands we all want to be good story tellers and passionate about what we do and JK Rowling is inspirational in this regard, I love the quote “we do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves” She continues to reinvent herself and is now writing different genres of books, this demonstrates a willingness to change and grow. Finally, I respect that she gives back to the community through various charities; she is a person who cares about people and making the world a better place.

Leadership tips from Anne Mulcahy, Head of Brand Communications & Insights - Vodafone Ireland

Who needs a mentor?

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 06/09/2017
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September has dawned and, for many, it has brought with it a seasonal bout of renewed enthusiasm, fueled by the reinstatement of familiar ‘back to school’ routines. Yet, for those in the world of work who are not embracing this time of year, perhaps a little mentoring would help to get re-energised?

Back when I joined Arthur Andersen as a Trainee Chartered Accountant in 1998 (is it really that long?!), I was introduced to the idea of mentoring. In short, a mentor was appointed for each new recruit, essentially like a ‘buddy’ system, from a pool of more senior colleagues who had chosen a similar career path and could therefore empathise and identify with the experiences and hurdles faced by more junior employees. The mentor’s role was to offer guidance, not only as the person made the transition from student life into the world of work/professional practice, but also thereafter as they progressed up through the ranks; they were effectively a sounding board and a counsellor. Whilst this was a relatively new concept for me at the time, I didn’t underestimate its importance. Indeed, mentoring has continued to play a key role in terms of my professional development in the intervening years. It appears that I am in the majority in this regard.

As we move up the career ladder within our respective organisations, it may seem that there are fewer ‘mentors’ who can offer guidance and support internally. For example, who can the CEO or the MD turn to for encouragement or a second opinion? In this scenario, the obvious answer is to look externally to find like-minded individuals whose career trajectories are similar. This is where the benefit of networking and membership of professional bodies relevant to your chosen career path become particularly apparent.

Of course, another option is to look to inspirational figures outside of our own networks, the Richard Bransons of this world for example, whose careers we might like to emulate. Tips on their success are well documented so it’s possible to learn from afar.

We can all benefit at times from a little pep talk, whether with a colleague, an adviser or indeed with ourselves. It seems that the answer to my title question: ‘Who needs a mentor?’ is an emphatic: ‘We all do’!

Pharma Industry Awards 2017 – Shortlist Released

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 30/08/2017
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Last week marked the announcement of the shortlist for the Pharma Industry Awards 2017. Over the last four years since the awards’ inception in 2014, there’s been a very interesting evolution and mix of organisations who have featured in the shortlist. This isn’t simply an exercise in giving big pharma a pat on the back, but a recognition of the individuals and teams within these large pharma companies that make a real difference. It’s also become synonymous with recognising the next generation of companies in the Irish market.

In the last few years APC, led by CEO and Co-Founder Mark Barrett has taken home three awards. APC has gone on to open a 30,000sqft R&D unit in Cherrywood, growing 60 to 70 percent in 2017 to over €20m in revenue. This year sees Valitacell, an exciting company based out of NIBRT in UCD enter the fray. Nominated for three awards, including the Pharma Company of the Year – SME, this highly innovative company develops biotechnology which allows companies to deliver faster and cheaper processing of bio-therapeutic drugs. This could be a game changer in an ever more complex and costly regulatory environment.

The mainstays of Pfizer, Amgen and AbbVie are again in contention across a plethora of awards. However, I suspect that they are all hoping to beat each other out for the coveted prize of Pharma Company of the Year – Large.

In addition to this, and possibly more importantly, it’s a great opportunity to connect with the wider pharma community. All too often we become very insular in our outlook as we get bogged down in the day to day running of our own businesses. Connecting with the wider industry allows us to see the bigger picture, share ideas, experiences and insights. With few opportunities to do this, the Pharma Awards are one of the few events in the calendar that allow us to do just that.

For a list of those shortlisted for the awards, please click here.

Accreate will be attending the event in force, so please do pop over for a chat if you are in attendance!

An Island Open to the World

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 25/08/2017
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Following last year’s very successful commemorations of 1916, Ireland’s decade of centenaries is now well underway as we remember the historic events of nearly a century ago that ultimately gave birth to our independent nation.

As we look back to events like the War of Independence, the Treaty and the Civil War that followed, it is inevitable that we will also start to look forward to what kind of Republic we want to achieve in the coming century and how we might make a reality of this vision.

Hanging over all of this is Brexit, which will change everything and upend all the existing assumptions about the social, economic and political arrangements on this island, our relationship with our closest neighbour and our role in the wider world.

As we reimagine Ireland for the 21st century, we should start by thinking about what makes us distinctive and the strengths and weaknesses we carry with us into a very changed world.

And when you stand back and look at Ireland in 2017, perhaps the most striking feature is our openness to the world - as was noted in the Irish Times during the week nearly 17 per cent of those currently living in Ireland were born abroad, while 17 per cent of those born here currently live abroad. While the symmetry is remarkable, what it tells us more than anything else is that we are, to paraphrase our new Taoiseach, an island that is open to the world.

That very openness is something we don’t celebrate enough. It’s also potentially our killer app. After all, the emerging divide in the 21st century is between those who want to be open to the world and those who want to close themselves off. What is astonishing is that the two nations we have historically been closest to - the UK and the US - are choosing to shut their doors to the world.

Only this week, we heard how a Finnish academic in London married to a British national was plunged into a “Kafkaesque nightmare” after being threatened with detention and deportation by the Home Office, despite being an EU national. The Home Office later apologised and said it was a mistake and the UK government line remains that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged. But episodes like this stoke the fears of EU citizens living and working in the UK about their status post-Brexit and whether they are really welcome in Britain after all.

Perhaps the deep ambivalence about immigrants on display in the UK explains why almost half of Britain’s highly skilled workers from the European Union are considering leaving in the next five years, according to a recent survey by Deloitte. In fact, this so-called ‘Brexodus’ may already be underway, with figures released this week showing that an unprecedented 122,000 Europeans left the UK in the year to March. Such a brain drain is likely to leave the UK’s labour market dangerously exposed to a skills shortage that will cause significant economic damage.

By contrast, Ireland has gone from a situation where only a tiny percentage of the population was foreign-born just twenty years ago to almost a fifth today, without immigration becoming a hot button issue or any of the anti-immigration sentiment we have seen elsewhere. Perhaps as a nation of emigrants ourselves, we understand that we are all potentially immigrants too.

And while we face a number of constraints and bottlenecks in our economy - not least housing and transport - surely this island that is open to the world should now become the destination of choice for Europeans who no longer believe they are welcome in the UK?

Why gender imbalance isn’t just a bad look - it’s also bad for business

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 15/08/2017
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Major firms in Ireland are missing out on fresh opinions because of their lack of diversity at the top.

THE ISSUE OF gender pay has grabbed everyone’s attention recently, so much so that the government has launched a public consultation on the matter.

If you’re in business though, of equal concern should be gender imbalance at senior management and boardroom level.

Too few or no women in C-suite and director positions will negatively affect your business’s performance and results. The good news is that steps can be taken to improve things.

Even a brief look at the make-up of the senior management teams and boards of Ireland’s biggest companies will show you there’s a problem: not enough women.

Research conducted by Accreate shows that 38% of ISEQ-listed company boards have no women at all. Of the 423 board seats among companies on the index, only 61 – or 14% – are occupied by women.

It’s a similar story outside the boardroom as the vast majority of CEOs and members of senior management teams are men.

Women hold the top job in only 10% of these companies, and the trend is actually getting worse since 2014. Two of the biggest companies, Ryanair and Kerry Group, have senior leadership teams that are exclusively male.

Does this really matter though? Well, the international research says it does.

The first benefit of greater diversity is that it increases innovation. According to Scientific American, the research shows that people with different backgrounds bring with them new information and perspectives.

Another benefit is particularly relevant to Ireland – having more women at board and C-suite level results in less governance-related controversies.

And if that’s not persuasive enough for you, consider how better gender balance will affect your business’s bottom line.

Research from leading global equity experts MSCI says that boards with gender balance produce better results, including return on equity, capital investment and sales.

Companies with the most women board directors had 26% higher return on invested capital.

Before looking at the solutions, it’s worth considering why this is happening.

A big factor is men’s head start in leadership positions – women are only now starting to get appointed to these board and C-suite positions.

You can add to this misguided beliefs – an IOD survey in July said that men feel there aren’t more women in senior positions because there were too few suitably qualified female candidates.

For me, this issue is linked to the ‘rules’ of the club which exclude women. You have to already be ‘in’ the club to ‘join’ it.

When companies create shortlists of possible new board members, they start by looking to the network of their existing board members. This means they end up looking and finding people like them.

There also tends to be two selection rules that exclude lots of good candidates: they must have previously served on a PLC board or as a CEO of a PLC.

When you consider the low number of women on boards or in the CEO seat of PLCs today, no wonder our record on gender balance on boards is so poor.

The solution

So, how do we sort this out? Organisations must look first at how they recruit and succession plan for both their boards and senior leadership teams. They need to change the rules.

They should develop role requirements around the essential skills that they do not have and the gaps in diversity of backgrounds that will help them mitigate those shortages.

If they already have 99% of board members who either are PLC board members or in the past or have served as a PLC CEO, why do they need another one? They have that skill set covered off, right?

One great example is Anita Sands, a US-based Irish woman who was just 38 years old when she was appointed to the board of Symantec, a Fortune 500 company.

The company identified the skill sets its board needed but didn’t have. That’s why they chose a young, female, PhD graduate of atomic and molecular physics with a different industry background and from a different country.

Crucially, her background gives the board a range of different and very valuable skills and perspectives – and gender is just one of them.

While there is more risk in going with a candidate with no prior board experience, this can be addressed by a robust on-boarding process for the ‘newbie’. Ideally, an existing board member would do the mentoring.

Also crucial is ensuring that in-person time is given with the senior leadership team and that the new member gets to sit in on customer meetings.

Gender diversity is really just the start of the journey to the most successful possible board make up – one which delivers cognitive diversity.

This can only be achieved by ensuring board members have different backgrounds in experience, ethnicity, education, gender and age, to name but a few factors.

Leadership tips from Eavann Murphy, Chief Commercial Officer at eir Business

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 26/07/2017
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My approach to planning is to start with a clear destination in mind and only then work on a path for everyone involved so they all arrive there together.

My approach to building trust is to be honest and let yourself be vulnerable and let the people who work with you see the real you.

My secret to fostering accountability is to be crystal clear on your expectations, on “what” you expect from “who” and “when” you expect it and then, most importantly, clarity when expectations are not being met. Accountability cannot occur when there is ambiguity over expectations.

My advice on managing difficult people is… whoever is your difficult person today for whatever reason will be a different difficult person with a different reason three months from now… difficult people are always an opportunity to stretch yourself.

My secret to challenging trading times is that throughout my career my very best work has been done during challenging times. In my experience when the chips are down and results are not going your way, that is when you can be at your most creative and perhaps most importantly, when you have the attention of senior management and an easier business case for investment.

My approach to leading through change is to establish a north star and then bring everything that you do back to that north star. And explain the pros and cons of difficult decisions as you have to make them. 9 times out of 10 when someone knows the “why” for change, even if they don’t agree with the change, they get on board quicker.

My secret to ensure I continue to grow and develop as a leader is to always be listening to your people and to your customers and never take the path of least resistance no matter how tempting. I believe people want to do a great job and be successful. As a consequence, I believe leadership is about removing any barriers to your people being at their best.

The biggest challenge facing my industry today is that whilst there has been an explosion in content, advertising and e-commerce across the internet, it is not the telecoms operators that are monetizing this but the digital newbies (think Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix) that have built their empires on the top of our networks that cost our industry millions to upgrade year after year to handle the ever increasing flood of data.

The greatest opportunity facing my industry today lies in our ability to execute on the Internet of Things. Our industry has the infrastructure advantage and if we can successfully combine that with state of the art digital technology we will become the undisputed backbone of this fast growing digital ecosystem.

An island at the center of the world

Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 21/07/2017
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If like me you were one of the many Irish feeling proud after reading last week’s article in Time Magazine on Leo Varadkar, you may also be feeling hopeful for Ireland’s future.

It’s has been a while, I have to say since I have felt inspired by a politician.

Varadkar starts off his interview with a frankness that is both refreshing and concise and explains that his government is similar to new divisions emerging in Europe as centrist politics. Which we are seeing across Europe and globally at the moment, with Macron, Trudeau, Rutte of the Netherlands and Angela Merkel in Germany. Moving away from the more traditional ‘Right and Left’ instead choosing to side with the right on economic issues while leaning to the left on issues such as Personal freedoms and the role that government has on redistributing wealth.

This may sound a little al la carte to some people but why not. To me this is a sensible approach to politics, instead of having to be restricted to your party politics – or pledge your alliance to the right or the left, do what works and what the people want.

When asked “How does Ireland maintain influence, while its biggest partners in Europe and in the U.S. are seeming to turn inward?” Varadkar replied with a charismatic reference to Michael Collins “I would like Ireland to become what Michael Collins described as the shining light unto the world. A country that people look to for example, for example in terms of things like our economic progress, the strength of our economy, our success as a trading nation and more recently in terms of social liberalism, although we have more to do in that space.”

Varadkar went on to explain how Ireland is a key player in Europe, even if we sit on its periphery, saying “The way I see us is as an island at the center of the world.”

As one of the founding members of the single market and of the Euro, Ireland has had a pioneering role as a small country, being first and leading the charge with many policies and initiatives.

When asked about his concerns on the UK leaving Europe and how its departure from the E.U. might hurt the Irish economy? Varadkar gave strong practical answers without overpromising and explained that it is in all of our interests to work together. However when challenged with the idea of Ireland having an “Irexit”, Varadkar ruled this out straight away, Explaining that Ireland has on many occasions taken a different road than the United Kingdom and have emerged stronger and more prosperous as a result.

Again the calm transparent manner of how Varadkar conducted this interview with honest reply’s on how he would not be telling President Trumph on how to run America but will be getting his point across on the importance of free trade. Varadkar also highlighted the importance of equality in all in all aspects of life and not just in Ireland but globally.

I wish Leo Vardkar, the 13th Taoiseach and 14th head of government in the history of the State all the very best and hope that he leads Ireland, that small dynamic country that we are, into peace and prosperity for all.

References to - Jennifer Duggan -
Jul 13, 2017

Culture as a Tool for Success

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 18/07/2017
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“Now in the height of the summer months, the roads are quieter than ever and out of office responses are reaching their annual heights. Trying to continue to operate a business at full speed during the summer months is much like trying to win a football match two players short.

Driving a strong, cohesive culture has it’s benefits at all times of the year. However, the true test of the culture in your business comes at the most difficult points. What happens when the odds are stacked against you? Does the team blame each other, do they abandon ship or do they simply look out for their individual interests?

It’s during these summer months when the full value of a positive culture can be seen working at its best. Seemless transitioning of work between colleagues, selflessly covering their workload and increasing productivity and creativity in order maintain overall business performance.

Here are some thoughts on how to go about driving this culture:

  1. Hire the right people! - This first step is the most important. When going into a hiring process, think about the type of people you have and the type of person that they would want to work with. Matching personalities is as important as matching skillsets. The wrong personality fit can have detrimental affects on your ability to implement a culture change.
  2. Communicate the Culture - Communicate to everyone in the business what culture you’re trying to achieve. If you want people to come on the journey with you, transparency in communication will be your best friend.
  3. The leader must be the culture - There’s no point in saying you want one culture and acting counterintuitively to that. The culture comes from the top down and if it is to be successful at every level of the business, the leader must walk the walk first.
  4. Off-site social events work - When you’re head is stuck in your work on a daily basis, it’s difficult to really get to know your colleagues on a personal level. Getting out of the office for the day can make a massive improvement in the cohesion of the team. Make them at least once a quarter to keep everyone engaged.
  5. Develop a strategy specific to culture - If it’s not in writing, it won’t happen. Spell out both what you want your culture to be and how you’re going to implement it. Make it measureable and distribute responsibility amongst staff. If they will live the culture, then they should play a part in its implementation.

Overall, an appreciation of the immeasurable value a positive culture can have on the growth and development of your business, particularly at a time of high competition for top talent cannot be underestimated. Culture isn’t some HR buzz word, it’s the entire way your company does business, inside and out.”

Happy Independence Day!

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 04/07/2017
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As many of our diaspora celebrate Independence Day in the US today, the Accreate team marked the occasion alongside almost 600 other attendees at a special lunch in the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge. Mark Redmond, CEO of the American Chamber, hosted the event and was joined on stage by an esteemed panel of speakers including Reece Smyth, Chargé d’Affaires from the US Embassy. Sponsors AIB were represented by Mick Murray, Head of their Corporate Banking division and James O’Connor (Managing Director, Microsoft EMEA Operations Centre) spoke in his capacity as President of the American Chamber. As expected, the overiding theme of their respective short speeches was on the significant and enduring ties that connect both countries. Indeed, the relationship is a symbiotic one; Ireland is home to 150,000 people working for US companies and Irish firms in the US employ almost as many people as US companies do in Ireland. The linkages extend well beyond the world of business and permeate all aspects of our lives including culture and the arts.

Today’s event also provided an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of Loretta Brennan Glucksman (pictured above), an inspirational ambassador for both countries who has worked for over 30 years to promote the Irish culture and to establish strong ties between America and Ireland; in recognition of her achievements, Loretta was awarded the prestigious Kennedy-Lemass medal. She is currently co-chair on Ireland House’s advisory board and is also Chairman of The American Ireland Fund. She has also played a key role in philanthropic efforts and serves on the boards of The National Gallery of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and the Royal Irish Academy.

The underlying message at today’s gathering was that connectivity is key. While 4th July is synonymous with independence, James O’Connor referred to the fact that we also need to recognise the interdependence between both countries. It is in our joint interests that we continue to consolidate our bond and forge long lasting relationships into the future. Despite the shockwaves produced by last year’s Brexit decision and the uncertainty resulting from the change in the US administration, the ties that bind the US and Ireland continue to grow from strength to strength. Ireland remains a destination of choice for US companies due to its highly educated and talented workforce. A recent study by the American Chamber highlighted that there are in excess of 700 US companies here and the US is the single largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland. In short, despite these uncertain times, positivity is paramount and we should adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach.

Happy Independence Day!

Fintech and Brexit

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 29/06/2017
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At this week’s “The Future of Fintech” event hosted by BITA, panels of speakers gave their particular insights into the Fintech industry in Ireland and UK, and further afield with a particular emphasis on the impact of Brexit on sector trends, outlooks and opportunities.

John Colgan, CEO at Solgari, commented on the growing trend of large incumbent financial institutions to replace their innovation and R&D budgets with M&A Budgets. They are slowly recognising that buying a small niche organisation that has developed specialist technologies that can meet pieces of their overall technology and customer requirements is far more efficient in both money and resource than trying to create this technology in-house.

The panel speaking to the RegTech industry were unanimous in their view that Brexit holds myriad opportunities for RegTech. Simply put, regulatory change on this scale requires major technological innovation, input and development. Even today, 15% of large financial institutions costs are mired in regulation and compliance. John Bynre, CEO Corlytics believes that Ireland’s advantage lies in the RegTech talent cluster that has developed here going right back to the Norkom days.

For me, some of the most interesting insights were shared by Anna Scally, International Tax Partner with KPMG. Anna also is KPMG’s Head of Technology and Media and their FinTech Lead in Ireland. She referred to KPMG’s quarterly “Pulse of Fintech” which, as its title intimates, measures trends in funding and investment activity in the sector. The UK continues to hold position as the world’s financial capital. The UK’s Fintech sector’s continued activity over the past four quarters, also indicates that, so far any Brexit related uncertainty has not negatively impacted the flow of transactions in the sector there. Anna was quick to point out that the next Quarters results soon to be released will be critical in assessing whether this trend is set to continue.

In addition, the volume and value of deals seem to be realigning to more traditional Fintech activity in payments and loans. Investors feel safer around well-tested consumer requirements and also, are more cautious in looking for well-defined business models and well-developed executive talent in their leadership teams.

Specifically on Ireland in the same quarter, KPMG reports that Ireland continued to grow as a Fintech centre with notably Fenergo’s announcement in March of this year to expand, creating 200 jobs over the next 12-18 months. In addition, regional office set-ups of overseas firms such as Kabbage were announced.

In FinTech as in overall Financial Services, the expectation remains that Ireland should benefit from Brexit in its position as a potential bridge location to both the UK and Europe. Whether this expectation is realised, remains to be proven. Ireland as a Fintech location, as with all sectors, still needs to be a viable and competitive option when it comes to socio-economic factors such as high rates of personal taxation, lack of schooling and housing as well as the availability of the right leadership talent to entice companies to locate here.

Ireland’s Got Talent

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 23/06/2017
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As formal Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK kicked off this week and the ESRI reported that a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit could cost Ireland up to €200m a year and result in 49,000 less jobs, the financial services sector continued to offer a silver lining.

After some initial setbacks when large insurers like AIG, RSA, Lloyds and QBE chose Luxembourg and Brussels for their new EU bases, there has been better news for Dublin in recent weeks. Beazley and Aviva plan to expand existing operations, Legal & General announced a new base here for its investment management division and most recently speciality insurer Chaucer said Dublin would be its EU headquarters. It was also reported that JP Morgan was looking for additional office space, to accommodate another 700 workers, over and above the 1,000 that will be based in its new offices currently under construction in the South Docklands.

At Accreate, we have been consistently, if cautiously, optimistic about the potential for the development of the financial services sector here in the wake of Brexit. This is because from day one we have seen a very significant number of enquiries from financial firms. Despite negative and ill-informed media reports that have focused on issues like infrastructure and the lack of international schools, the three key questions firms are concerned with are regulation, office space and the availability of talent.

Most firms we have spoken to intend to first relocate senior people from London who will then build out teams by way of local recruitment. They initially expressed concerns about their ability to access the right talent locally, reflecting an international perception that Ireland has not been particularly strong in the mainly middle and front office activities that may relocate here.

To allay these concerns, Accreate recently carried out detailed research on the availability of senior talent in a number of the key disciplines where it is anticipated there will be demand, in particular risk management, compliance, trading, technology and investment management. As part of this, we examined two potential pools of candidates for financial firms establishing or expanding in Ireland - candidates based in Ireland and Irish professionals currently overseas who may be looking to return here.

Overall, we found that there is very strong availability of senior talent across the disciplines examined, both in Ireland and among Irish professionals overseas. In particular, there is a large pool of senior professionals across risk, compliance, tech and investment in Ireland. The UK is the leading current location for Irish professionals overseas across the various disciplines. Furthermore, as Irish professionals abroad tend to be at an earlier stage of their careers, the increased availability of highly skilled financial services roles here post-Brexit may act as a real enticement for them to make the move back home.

Trading is the one discipline where there may be a constraint in Ireland as there has been a dearth of significant trading operations based here until relatively recently. However, compensating for this is the fact that there are a large number of Irish traders currently based overseas who constitute a potential candidate pool for companies looking to establish trading operations here.

For financial firms looking to locate here, our highly-skilled diaspora may be the ultimate ace in Ireland’s pack.

Variety is the spice of Life!

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 09/06/2017
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Change is a word we are all slightly intimidated by, in all aspects of our lives. We are creatures of habit and therefore find change unsettling and sometimes unappealing.

However we should all be doing the complete opposite and embrace change as it is a positive and not a negative.

For example if you don’t like something or how it is done, change it, instead of being negative about how much you dislike something – we all have the power to change.

This change could be a simple concept, process or attitude, the change could be within – how you can change your outlook or how you can change the way you deal with certain people.

The changes you make can be as big or small as you want them to be, if you hate your house – move, if you hate your job – get a new one.

In the workplace, changes compel individuals to think in new and exciting ways. Creative thinking benefits the workplace with the development of many innovations and ideas that can be utilised to keep the company fluid, exciting and fruitful. A monotonous job bores employees who need to be given variety to excel.

Change often provides the refreshment a worker needs to refocus his/her energy and increase his/her interest. Without change, business leaders still would be dictating correspondence to secretaries, editing their words and sending them back to the drawing board, wasting time for all involved.

As we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do are significant others and families, it is vital that we have a happy work environment and like what we’re doing.

I read this great blog in Forbes - 5 Ways To Be Happier At Work, by Jeff Stribel.

I agree with Jeff, if you don’t like what you’re doing, stop doing it. Life is too short not be happy.

On that note, you know where to reach us if you’re looking to change jobs or seek new employees - and I will leave you with this quote.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”


Leadership tips from Ross Kennedy, Managing Director and GM International, Liferay

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 30/05/2017
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My approach to planning is ... Glen Robson, an visionary mentor early in my career, once told me that all complex problems boil down to a single question. The quality of your attack plan depends on how well you define that question.

My approach to building trust is complete (even socially awkward) honesty.

My secret to fostering accountability is to start with the end in mind and work backward, having them set define the path to the targets. With the purpose agreed, it’s rare to find a tremendous gap in means to achieve those ends.

My advice on managing difficult people is … I manage resources that cover 97 countries, many of which have been a political odds for centuries: culture, currencies, economies. Still, it’s rare a personal disconnect happens because your goals differ from one another, but rather that you see different paths for accomplishing an often similar result. Always start with what you have in common.

My approach to leading through change is to begin with a single, indisputable, core purpose - and return to that frequently.

My secret to ensuring I continue to grow and develop as a leader is to continually challenge myself. From taking extra courses, volunteering, and signing up for new initiatives at work I try to constantly press my limits.

The biggest challenge facing my industry today is digital transformation is taking on many different faces. From automated vehicles to predictive analytics, the way we engage the world around us is rapidly changing. This presents critical questions around data security for the industry. Recent revelations from government agencies, increased cyber threats, and the increased digital footprint each of us has, leaves the quickly emerging field of players in digital transformation exposed as they attempt to buy their way into peripheral markets and cobble together technologies. We’re fortunate that we’ve built everything in-house, minimising the downsides that come with blending a bunch of different products not originally built to work together.

The greatest opportunity available to my industry today is to turn our advances into digital transformation into a positive force for socially and economically disadvantaged populations. From making available basic education to the poorest 1 billion, to tearing down discrimination through increased exposure, digital transformation can serve as a catalyst for positive, lasting, change.

If you could step into the shoes of one person for the day, who would it be and why? Chris Hadfield, decorated Canadian astronaut. What can I say, I’m a space-nerd.

Sinéad McSweeney in conversation with the Dublin Chamber Technology Forum

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 04/05/2017
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I went along this morning to the Dublin Chamber’s Technology Forum series, today featuring Sinéad McSweeney, VP Public Policy and Communications EMEA and MD of Twitter Ireland. As a Headhunter I always find career paths fascinating, particularly when they perhaps do not follow a traditional linear path, and Sinead’s is no exception.

Having trained as a barrister, Sinead went on to become Special Adviser to the Office of the Attorney General in Ireland. Interestingly one of her subsequent career moves was prompted by her viewing an Irish TV drama which featured as a character a civilian Head of Communications for the Irish police force and she remembers commenting “I would love that job” – even though such an opportunity at that time was reserved exclusively for members of the force. 24 hours later her husband pointed out a newspaper advertisement for the same role, but in Northern Ireland. Although she doubted her qualifications – she says in typical female fashion - she was successful in her application and became Director of Media and Public Relations with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Following that she landed the role in the republic as Director of Communications with An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force).

An early adopter of Twitter as a communications tool in the irish police force, Sinead became then an advocate and educator on the benefits of using Twitter in government departments to communicate with the public. This was a seismic shift in the sector. When she first suggested using a Twitter element in a communications campaign her then boss, Fachtna Murphy said something along the lines of - A Police Commissioner does not say the word “Twitter”.

Sinead described her frustration in dealing with crime journalists in particular as a key catalyst for her to seek out something different which prompted her to join Twitter as Senior Director, Public Policy EMEA in 2012. Now, alongside her role as VP, Public Policy and Communications, EMEA with Twitter Sinead also runs the Irish Twitter operation as Managing Director.

Sinead’s number one tip to businesses using Twitter is to engage with their audience - information “out” is no longer enough.

From her fascinating career story what struck me was Sinead’s singleness of purpose and this is something I come across time and again with the most successful executives. The most successful people I have met to date in my career in Executive Search know what they want – even if at the outset their wish or vision for their career remains in the realm of the intangible to begin with, through their persistence and discipline, they get to a very close version of that ambition along the way.

So, in the words of Bill Clinton: “Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t turn back”.

Home fires beckoning? Tips for overseas talent seeking to return to Ireland

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 12/04/2017
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The fact that Finance Minister Michael Noonan upgraded Ireland’s economic forecasts at a Central Bank conference earlier this week is likely to further entice increasing numbers of our diaspora to return. It is now projected that GDP will expand by 4.3% in 2017, compared to the 3.5% figure proposed last October. The Minister also noted that the economy is set to grow by 3.7% next year, correcting a previous estimate of 3.4%.

Against this positive backdrop, it is not surprising that we at Accreate are seeing a marked increase in enquiries from senior level executives who have spent a number of years working overseas and are now keen to move back home with their families. Many of them will have gained career-enhancing experience during their time abroad and their skillsets are highly sought after. Indeed, in some industries, international exposure and the willingness to be ‘travel agnostic’ is almost a ‘rite of passage’. So how do these top performers set about securing roles in Ireland, having been ‘out of the market’ for quite some time? Some initial tips in terms of exploring opportunities here are set out below:

  • It is imperative that the decision to relocate is met with the consensus of the entire family from the outset. It is extremely frustrating for prospective employers when individuals enter into a lengthy hiring process but later withdraw at the eleventh hour since their spouse or children are resistant to a move
  • After ensuring that all interested parties are ‘on board’ with the decision to relocate, the individual seeking a new role should reach out to their chosen contact in Ireland over the phone or in the form of an introductory e-mail. Important information to provide at this juncture should include an outline regarding their preferred type of role, anticipated timeframe for a move, chosen location and current salary details. They should also furnish an up-to-date CV (ideally 4 pages maximum)
  • If planning a trip home for summer holidays or another family occasion in advance of the more permanent ‘relocation’, it’s worthwhile freeing up some time in your diary to meet with your executive search provider in person - this will cement relationships and serve to refocus your search
  • Initial screening meetings to assess potential suitability for roles can be conducted over the phone or online if a face to face meeting is not feasible
  • Likewise, first round corporate interviews can be (and regularly are) conducted over the phone or via skype/video conferencing
  • If successful, face to face meetings are the preferred option for those who are invited back for second round and subsequent interviews; hiring companies will typically absorb the costs of this trip (including flights and accommodation - their travel teams are likely to organise the logistics; alternatively, the interviewee may pay upfront and will be reimbursed)
  • If a job offer is made, remuneration packages for senior level hires moving back to Ireland from an international location will typically include relocation expenses. This term is broad in scope and usually includes (but is not limited to) flights for the individual and their spouse/children, packing and shipping of belongings, storage costs and even movement of household pets. Large firms will engage the services of relocation experts to ensure the transition is as streamlined and hassle-free as possible. In some cases, accommodation costs may also be paid by the company for the first number of months.

Of course, not all employees who come to Ireland for work are originally from here; some may have been directly sourced due to their particular skillsets and, in these cases, a similar pattern to that set out above would apply in terms of their relocation. An added consideration is to ensure that visas/work permits, where relevant, are in place well in advance.

For an initial consultation in relation to your senior level job search, feel free to contact any of the Accreate team on +353 1 522 5400. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ireland’s desire for EMA success

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 06/04/2017
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Post Brexit, it’s looking like the first European agency to relocate will be the European Medicines Agency. A decision is expected sometime this summer and out of the over 20 applicants to host the agency, Ireland has been one of the stronger contenders in a bid to win the 1000 employee regulator. The implications for Ireland in attracting the agency to the emerald isle could be huge. This is an agency which holds tremendous power in regulating an over €260 billion industry.

Our UK counterparts have benefitted substantially from housing the agency since John Major attracted them to Canary Wharf in the 1990’s. The scientific development community has grown rapidly with many multinational pharmaceutical businesses choosing to base their R&D centres close to the EMA. A number of Japanese companies have already intimated that they will move to whatever location the EMA chooses to be based. Even from a regulatory point of view, UK regulators have always had a greater influence on European regulation. As a highly respected agency, the HPRA would be hopeful to have a similar influence, if based in Dublin.

Minister Simon Harris along with the IDA and the HPRA have been leading the charge on this campaign with strong support from the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. It’s very much a case of team Ireland coming together and ensuring we present the best that we have to offer the EMA. However, whilst we’re excellent at outlining our strong points, we’re not all that adept at addressing our weaker points and outlining short, medium and long term plans to overcome these. My fear is that it won’t be our lack of transport, housing, adequate schooling or high income tax rates which will be our undoing. It will be that we will turn a blind eye to our short-comings and fail to put forward a dedicated strategy for how we would overcome these issues, should the EMA choose Dublin as a location.

Other EU countries will not be afraid to point to our weaker points and lack of planning and we should be ready to fight our corner and hit back with our own sniping criticisms. It’s certainly a time to pull together our most fervent debaters to win this most valuable of arguments for the Irish economy and it’s up to all of us in industry, the media and in government to ensure that the powers that be know how passionate we are about winning this bid.

Race to the Bottom?

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 31/03/2017
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In the week in which Theresa May triggered Brexit and the 730 days until a deal is (or is not) done started ticking, there were some very mixed signals about what the impact might be for Ireland’s economy and jobs market.

While the PM’s letter set a conciliatory tone, there was a hidden threat - agree a deal or Britain might well cease cooperation on security issues. At issue is the risk that no deal means that Britain crashes out of the EU and reverts to World Trade Organisation rules with the return of tariffs on Irish exports and potentially a hard border with Northern Ireland.

Even with a deal, the fact that Britain has already signalled that it will be leaving the single market and the customs union and with any future free trade agreement with the EU many years down the road, it is almost guaranteed that there will be a disruption in our trade with the UK from 2019 onwards and Irish food producers and the agri-food sector, in particular, will face a significant decline in their competitiveness. Already, the decline in sterling has reduced our food trade with the UK by over 5% in the past year.

One saving grace here is that the likelihood of the UK concluding a trade agreement with third country agricultural competitors like New Zealand, Brazil and Australia in the short to medium term is low. However, a significant period of adjustment lies ahead for our agri-food sector and the Government must ensure that any business that suffers from the reimposition of trade barriers receive State assistance to get through the period of adjustment.

The only positive fallout from Brexit for our economy is the likelihood of increased levels of financial services jobs as companies relocate their parts of their business to cope with Britain’s expected exit from the single market. We are certainly seeing an increase in the levels of inquiries by potential employers and the seniority of the roles being considered. However, here again, there were distinctly mixed signals about our ability to take advantage of the post-Brexit carve up.

On the positive side, Dublin was ranked fifth among Eurozone financial services centres, according to the latest Z/Yen Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 21), a ranking that puts us at the top table when competing for jobs.

However, there was also a disappointment, with the decisions of both global insurer AIG and London insurance market Lloyds to opt for Luxembourg and Brussels rather than Dublin for their new EU subsidiaries. Of more concern was that the reason given in both cases was that greater regulatory flexibility was available than in Dublin. In particular, Brussels and Luxembourg showed more flexibility on capital, allowing Lloyd’s to use reinsurance to transfer a larger amount of capital needed for an EU subsidiary back to its London headquarters.

Of course this won’t be the last time that we lose out in the post-Brexit race and there remain many positive signs with the likes of JPMorgan Chase said to be close to identifying premises for a major expansion in Dublin and there will presumably be more who reveal their hands now that the race against time for a deal has begun.

However, the fact that other financial centres are in a position to offer greater regulatory flexibility is a real concern - one that Minister Eoghan Murphy and MEP Brian Hayes have been raising publicly in recent weeks. In reply, the Daniele Nouy Chair of the ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism agreed that the relocation of London-based banks ‘should not be an opportunity for a race to the bottom’ in terms of relaxation of banking or regulatory standards. However, the rhetoric from the ECB appears to be running up against the reality of a deliberate regulatory approach from certain other member states, who are keen to deliver the greatest possible Brexit dividend for their financial centres and couldn’t care less about our concerns.

As the EU-27 move towards finalising their overall negotiating position with the UK in advance of the European Council meeting on 29 April, regulatory competition and the race to the bottom is an issue that Ireland needs to get to the very top of the agenda at the highest level. Otherwise, Brexit will be delivering the worst possible outcome for this country.

To Thine own self be true: Shakespeare’s words applied to Aviation and Banking

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 24/03/2017
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I read with interest this week of the launch by IAG of a low-cost long-haul airline and was surprised to note that it was greeted with comments that this could be a key staging post in the development of the growing trend for cheaper and longer flights. People have short memories. Remember “GO” the low cost airline of British Airways - it was sold to Easyjet for a song. Likewise “Buzz” a low cost effort by KLM, sold to Ryanair at a bargain basement price. Let’s just say, the two radically different business models of a “Full Service” airline with its complex fleets, global reach, high employee per passenger ratios (the list is endless) should never try to compete with this model versus a sleek and (despite its size) nimble, pure low cost model like Ryanair.

This put me in mind of my ongoing work with Ireland’s larger Banks assisting them to build out their top Technology talent. I have learned that all established banks, by virtue of their length of existence have had to bolt on different technology platforms and infrastructure in order to grow. These mammoth core platforms do not open themselves easily to change and transformation. Like the “traditional airlines” seeking to compete in niches with business models that are not fit for purpose we see “traditional” banks grappling with the world of Digital, appointing digital officers, formulating strategies to deliver a miraculous “transformation” through innovation pods or labs…or so it seems.

Banks are intrinsically slow movers and, we could argue, rightly so as their raison d’etre is to provide core banking services in a highly regulated environment providing assurity, reliability and security for their customers. Do we really want them to be experimental – even if their embedded culture, systems and process would allow them to be?

Just as the “traditional” airlines looked at Ryanair and Easyjet with fear and responded with attempts to deliver a similar product to the consumer but delivered with their very different (and significantly more costly) business models, Banks today are looking to emulate some of the more transformational, user friendly, digitally enabled technologies and user experiences that Fintechs are developing. But let’s remember, each small Fintech company is purely focussed on often a single technology looking at for example, a particular point in the chain of a payment experience. They are nimble and quick because their lense of focus is very narrow in comparison to a large Bank and they are operating with radically different talent mind-sets.

Given the complexity of a Bank’s organisational model the solution may lie in embracing fintechs and buying in their expertise to keep them current and ahead of the competitive field. The Banks that come up with a solution whereby they can assess, import and integrate the best technologies to match their customer propositions stand the best chance of growth and success.

Of course organisations need to respond and anticipate to changing environments and ever more demanding consumer requirements. But, a word of caution. The most successful organisations know what they are good at and stick to relentlessly, even ruthlessly. I often recall Michael O’Leary commenting when asked what the biggest risk to Ryanair was in ca. 2006 – he said “Our greatest risk is ourselves, that we take the eye off the ball”. By this he meant – stay focussed, play to and build on your strengths. Allow nothing to distract you. Play in the space in which you are set up for success. To thy own self be true.

A Woman’s Work

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 06/03/2017
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As the 8 of March is International Women’s Day, it’s worth your while reading the following stats ‘slowly’:

*One in ten directors of Irish plcs are women.

*10% of ISEQ Boards Directors are Women.

Thirty five female TDs were elected to Dáil Éireann in 2016 – which is a record amount and that necessitated gender quotas to reach such a level.

With the above in mind it is no wonder that we at Accreate were delighted to become the main sponsors of Beta Bajgart’s topical and timely publication, ‘A woman’s work’ to be launched in Dublin Castle this Wednesday.

Beta Bajgart – is a professional freelance photographer based in Dublin. Originally from the Czech Republic she has made Ireland her home from home since 2004. Her book -‘A Woman’s Work’ is well over a year in the making and it saw Beta travel the island of Ireland in search of 53 unique women which she has magically captured in 53 equally unique and stunning portraits. Each of which beautifully portrays women successfully at work in creative, unusual and (let’s face it) predominantly male professions.

Beta’s stylish coffee table collection documents the modern women’s struggle to embrace their creative and professional passions.

All women are photographed in their working environment. Most of the women photographed by Beta are Irish, but Bulgarian, Czech, English, Swedish, French, Danish and women from other nationalities feature too. All are working in Ireland with just two being based in England.

All proceeds from the book will go to the charitable organisation National Women’s Council of Ireland, which since 1973 has been seeking equality between men and women, along with supporting women in education, health care and economic independence.

In June 2016 Accreate participated with IBEC and the 30% club in the launch of the Voluntary Code of Conduct. ‘Recruitment and Executive Search Firms who are involved in senior level recruitment. This initiative is another tool to help organisations achieve gender balance in decision-making roles and hire the right candidate for the job, male or female, from 100% of the talent pool. ‘

We are committed to improving gender balance, and share best practice across all industries.

Happy International Women’s day from the team at Accreate.

*Stats from Catalyst (a global no profit organisation), working to advance women into leadership.

Marching through 2017 - the story so far…

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 02/03/2017
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Towards the end of 2016 we speculated as to the potential fallout from the Brexit vote and the likely impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on executive level hiring trends in Ireland. While it is still too early to predict with any degree of accuracy, we have seen no significant abatement in activity at the senior end of the market so far in 2017. While some organisations may be cautious in terms of further increasing headcount, the majority of companies appear to have adopted a ‘business as usual’ approach and are forging ahead with their growth plans. In particular, the global brands who have established a significant presence here have shown no initial signs of slowing down. Whilst it is not yet possible to quantify the extent of new employment coming from the UK, it appears that this is highly likely across a number of sectors, particularly in the Financial Services industry. From a US perspective, the outlook for FDI remains to be seen.

We are witnessing a continued willingness on the part of domestic and international companies to invest significantly in terms of recruiting and retaining top leadership talent, with remuneration packages on a steady upward trajectory. As before, niche roles and sought-after skillsets are attracting a premium. Basic salaries remain increasingly competitive, as are the complex bonus structures and attractive equity plans on offer. Relocation fees, where applicable, are also covered by many hiring organisations. Sign-on bonuses, which were largely unheard of during the downturn, have been reinstated as a regular feature at the senior end of the market, particularly in the MNC space; their purpose is to compensate a new employee for the loss of a lucrative bonus payment which would have been forthcoming had they remained with their previous company for a certain period of time - consequently, they negate the requirement to delay start dates unduly.

With Irish unemployment figures hitting a nine year low of 6.6% in February (this statistic is expected to fall to below 6% by the middle of the year) and the country experiencing positive net inward migration in 2016, it appears that the overall story (spanning all levels of the market) is a relatively upbeat one. However, the geographical divide remains pronounced; as the main commercial hub, Dublin continues to benefit significantly more in terms of job creation than elsewhere in the country. Despite efforts being made to address the issue, this trend is unlikely to be reversed for the foreseeable future.

Great outlook for tourism in 2017

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 08/02/2017
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On Thursday the 29th of December 2016 the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) held a press event in Buswells Hotel where they issued the following press release – “Review of 2016 & Outlook for 2017 as Industry Publishes Roadmap for Growth to 2025”. The ITIC is the representative body of the Irish tourist industry. It is an umbrella group comprising the wider tourism and hospitality industry. The ITIC is the voice of Irish tourism and at the end of each calendar year they release relevant figures and predictions pertaining to this sector.

The press release quotes the ITIC chairman, Paul Gallagher’s assertion that 2016 provided a record number of visitors and that a further 20,000 new jobs had been created in the sector. Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of the ITIC was also quoted, confirming that 2016 performed well and that it is vital to put a plan in place to sustain such growth in this sector.

For example ‘Capacity Crunch’ highlights that a shortage of hotel capacity in Dublin and other urban areas will limit the volume of visitors coming to Ireland and needs to be addressed urgently. This point is further backed up with a quote from the ITIC Chairman, Paul Gallagher concerning hotels being booked out and people not being able to find accommodation.

The release goes on to provide a positive outlook for 2017 and delivers further data by the ITIC. However it warns that growth is not guaranteed, with much work and further strategies needing to be pursued. Throughout the press release it is stated that there is a need for government to do more, enacting pertinent strategies and timely pro-tourism policies.

Brexit is factored into the release, where it is highlighted as a major concern. This in itself is a very current and relevant point which features daily in all areas of the media. Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of the ITIC is quoted in saying that “A hard Brexit would be damaging to Irish tourism”.

To tie in with the main heading the press release concludes with “A Roadmap for Tourism Growth” which leaves one with a confident and positive outlook for the future in Irish tourism, boasting a €7 billion annual industry by 2025.

This press release received great follow on media coverage. The Irish Examiner ran a story on Thursday, December 29th 2016, titled ‘Irish Tourist Industry Confederation predicts 50,000 new hospitality jobs by 2025.’ This was a very positive story concentrating on substantial job and monetary growth backed up with a quote by Paul Gallagher, Chairman, ITIC; ‘In layman’s terms that is about 50,000 new jobs in hospitality in Ireland and about €7bn in receipts to the exchequer.’

The Irish Times took a different approach to the release and ran the following story on Thursday, December 29th 2016 with the heading ‘Tourism group says terror attacks boosted visits to Ireland’. The Irish Times focused on the terror attacks elsewhere in Europe as having a positive effect on Irish tourism because tourists felt safe coming to Ireland. Again Paul Gallagher, Chairman, ITIC was quoted; “In northern Europe, Ireland has been one of the main beneficiaries of people feeling insecure because it’s very secure here . . . Obviously we would wish for no more attacks and for everywhere to be safe but that’s the environment we live in”.

The key message is clear, our tourism industry is booming, and has the prospect to grow and create substantial revenue and jobs for Ireland, but only if the government realise this potential in time and backs tourism accordingly.

Finance Gets Its Mojo Back

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 26/01/2017
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The people formerly known as the Masters of the Universe - now just plain financiers - rolled into town this week for the annual European Financial Forum, a gathering of everyone who’s anyone in the global financial sector convivially hosted in Dublin Castle by our impressive Minister for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy and the Financial Times.

For the sector, it has been a traumatic decade. After all, 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Northern Rock, prompting the first bank run in Britain in a century. We are all familiar with what unfolded next, as the global financial crisis morphed into the Great Recession and the bail outs, restructurings, austerity, asset market booms and inequality triggered by ultra-loose monetary policy that many now blame for the political populism of 2016 that delivered Brexit and Trump.

The pivotal events of last year were elegantly encapsulated by Eoghan Murphy, channelling Lenin, to wit “there are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks in which decades happen.”

However political uncertainty aside, the dominant mood and theme in the room was that the financial sector and the broader economy have at last put the challenges of the past behind them and may be about to enter a new phase of investment, growth and employment.

This bullish tone was best articulated by former governor of the Swiss Central Bank, Philipp Hildebrand - now Vice Chair of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager and new employer of former British Chancellor, George Osborne.

Hildebrand sees the most realistic prospects for reflation in the global economy in a decade - meaning the huge fiscal stimulus and tax cuts expected in the US and the gradual move away from austerity and deflation in Europe create the best conditions for broad and sustained economic growth in a decade.

The known unknown is how companies will respond to these conditions? The cheap money of the past decade has failed to stimulate corporate investment - mainly because of a lack of sustained demand. Instead, companies have used the opportunity to reduce debt and reward shareholders with buybacks.

For reflation to lead to a period of sustained economic expansion according to Hildebrand, the missing piece of the jigsaw will be the re-emergence of Keynes’ long-dormant ‘animal spirits’ - the confidence factor that drives investment, growth and employment. These spirits have been absent for many years - to listen to Hildebrand and watch the Dow reach 20,000 for the first time this week you might conclude that they are on the way back. Time will tell whether what we are seeing is just a short-term ‘sugar high’ due to changes in US policy or whether this time the recovery really is real.

What does all this mean for Ireland and jobs in the financial services sector here? Clearly Brexit looms into view. The majority view among people I spoke to was that the government is playing a smart game in leveraging the opportunities Brexit might present for financial services by avoiding the love-bombing that Paris and Frankfurt have engaged in.

Instead, Ireland’s strategy rests on the assumption that the City will remain Europe’s financial centre and seeks to position Dublin as a natural partner that will both compete with and complement London for investment and jobs. It is a subtle approach that hopefully puts Dublin in a position to steadily grow employment in the financial sector over the next decade.

However success is by no means assured, and amidst the positivity the biggest concern people in the sector have is that the government has missed a trick in its IFS2020 strategy by not focussing sufficiently on attracting higher-value and more sustainable jobs here. If the limit of our ambitions is to continue to be Europe’s back office for financial services, then one of the biggest open goals in our recent economic history will have been missed!

New Year, Same Goals

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 18/01/2017
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There is always a period of acclimatisation in the first week or two of January, which is quickly followed by frantic planning and goal setting. For many, this is simply an exercise in cut and paste from the previous year.

Dropping down to my gym this week, I saw many old but familiar faces. The same people I had seen day in, day out for the first 3 months of 2016. There were times I had wondered whether some of them lived in the gym. Whether I attended early evening, later at night or even on a Sunday afternoon, they always seemed to be there. After the first two or three months, they had really changed shape but then nothing. Had they found a better gym? Moved house? Built a gym at home? Upon seeing them now at the beginning of a new year, I can tell that it was none of the above.

There’s a collective buzz at this time of year when people are refreshed from the break over the holidays, focused on sticking to their New Year’s resolutions and motivated by the group mentality in work or with the family. We’re fortunate if this can be maintained past January, never mind the first three months of the year. Why can we not maintain this through the year? We spend the same amount of time in work, have the same responsibilities at home and have the same energy levels as any other time of the year.

We’re too fast off the starting line and see it as a sprint to achieving our goals rather than maintaining a sustainable rate of change which can fit comfortably with our lives outside of these goals. This goes for work too. Trying to do much, too early will result in little being accomplished. A steady, sustainable path with milestones spread out throughout the year is a far more manageable task. Looking at setting about completing the steps needed to get to where we would like to be professionally, personally and athletically in one year’s time instead of trying to accomplish this in just one or two months.

So my advice when you’re setting your goals…..think lifestyle change long-term achievements, not crash dieting and quick wins. You’ll get a lot further!

2017 Accreate - Executive Search Salary Guide

Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 01/01/2017
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Continued high level of demand for ‘C’ suite executives across all industry sectors.

Accreate is the executive search division of the Morgan McKinley Group and is the only Irish executive search firm with extensive international reach through our global office network. We partner with client organisations on a retained and exclusive basis to find the optimum talent for critical and transformational leadership roles at board and ‘head of function’ level.

Ireland’s improving economic climate in 2016 contributed to very buoyant activity in terms of executive search and we saw a return to previous levels of hiring, last witnessed almost a decade ago.

Executive Search

Role Ireland
CEO 160k - 300k
COO 140k - 260k
Head of Risk & Compliance 160k - 230k
VP/Operations Director 140k - 220k
VP/Manufucturing Director 130k - 190k
Treasury Director 130k - 200k
VP/Engineering Director 120k - 170k
Business Development Director 120k - 150k
Head of Audit 120k - 160k
VP/Supply Chain Director 110k - 140k
Chief Technical Officer 110k - 180k
Chief Financial Officer 100k - 180k
VP/Sales Director 90k - 140k
VP/HR Director 90k - 150k

Commentary on Executive Search in Accreate for 2017

Our domestic and international talent pool is made up of both active and passive candidates and, in a reversal of recent trends, there was a significant increase in the number of ‘C’ suite professionals who were active and seeking new opportunities. In many cases, these were Irish people who had traveled overseas during the downturn, gained career-enhancing international experience, and were keen to relocate back to Ireland with their families. Having assisted a number of individuals based in countries such as the US and Australia to secure roles back in Ireland, we look forward to welcoming more home in 2017.

While the fallout from the Brexit vote has given rise to much uncertainty regarding the economic landscape for 2017 and beyond, we have noted a marked uplift of roles in the financial services sector. Further afield, it is too early to predict the likely impact of the recent US Presidential election, although businesses may be more tentative in terms of hiring in the initial stages of the year while the new administration settles. However, the global brands who have established a significant presence in Ireland have shown no signs of slowing down. Interest in hiring new talent has been particularly strong in the life sciences sector, which accounted for the highest percentage of senior level appointments we handled in 2016.

As we look to 2017 we have also observed a much greater willingness on the part of larger companies to invest more both in terms of recruiting and retaining top talent. Remuneration packages are continuing to climb, reflecting unique skillsets. Bonus structures and attractive equity plans supplement the higher basic salaries on offer. Senior executives are more confident than ever about their worth and expect to be rewarded accordingly. In the past, they may have felt obliged to postpone moving jobs for a number of months to avoid losing out on a lucrative annual bonus payment, this is no longer the case. The current trend is that the hiring company will compensate them in full, in the form of a once-off sign-on bonus payment, so that start dates are not delayed. Again, this is evidence of the premium that will be paid for highly sought after candidates whose intrinsic value to a company extends much further than their salaries suggest.

The one minute PhD in Communications!

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 09/12/2016
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This week in college the evening communications lecture focused on leadership and the importance of effective communications in the work place.

All of the students in my class work full time while attending college at night and have like us all, plenty of experience of both good and bad communications in the work place.

Solid communication can be broken down into intrapersonal skills i.e. the knowledge on oneself and why we behave the way we do and interpersonal skills i.e. how we communicate with each other.

In the workplace solid and effective communication relies totally on peoples interpersonal skills and it is so vital to all of our businesses and work practices it is important that we fine tune it if and where necessary.

Our communications lecturer has 30+ years of experience advising both large organisations and individuals on the subject of effective communication. For her in essence it is simple - never ever forget the importance of treating people with respect.

So right now do me a favour – take a moment and think of a time in your life when someone (anyone) made you feel awful about yourself, made you feel completely worthless and useless, by their words, their actions or their deeds? Everyone has been made feel like this at some stage and the vital lesson to take from it is again simple yet insightful.

Knowing how truly awful being made feel worthless is, we should make it our personal responsibility to never ever inflict such a feeling on any other human being.

Next, now think of a time when you were made to feel the polar opposite, when you were made feel good about yourself, empowered, confident and capable, ready to take on any challenge. Again the lesson is a simple one, if you have been made to feel like this it is then your human responsibility to ensure you make someone else feel the same too.

Of course communication is a two way street with feedback just as important as the message.

Many people focus on what the other party is or isn’t doing when communication breaks down. They place the blame on them yet doing this means you cease to take full responsibility for the outcome of the interaction.

Instead you need to become acutely aware of what you are doing or saying and the impact that it is having on the interaction. Take ownership of your communication and ask yourself are your behaviours contributing to the breakdown that may be occurring?

Remember, always keep an open mind. How you view things is your reality, based on your perception of events. Do not prejudge people or their input. Pay attention to the words and phrases that you use to minimise the possibility of misunderstandings or misinterpretations occurring. Practice how you listen and pay attention to the other person.

People who feel good about themselves produce good results. These days we are saturated by the tenets of wellbeing being paraded in the work place yet ask ourselves this, how many of us are really applying these recommendations to our daily working lives?

I will leave you with a quote:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”

Corporate presentations - feel the fear & do it anyway!

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 30/11/2016
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It’s well documented that one of the most prevalent phobias in society today is a fear of public speaking. In business, career development can be stifled by a person’s inability to speak confidently and with credibility to a group on a chosen subject. From candidates presenting to a panel in an interview scenario to the CEO hosting a company forum, nerves can leave a lasting impact on discerning listeners. A sales person exhibiting jitters when talking about their product offering may suggest to their audience that they lack conviction about what they’re selling. A Finance Director or Chief Financial Officer stumbling to explain figures to the Board may give the impression that they are unsure as to the veracity of the numbers on the page. Considering the extent of communication necessary to keep an organisation’s cogs turning, it is a major asset to senior leadership personnel - across all disciplines - if they can display confidence when presenting. From meditation and mindfulness to hypnotherapy, a plethora of remedies have been tried and tested to assist people in this regard.

For some, public speaking is an opportunity to shine and they bask in the adulation and attention; for others, there is a certain ‘fear factor’ but this gradually dissipates with lots of practice. However, for the majority, the prospect of speaking in front of an audience appears so daunting that they avoid the scenario and don’t deal with the issue until there’s no getting out of it. For those who fit into the latter category, some useful tips to reduce nerves are as follows:

  • Know your content and prepare meticulously
  • Dress appropriately for your presentation
  • Channel the adrenalin to become a positive force
  • Breathe slowly to promote relaxation
  • Visualise yourself being a success.

As he prepares to leave one of the world’s most high profile roles as US President, we can look to Barack Obama as an exemplary orator and someone to try to emulate in terms of his public speaking prowess. So, whether you expect to have to address a large audience or deliver a corporate presentation in 2017 - or if you’re simply saying a few informal words of thanks to your colleagues at the upcoming Christmas party - let your motto be ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Nerves are commonplace and should not always be viewed negatively. Embrace opportunities to present to your team, then to a wider group within your company and, when your confidence has grown, perhaps volunteer to speak at an event or a conference related to your area of expertise which will increase your professional profile and get you noticed. It’s only by practicing that you’ll perfect the art and, in so doing, you could positively enhance your career development potential along the way!

The High Price of Choosing Wrong

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 11/11/2016
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Every four years, Americans go to the polls to choose their President & Commander in Chief. Essentially POTUS as the secret service call the President (as opposed to FLOTUS for the First Lady) is America’s CEO, the most powerful human in the world and someone who can basically change the course of history – even more when there is a compliant Congress in place as there will be for President-Elect Trump.

In our professional environment, we don’t get into expressing political preferences. That is a matter for personal expression. However, considering the awesome political, economic and military power a US President can exercise, it would seem sensible to expect that a degree of care was brought to bear in the process of deciding who gets the job. This is as much the case in politics as it is in business.

Research published this week by consultants Spencer Stuart looked at the consequences of picking the wrong CEO and made some suggestions on how the process could be improved. According to Harvard Business School, 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months, a number that has remained steady for the past 15 years. With the economic cost of appointing the wrong top leader at global companies estimated at more than $100 billion by PwC, this is something you would think boards have a big incentive to do better.

Spencer Stuart make some practical suggestions to improve a CEO selection process that sets organisations up for failure, including making sure the right people are involved in the selection – not including the outgoing CEO. Manchester United would surely agree with this conclusion given the mess they made of Alex Ferguson’s succession – in which Ferguson himself played a key role. Other findings by Spencer Stuart are that the board may not be equipped to evaluate CEO candidates and need to draw more on experts with a history of executive assessment, that the criteria for the new CEO often doesn’t align with the organisation’s strategic goals and that the selection process is often overly long thereby undermining its effectiveness.

Applying these lessons to the presidential selection, perhaps the democratic establishment was too involved in picking Hilary as candidate as opposed to a fresher voice like Elizabeth Warren? It’s certainly the case that VP Joe Biden, who may have done better than Hilary among the crucial white working class vote in swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, was probably ruled out too early.

Hilary was the “most qualified candidate ever” to be US President according to Obama, whereas Trump was the least – the only President not to have previously worked in public service or the military. However, the electorate was clearly looking for change and not experience – so the criteria that the selection committee saw as key were not shared by the people making the decision.

The so-called ‘permanent campaign’ is now a central feature of US politics; as soon as one election cycle ends another begins. Presidential campaigns are now way too long, cost too much and ultimately produce more heat than light. A shorter, sharper process might connect better with the voters and achieve a better outcome, but there is no appetite on any side of the political divide to change this, so we are stuck with the permanent campaign.

What is often not appreciated is how narrow is the ground upon which US presidential elections are fought. Most states don’t switch from Blue to Red over time, so elections are won or lost on small shifts in the so-called swing states of the North and Mid-Western rustbelt. The white working class voters in these states supported Obama and were crucial to his path to victory in both ’08 and ’12, but they switched to Trump this time around; on both occasions, what they were looking for in their candidate was change, something Obama delivered in the past and Trump offered now. Hilary by contrast represented the status quo they were in open revolt against.

These so-called ‘low information’ voters who don’t pay much attention to the minutiae of politics may not be equipped to evaluate candidates in the eyes of the liberal elite, much of the media or western governments who are appalled at the choice they have made to elect Trump. However, unlike the corporate world, the option of changing the decision makers is not available in a democracy – try as they might the people who look down on those who voted Trump can’t abolish them!

The many who feel America has made the wrong choice would instead be much better off figuring out how a better choice can be made in 2020 and comfort themselves with the fact that, much like CEOs, nearly all political careers end in failure.

It’s not all about Christmas

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 04/11/2016
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Christmas may be on the horizon but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! I’ve always found it fascinating that as a race, that we are becoming increasingly infatuated with focussing on the next holiday, the next milestone or the next event, whatever that may be. Within the three days since Halloween, I have constantly been hearing about how Christmas is nearly here, only to find myself reiterating the same thing. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, I love the festivities, spending time with immediate and extended family, being in the city centre when there is a real buzz about doing the Christmas shopping and heading for a drink in a cosy Irish pub to warm back up after the arduous shopping spree. However, this got me thinking. I find we often forget about right now, the moment we are all currently living in. Many would be all too willing to press the fast forward button and skip the intervening period, landing straight onto Christmas Day, opening our gifts with a glass of sherry.

If I equate this to our working life, then it’s really about ensuring we get the most from what we do today, not always looking to what a strategy can deliver five years from now. I’m certainly not suggesting that strategizing and keeping an eye on the goals you wish to achieve and your plan for achieving these is a negative. But there is a tendency to lose sight of the importance of embracing what can be achieved now. The sum of the effort and wins on a daily or even hourly basis are ultimately what determine success. Equally, going back to my point about Christmas, it’s the positive interactions we have with friends and family throughout the year that make it special to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

So as we move closer to Christmas and we look forward to all the fun ahead during the holidays, my one piece of advice would be; don’t lose sight of the moment and make the best of the here and now. There’s always something we can achieve today.

7 Tips to get more out of your sleep?

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 26/10/2016
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I was awake last week at 3am and found it impossible to get back to sleep so I decided to read – The Gloss Magazine, Octobers 2016 edition, article - Huffington’s Latest Post.

Arianna Huffington the co-founder of The Huffington Post is now launching a new website Thrive Global. This website focuses on helping companies and employees improve their overall wellbeing. How this came about was when Arrianna collapsed from exhaustion nine years ago and realised that burning the candle at both ends is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

Huffington explains how she had to prioritise - “Running both companies would have involved working around the clock, which would be a betrayal of the very principles of Thrive. To truly thrive means knowing when the time has come to close one chapter and start the next; for me that time has arrived.”

To add to Huffington’s achievements she has just published her fifteenth book, ‘The Sleep Revolution’ earlier this year. The pattern here is blatantly obvious and I think we should all take heed to the message.

We need to look after ourselves and to quote Huffington “In the same way we need to plug in our phones, we need to UNPLUG OURSELVES ...” Always being switched on and contactable is not allowing us to take time out. We need to disconnect in order to function as we require adequate sleep.

Before Huffington’s collapsed she did not have a bedtime routine and would be texting or emailing just before sleep which lead to poor quality of (much needed) sleep.

Here are a few of her tips for a great night’s sleep after a long day:

1. Light suppresses the production of melatonin, which signals us to sleep: blackout blinds are a good investment. “We should make our bedroom a calming, quiet, dark space.”

2. Keep blue light radiating devices, such as phones and tablets, out of the bedroom. “Think of blue light as an anti-sleeping drug or stimulant.”

3. Turn down the thermostat. “The ideal sleeping temperature is 60-66 degrees Fahrenheit.” (15-19°C to you and me)

4. Moderate daily exercise will help you SLEEP YOUR WAY TO THE TOP. As Huffington see’s it “Make it a habit. Try exercising 20 or 30 minutes five days a week.”

5. Eat right, sleep tight. That means avoiding large meals, spicy foods and caffeine before bed.

6. Avoid that nightcap. “Alcohol does indeed initially act as a sedative, but later in the night it is a sleep disrupter.”

7. Try meditating if you wake during the night. “I practice meditation. It takes the stress out of wakefulness.”

In summation sleep deprivation is the new smoking and to quote Huffington once more “When I changed the amount of hours of sleep in my life, everything became easier: meditation, exercise, health, relationships, clarity of mind. Everything changed.”

Pharma sector - a prescription for success

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 20/10/2016
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As a member of the audience at last Thursday’s Pharma Industry Awards in the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin, the sense of purpose, achievement, camaraderie and pride felt by those working in this sector in Ireland was palpable. The annual ceremony seeks to acknowledge and celebrate the most innovative individuals and companies who demonstrate excellence within the industry and the evening certainly endorsed the view that we are making fantastic strides on a worldwide stage in what is an extremely competitive environment.

Notable among the winners on the night was Barry O’Leary, former Chief Executive of the IDA, who was presented with his award for ‘Pharma Leader 2016’ by my colleague David Phelan, Practice Leader for Life Sciences at Accreate. Mr O’Leary received this accolade in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the growth of the pharma sector in Ireland whilst working with the IDA for over 3 decades. He was credited with changing the landscape and raising the value of Ireland’s inward investments over his 7 year tenure as CEO and being primarily responsible for the establishment of Ireland as the leading global location outside the US for biopharmaceuticals. Over the last 5 years there has been a €7-€8 billion investment in this area. In his acceptance speech, he brought us on a brief journey outlining the evolution of the pharma sector and the introduction of the Shared Services Centre model here. Dublin and Cork are now seen as SSC hubs, with large corporates employing thousands of staff who in turn are reinvesting millions of euro into our domestic economy.

From an executive search perspective, the pharma sector is an area in which many senior level leaders are keen to work as they admire the ethos and values associated with this industry and they want to ‘make a difference’. Altruistic and philanthrophic reasons aside, it’s also one in which highly skilled roles are on offer and lucrative salaries are paid to attract top talent across all functions including (among others) Finance, Tax, Quality, Manufacturing, Engineering, Supply Chain and R&D. This trend is set to continue well into 2017 and beyond; a new skills report has forecast that 8,400 new jobs will be created in the biopharmaceutical industry between now and 2020. That’s what I’d call a prescription for success…

International Executive Search - Bringing the best back home

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 14/10/2016
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In my work with Accreate over 90% of the search assignments I carry out for my clients involve an international element.

Our clients’ international requirements can be categorised into two basic categories:

1. The company needs a leadership skill set not available in the local market
2. The company needs to place a senior executive overseas

Both challenges bring with them their own set of considerations and it is my role to guide the client through these questions that generally don’t apply in a “local to local” appointment.

Let’s look at the first example. For illustrative purposes I am going to take the example of moving a senior executive from overseas to Ireland (although Accreate often also moves executives say from a leadership position in New York to one in London).

Increasingly, with high growth in certain industries, and more particularly in certain skills, there is an unbalance of supply and demand for limited resources within the Irish market. For example, Chief Digital Officers or CIOs of large scale, customer centric businesses can be difficult to source in Ireland.

With these kind of executive searches we follow our usual rigorous process of market mapping, candidate identification, assessment, and selection. In addition to identifying candidates with the required technical and business skills it is essential that, on behalf of our clients, we offset any potential “risks” by also looking at what is essential in the right candidates specifically in a career move involving an international relocation.

With our considerable experience in placing senior executives overseas we at Accreate know that the key candidate traits to look for in an executive that can excel internationally are:

1. Cultural adaptability: Does the candidate believe that all good things are generated from the country where they grew up? How does the candidate deal with stakeholders that may solve problems in a very different manner than they would?
2. Flexibility: Has this individual been open to transitional moves in their career? For example, are they someone from an accounting background in their early career that is now not the CFO but the COO or Chief Revenue Officer? Even if this career transition has not involved an international move it reflects the “broad mindedness” required to make their success more likely in an overseas environment
3. Curiosity: The executive who will succeed abroad is a naturally curious individual. Simply put:

Accreate asks: “So how do you feel about moving to Dublin?”

Candidate 1 answers: “Yes it should be great. They speak English there and I know I can get all the same foods in the supermarket as back home” = (alarm bells)

Candidate 2 answers: “I think it will be good. I have always wondered how those Gaelic football rules work / I’d love to try windsurfing on the Atlantic in Winter / Yes my husband plays the banjo, he’s all for the move / my wife did a yoga retreat in the Burren and loved it! = (strangely – this will probably work out well!)

Above all, the candidate’s personal support structure must remain intact. It is vital that we confirm from our very earliest interaction with candidates that their family / partners are on board for a move as well. Even when the candidate themselves are really keen on the new executive position, if their family is not on board we believe it would be a mistake to make the hire in this instance. Meeting personal needs and a secure support system are essential to the leader’s professional success. We would go so far as to recommend including the executive’s partner in discussions over dinner during the selection process to more thoroughly explore the broader implications of a relocation for the family unit.

In summary, adding an international move into the equation of on-boarding the best senior leadership to our client’s team is at once a challenge as well as an exciting dimension for both Accreate and the candidates with whom we engage.

Financial Fisticuffs

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 07/10/2016
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Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative Party conference last Sunday, the dividing lines over what Brexit will mean in practice have become much clearer. Britain is now most likely to leave the EU single market, customs union and jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – the so-called ‘hard Brexit’ option.

The UK leaving the single market will have a negative impact on most sectors of our economy, particularly exporters. The one sector where the gains may outweigh the losses is financial services. Hard Brexit creates two major headaches for the City of London – the loss of ‘passport’ rights that enable financial firms to operate across the EU from a UK base and the fact that there are likely to be significant restrictions on executives from EU countries coming to work in Britain.

In a report issued this week, consultants Oliver Wyman estimated that a hard Brexit could cost financial firms over €45 billion in lost revenue. More concerning for the City is the strong mood music from No.10 that they will get no special favours in Brexit negotiations. By contrast, Bloomberg reported that the government will refuse to prioritise the protection of the financial sector after the U.K. has left the European Union and has privately dismissed the City’s key demand for an interim deal with the EU to help ease the transition.

None of this has gone unnoticed in Europe’s other financial centres, which are busy making their pitch to London-based firms. Politico’s Morning Exchange reported that bankers have witnessed a flurry of “beauty parades” from the likes of Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, and Luxembourg, as it becomes clear that at least some operations will have to be exported to the EU after Brexit. And therein lies the rub for Ireland and Dublin in particular. Is our offering compelling enough to fend off competition from other long-established and ambitious competitors? You would have to conclude that to date the jury is still out on that question.

In our favour Minister of State for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy has been on the road promoting the IFS 2020 strategy, which seeks to increase financial services jobs by 30% within the next few years. Meanwhile Gerry Cross, Director of Policy & Risk at the Central Bank told a Deloitte Brexit briefing that there was potential for a material increase in financial firms moving to Dublin from London once the UK leaves the EU, but they would have to establish a “substantive presence” here in order to retain their passport rights. The clear message was that there is no official appetite for ‘brass plate’ operations establishing here post-Brexit. Cross was very explicit in spelling this out, stating that the Central Bank will want to see that the board and the management are located here, that the business is run from here, that the decision-making happens here and that this flows through to the level of staffing the Bank expects. Overall you could say Ireland’s competitive strategy is cautious and purposeful.

Contrast this with Frankfurt and Paris, both of which appear to be applying a little more flair to their efforts to attract financial firms. Frankfurt’s pitch is that it will offer firms the opportunity to run operations that have to be based in the EU from Frankfurt and those that don’t from London under the same regulatory and financial umbrella. Politico described Frankfurt’s offer as “innovative and daring” by allowing a more seamless link between firms’ London-based operations and their EU outposts.
Meanwhile the French regulator has made it easier for UK firms to apply for a French licence. Under their two-week process, institutions currently regulated in London can get a fast-track “pre-authorisation” to open for business in Paris. The BBC reported that the responsiveness of the French regulator is one of the changes - Paris advocates say - which will surprise newcomers.

Given this country’s recent troubles caused by lax regulation of banks – including in the IFSC – you can understand why the underlying approach of the Government and the Central Bank towards attracting financial firms here following Brexit is perhaps more cautious than our competitors. And it is of course critical that we get real operations and the jobs that go with them here – not just brass plates. That said, given the intensity of the competition and the strengths of our competitors, you would have to conclude that we need to up our game and become a bit more innovative and daring too if we want to turn Brexit into a real opportunity to build a European powerhouse in financial services.

Punching a Class Above

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 29/09/2016
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Ireland is a country that has made a big impact on the world for such a small island with a mere five million people. We have always been known for our Hollywood stars like Maureen O’Hara in the 1940’s up to Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Jamie Dornan in modern day. We have made an impact on music too, with U2, Thin Lizzy and The Cranberries. But in recent times, perhaps we’ve made the most impact and headlines in the commercial world. And yes, we have a competitive tax rate, and yes we speak English, and yes we’re located close to the US, but having spoken to and asked the question of “why Ireland?” to so many of these multinationals who have chosen Ireland as a significant base for their operations, none of those are the reasons for being based here.

It’s the people. It’s such a cliché and somewhat arrogant point of view but it’s true. We have always excelled beyond our supposed limitations and this is a characteristic that is recognised by the top multinationals who have invested in our humble nation. We get things done rather than talk about it, we excel rather than aspire and probably more than anything, we’re fighters. A never say die attitude is massively valuable in modern day corporate life.

We have seen first-hand how multinationals have now taken to promoting their Irish employees to senior leadership positions that were previously well out of reach for us lowly Irish. Now in the upper echelons of large multinationals such as Apple, Google, Intel, Pfizer, Alexion and more, we are seeing high achieving Irish striving to make an impact on the world. It truly is that grandiose mentality of wanting to leave a legacy, make a difference and go beyond expectations that has driven us to consistently over-achieve. I can’t see this stopping any time soon. Over half of Irish go onto third level (51.1%) which is the highest in the EU, a full 15.3% higher than the EU average; the talent pool is being stretched to its limits in order to sustain the level of foreign direct investment; and the appetite for Ireland has only grown since Brexit. We’re now in a golden age for senior executives in the finance, technology, food and pharmaceutical industries where the possibilities are limitless and the thirst for our talent is stronger than ever before.

Emotional Intelligence - an underrated skill?

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 21/09/2016
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Having recently attended a discussion on Emotional Intelligence (‘EI’) hosted by Shannon Chamber, I was reminded of the fundamental importance of this (sometimes underrated) skill, which permeates all aspects of our personal and working lives. EI is now a significant consideration in terms of candidate assessment and selection, training and career advancement. There is a demonstrable favourable impact when emotionally intelligent employees come together to create a positive working environment.

The theory of EI was initially developed by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer. Dr. Daniel Goleman subsequently identified the 5 components of EI as:
1. Self awareness
2. Self regulation
3. Internal motivation
4. Empathy
5. Social skills.

In my role as an Executive Search Practice Leader, I am tasked with sourcing key business leaders, predominantly in the Finance and Tax space, for a plethora of organisations ranging from SMEs to multinationals. On a typical day I might speak to Finance Directors/Heads of Finance, CFOs, CEOs and Tax Directors. A common thread linking all of these individuals is their finance/accounting backgrounds, an area sometimes perceived to be one where people are conservative, studious, not overly dynamic or engaging interpersonally (as an Accountant myself, I would hope that this is not the case!). Nowadays however, this attitude is gradually changing, perhaps as a result of investment in training and a greater appreciation of the need to be an ‘all-rounder’ rather than ‘one dimensional’ to succeed. Technical abilities aside, my view is that these individuals would simply not be able to scale the top of their respective career ladders without a healthy dose of emotional intelligence - in other words, the ability to deal with personal emotions as well as influencing, persuading, negotiating and motivating others on their teams. Employers seeking effective leaders will intuitively focus on ensuring that someone’s ability to communicate, understand, interact and empathise with their colleagues is as pronounced as their ability to assume responsibility for overseeing monthly close, statutory accounts, Tax returns or whatever else their official job description entails.

During our executive search screening process, we delve under the surface to ascertain how candidates approach team management, their capacity to build strong relationships, how they relate to their peers, how they manage conflict in the workplace and how they respond to differing group dynamics. In a nutshell, how they interact with people. If an individual is then invited to a formal client interview, their abilities in this area will be explored in even more detail. HR/Talent Acquisition personnel may probe further utilising competency/scenario based interviewing, where examples of past performance are viewed as the most accurate barometer of a person’s likely future performance. Their findings in this regard may then be assessed/corroborated by psychometric testing (more often than not used by corporates for senior level hires) which, in many cases, has a separate section specifically dedicated to EI. Then, even if successful, standard job offers come with the caveat that they are ‘subject to satisfactory references’; naturally, the latter affords prospective employers yet another opportunity to hear directly from a previous manager/former colleague how highly the individual in question rates in this area.

In his LinkedIn article ‘5 Ways to Develop Emotionally Intelligent Behaviors’ (Dec 6, 2015) Daniel Goleman wrote that ‘An emotionally intelligent leader can monitor his or her moods through self-awareness, change them for the better through self-management, understand their impact through empathy, and act in ways that boost others’ moods through relationship management’. He outlines the following ‘five-part process which is designed to rewire the brain toward more emotionally intelligent behaviors’. The process includes:
• Imagining your ideal self
• Coming to terms with your real self (as others experience you)
• Creating a tactical plan to bridge the gap between ideal and real
• Practicing those activities
• Creating a community of colleagues, friends and family - call them change enforcers - to keep the process alive.

Therefore, despite the sceptics, it seems fair to say that EI is critical to both our personal and professional success. It is a skill that we continue to learn throughout our lives so it’s never too late to embrace it!

Hire, Reward, and Tolerate Only Fully Formed Adults

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 14/09/2016
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Last week on LinkedIn I shared a blog by Kevin Kruse entitled ‘Netflix Has No Rules Because They Hire Great People’. His article resonated with me and had me thinking about how sometimes ‘simple makes sense’.

Whether you are a Chief Executive Officer hiring new personnel or you are searching for an appropriate Executive Search firm to help you with the task, heeding Mr. Kruse’s advice is I believe sound practice.

In his blog Kevin explores what we can learn from Netflix’s approach to business culture and rules.

In a nutshell there are two things that companies should concentrate on:

1. Investing in hiring high-performance employees

2. Building and maintaining a culture that rewards high-performers, and weeds out continuous, unimproved low performers.

The blog explains the long term benefits of first searching for and then hiring responsible people. Furthermore it cites the need for employers to ‘allow’ their chosen employees to become better versions of themselves without having to comply with pointless rules and regulations.

Following the above dictates, and the result is clear, employers end up with employees that thrive and as a result company productivity increases.

In the January 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review Patty McCord, then Chief Talent Officer with Netflix Inc. set out her stall with the following words of wisdom

“If you’re careful to hire people who will put the company’s interests first, who understand and support the desire for a high-performance workplace, 97% of your employees will do the right thing. Most companies spend endless time and money writing and enforcing HR policies to deal with problems the other 3% might cause. Instead, we tried really hard to not hire those people, and we let them go if it turned out we’d made a hiring mistake.”

Examining Netflix’s approach more thoroughly shows us that they have two key principles that underscore their workforce model. They believe in ‘Freedom and responsibility’ for the employees and in ‘Crafting a Culture of Excellence’ within their business.

With these two overarching principles in mind, Netflix further shaped their approach to talent using the five tenets below.

1. Hire, Reward, and Tolerate Only Fully Formed Adults
2. Tell the Truth About Performance
3. Managers Own the Job of Creating Great Teams
4. Leaders Own the Job of Creating the Company Culture
5. Good Talent Managers Think Like Business people and Innovators First, and Like HR People Last

With all of the above in mind I now suppose the question is, how can you effectively apply such important principles and relevant advice to your working environment?

I believe you must ask yourself the following questions truthfully. Then more importantly answer them truthfully too:

1. How much more can you invest into the hiring process?

2. If you’ll be spending less on enforcement, can you raise the compensation you offer (resulting in higher quality candidates)?

3. What type of culture are you producing? Is it designed so high performers will thrive, or does it protect against low performers?

4. Are managers reluctant to let go low performers? If so Why?

In essence the higher the quality of your workforce the less likely it is that you’ll need rules.

As McCord sees it, you should “hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults.”

With Autumn comes opportunity

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 09/09/2016
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Autumn is my favourite season. You cannot beat a walk in the multi-coloured landscape and the crisp sound of leaves underfoot. We often think of Spring as the season to herald new beginnings. However, from a business perspective, Autumn can bring with it a wealth of opportunity.

Take for example the American entrepreneur’s business “Ship Foliage”, which launched last year. It delivers preserved leaves right to customer’s doors. Customers pay $29.99 for five leaves collected from somewhere in Massachusetts, Vermont or New Hampshire!! No – this is not a joke.

More seriously, there are a number of reasons why, generally, Autumn is a good time to hire into your senior executive team.

Firstly, the candidate pool is more approachable. After having had time to reflect over Summer breaks, executives who are in “consideration mode” in terms of a career change can be more open to conversations about new opportunities.

Secondly, organisations are generally in business planning mode for 2017. The right hiring process now will deliver a new member to the executive team in time for kick-off 2017. Any significant hires for 2017 will need to be included in the budgeting process now.

Finally, as part of the business planning process, Executives are also at this time of year more likely to be made aware of changes within their own organisations for 2017 which may impact their decision to seek opportunities outside of their current positions.

All in all, the falling leaf can signal a trigger for change at the top level in organisations and represents a great opportunity for both companies and senior executives to forge new beginnings.

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” ― Jim Bishop

Apple and Ireland – Time to Think Different

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 01/09/2016
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As Steve Jobs himself would have said, it’s time to think different. Most of the tidal wave of opinion since the European Commission’s decision on Apple landed is wrong. The Commission’s decision looks back to the past, to a world that is gone. What the commentators have missed is that Ireland has long seen the writing on the wall and has already put in place a new economic strategy for this new world that looks more to Boston than to Brussels or Berlin.

Tax schemes like the notorious Double Irish that did us such reputational damage in the past were decisively shut down by the last Government, and Ireland is strongly committed to clamping down on aggressive tax avoidance strategies that artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations through the OECD’s so-called BEPS process. In place of using tax as our USP for attracting inward investment, the last Government and the current one fundamentally changed Ireland’s offering to one that emphasises our highly skilled labour force, excellent quality of life, ease of doing business and location – post-Brexit – as the only English-speaking gateway to the largest market in the world. Of course tax is still part of the mix, but it is now one of many factors. And Boston is buying it – as evidenced by the ever-increasing levels of foreign-direct investment into Ireland by US companies.

However the unprecedented attack on our reputation and sovereignty by the Commission has done plenty of damage and it is critical that the Government pushes back more strongly than it has done to date. The Government’s fightback should be three-pronged: first it needs to highlight to the public and investors that the economic strategy the Commission’s decision implicates has long ago been consigned to the dustbin of history; second it needs to draw a line under this by reassuring the public that our corporate tax rate of 12.5% means just that – no more, but equally no less. Finally, it needs to build alliances with other nations and stakeholders that take issue with the Commission’s overreach into matters that are properly the domain of national governments – both by appealing the decision and questioning the very assumptions that underpin it.

The Commission has a long history of using EU law to extend its writ far beyond what was originally intended by member states. Undoubtedly the Apple case is the thin end of the wedge. However post-Brexit, there is no support among European citizens or their governments for what advocates of greater integration like to call ‘More Europe’. What they would like to see instead is a ‘Better Europe’ that improved the living standards of its citizens, equipped them with the skills needed for the 21st century economy and didn’t stand in the way of investing in badly-needed infrastructure. Think of it as a kind of ‘Boston with Benefits’. As the EU member state that most closely reflects this vision, Ireland is best-placed to use the Apple decision as a platform to make the case for it at EU level. Time to think different.

Big Pharma Targets Rare Diseases

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 26/08/2016
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After a relatively quiet summer, talks of anticipated acquisitions are here again. Unsurprisingly, given the number of pharma and biotech operations in Ireland, another company here has been implicated. Whilst it may not be the mega-merger which collapsed between Pfizer and Allergan, it’s relatively significant nonetheless. Biomarin, the Californian rare disease biotech with a market cap of circa $15bn has a significant manufacturing operation in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork. Although Biomarin have typically been the instigators of acquisitions themselves over the last few years with the purchases of Zacharon and Prosensa respectively, for some time it has been rumoured that they themselves might be an acquisition target.

In recent weeks it has been announced that Pfizer look to be the fortunate winners of a bidding war for Medivation, a San Franciscan rare disease biotech valued at around $14bn. If that is the case, then unlucky runners up, Sanofi, who previously acquired Genzyme, may now look to Biomarin as an alternative. Biomarin represents a similar opportunity to that of Medivation, with a focus on unmet medical needs and what looks to be a very promising pipeline of products which have already been granted orphan drug status by the FDA. It will be interesting to see if Sanofi will look at this option and even more interesting to see what, if any impact this will have on Biomarin in Cork.

With talks of Brexit and unrest in the EU, the US driven Pharmaceutical industry drives forward with the thirst for pipeline development and high margin drugs. This may, on the face of it, look like a big corporate game but in reality, its fantastic news for those who suffer from rare diseases for which there are limited treatment options. More appetite for these high value products may drive up the cost of healthcare but can you place a value on the investments that big pharma is now willing to take into ensuring those unfortunate enough to have a rare disease now have hope? I think big pharma is betting you can’t.

Good, better, personal best?

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 16/08/2016
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The anticipation of potential gold medals for team Ireland in the run up to Rio has, like the olympic swimming pool, taken on a whole new complexion over the last week. The initial controversy surrounding the withdrawal of a number of our golfers amid zika fears has been replaced with unexpected drugs and ticket scandals, not to mention the earlier than anticipated exit of our main medal hope, Katie Taylor. Yet these events should not overshadow the other fine performances by the likes of the O’Donovan brothers, Michael Conlan and many other Irish sports men and women who have represented our country in recent days. It begs the question whether competing is really all about winning or whether it’s enough to have taken part to the best of your ability? This conundrum transcends all aspects of life and can relate to success in sport or indeed in the world of work.

Companies, like sporting authorities, are now more discerning than ever when it comes to ensuring that ‘the best’ talent excels and, given the cost of making an incorrect decision at a senior level, appropriate checks are carried out along the way. Employers expend significant time and resources in ensuring that those who climb to the top of the proverbial career ladder actually merit being there, on the basis of their abilities. Progression to a key leadership position for a long-serving employee within the same organisation is relatively straightforward, as the individual in question will already have a track record there. However, matters become more complex when making the transition from one company to another; in the latter case, it is imperative that proper research, interviewing and screening occurs to ensure the most appropriate candidate is chosen. Employers should not ‘oversell’ the role and, likewise, potential employees should not ‘oversell’ themselves or embellish their résumés/their experience; honesty and transparency are required on both sides to ensure the optimum result - otherwise there will be no winners.

At 31 years of age, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals, 23 of them gold. Usain Bolt is another phenomenon, running the 100m this week in 9.81 seconds. Yet, by virtue of what they have achieved, they are very much the exception rather than the rule. The reality is that, despite their efforts, gruelling training sessions, adhering to strict diets and in many ways putting their lives on hold for the last 4 years, most competitors will not win and will return to their respective countries empty handed - yet they will take immense pride in the fact that they participated to the best of their respective abilities. This is also true in some cases for job applicants who have prepared intensely for an interview process, gone through several rounds of meetings, completed psychometric tests and yet still did not manage to secure their dream job as someone else was ultimately chosen. My advice to those who have found themselves in the ‘runner up’ position (possibly on more than one occasion) would be to take the positives from the process, learn from the experience and use it to perform even better next time. The position they did not manage to secure was evidently not the ideal fit for them, but another more suitable opportunity will present itself.

While we can’t all be gold medal winners, there is merit in setting some achievable goals to keep us motivated as we approach Q4 of 2016 - perhaps a good place to start is with the motto: Good, better, best - never let them rest, until the good is better and the better (a personal) best!

Why Integrity = Excellence

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 11/08/2016
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At a team meeting recently we listened to some positive client feedback and the words that resonated time and again, were ‘integrity’ and ‘good customer service’, which was of course music to my ears as I believe they go hand in hand.

Firstly let’s define integrity as – ‘Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do’.

Sometimes in business there is that ill conceived notion that you have to play hard-ball and be perceived in a certain way in order to succeed. However simple honest truths are really what most people look for in companies that they wish to do business with now and in the future.
If you are assured of the integrity of a company you can then be pretty much assured of that same company possessing a multitude of other quality traits that good businesses incorporate in their ethos.

Great Leaders Never Compromise Their Honesty and Integrity by Cheating

This filters down through the organisation of a company allowing all employees to perform well and provide excellent customer service.
However, it can only be achieved if staff are given proper support and trained well by their management team, who need to exemplify that integrity in the first place.

Importance of Integrity in Giving and Keeping Promises

We all work within timelines and schedules. If you promise to deliver to a client within a certain time-frame you have to stick to this, it’s that simple. This is why you must have realistic timeframes that you and your team have agreed on so you can deliver quality work on time again and again.

Leaders with Integrity Aren’t Afraid Of the Truth

“Seeing the world as it really is, not as you wish it to be.” – is probably the most important principle of leadership.
A good example of not following this principle would be Enron, the American energy, commodities, and Services Company based in Houston, Texas. It was revealed that it’s reported financial condition was sustained by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud, known forever more as the Enron scandal.

Previously, Enron was cited as one of America’s most innovative and daring companies with a well-connected CEO who had contact to some of the most important and influential people in the US including the then President.
The only problem was Enron’s success was built on a lie. Which unfortunately sounds all too familiar to anyone who has lived in Ireland over the last decade and witnessed at first hand the disastrous affects businesses and institutions without integrity have on the lives and welfare of millions.

Customer Service

As for good customer service, well for me it is as simple as this - treat customers, as you would like to be treated. A happy customer will always return for more so it is vital to keep them happy, by building a good relationship with you clients and customers.

As Theodore Roosevelt saw it “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

To conclude, when I hear back from clients who cite our integrity and customer service as second to none, it makes me feel proud of my work, of my team and the company that I work for.

Remember “There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.” - Jon Huntsman, Sr.

No break for the boss? 7 tips for senior executives to take a successful holiday

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 04/08/2016
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Apart from statutory obligation, companies offer paid holidays for a reason - and that includes the boss!

Evidence clearly indicates that without proper breaks from the workplace we become less productive. Even if people work longer hours, as concentration levels fall, we become less creative and our level of intensity and pace drops off. This is doubly the case for senior executives managing large teams who carry a great responsibility for the success of the organisation.
While you might think your dedication to work will impress the organisation, in the long run a potential slow down in your work rate and quality of output will be more likely to garner attention. In addition – if you don’t lead by example, your senior management team will feel less comfortable or even avoid taking their own breaks, leading to fatigue and burnout at the top table.

A successful break for a Chief or Senior executive should deliver:

  • A seamless continuation of work on current priorities, challenges and projects in your absence

  • An opportunity to relax with family and friends

  • A return to work with a happier family, renewed energy, vigour and fresh ideas

Let’s face it, as a Chief Executive or senior management team member, it is often unlikely that you can switch off entirely. While always mindful of your organisation, be also aware and sensitive to the needs of your holiday group or family – this is their break too and their opportunity to spend quality time with you. Appearing to be always online or on the phone to the office is a definite recipe for domestic strife at this time of year.

So, let’s look at some ways of maximising the best outcome from you holiday – for yourself, your career and your family.

  1. Plan well ahead and communicate your holiday plans to your team

  2. Extract yourself where possible from more hands on projects for the period

  3. Ensure key members of your team have not double booked leave

  4. Have your “deputy” or “deputies” lined up to take up the reigns in your absence

  5. Minimise online availability – where possible advise “I’ll be online between 0900 and 1100” or, I’ll check into voicemail at certain times in the day

  6. Where your holiday coincides with unavoidable “critical” projects why not think about the following: Communicate to your group / family that there is a particularly urgent issue at work which will mean you will have to stay in contact, but that you will try to minimise this contact. Or you could schedule a “check in” call with the office to coincide with your family’s plans. For example, get up 30 minutes before the group and make the call then. This gives you the headspace to focus and minimises their irritation with “Mum” or “Dad” is working again!.

  7. DO think about work…… ok so now I’m contradicting myself?
    Not really. When you step away from the daily grind of people, issues and deadlines you can free up space in your mind for issues that normally get no time for thought. This will happen automatically. For example; you have an issue with a senior team member’s performance that you haven’t had time to crack. Your mind will naturally seek out the solution when you’re in relaxed mode away from the office.

“As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.” John Battelle, Entrepreneur

With Great Talent Comes Great Opportunity

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 20/07/2016
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No one wants another Brexit article, so all I’ll say is that now “Ireland Inc.” has a great opportunity to get the word out to global companies, particularly in the US that there is still an English speaking, EU committed location which is perfectly placed for them to do business. It’s not simply a case of sitting back and waiting for the business to come in. Now, more than ever, is the time to be proactive in driving foreign direct investment.

The pharmaceutical industry being my area of expertise and Ireland being a key location for both big and small pharma, Accreate Executive Search will be travelling to Boston next week to whet the appetite of Life Science companies looking for a European home. Over two days, HR leaders in small and big pharma will be convening at LEAP HR Boston to discuss people strategies, the changes affecting the industry and how they will equip their businesses in order to find the best talent in the best locations.

The IDA has done a fantastic job in attracting investment from top Pharma and IT companies. Simply having such a concentration of these businesses has naturally resulted in the development and attraction of top talent. In fact, the war for this talent has never been stronger. Whilst rapidly growing pharma companies are having to scrap for the best people, this has had the effect of raising everyone’s game. Opportunities for progression are rife and there is very little stagnancy. So much like in growth centres like San Francisco and Boston, employees are gaining experience in more senior roles at a much earlier stage in their career.

Yes, this war for talent comes at a price. The days of employees being loyal to one or two businesses for their entire career are fizzling out and the cost of these employees is rising as more movement means higher salaries. However, the value-add has increased far beyond this. Rather than business units having a national or regional remit, we now see significant globally focused units based in Ireland. Even with the concentration we have now, there is always room for more.

Accreate can’t help a company win the war for talent but we can help win some of the important battles along the way.

5 Steps for great Ideas

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 14/07/2016
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On a recent visit to the Facebook EMEA HQ office in Dublin it was difficult not to walk away with a feeling of amazement at the vastness of the space & level of incentives that they provide for their employees.

From the variety at the food counters to the snack pods on each floor, each lavatory provides portable toothbrushes, mouth wash, hand cream and so on. Then my favourite: the ice cream parlour while overlooking a game of pool before stepping outside to the roof garden to finish off my cup of jelly beans that I had just acquired from the candy stand.

It got me thinking about the reason why an employer would set up their working environment in this way. Then I remembered a talk I listened to with Steven Johnson, (writer – Emergence, Everything bad is good for you). He enquired: Where do good ideas come from, you know the Flash, Light Bulb or Eureka moment when the great ideas hits us. Where do these great ideas come from? Perhaps not where you think!

We all need great ideas; ideas for tasks, product names, business development, and blogs and so the list continues but how do we capture them? In the past the perception was that best ideas came from sitting down with a pad of paper and trying to come up with them.

After doing a little research I learned that the most common responses to the question: Where do your best ideas come from resulted with the following:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Traveling (airplanes, airports, trains, buses)
  • Falling asleep or waking up
  • In conversation with friends
  • Listening to audiobooks or podcasts
  • Showering

Very few of these are sitting down and it turns out that great ideas come mostly when you aren’t trying to think of them. I can see the huge benefits there are to having space in offices to encourage staff to move away from their desks and have a game of pool and mix with people from different departments, teams, sectors and have a more relaxed environment in order to relax the brain and get it thinking in a different direction.

Most ideas have a long incubation period as an idea is a new network of neurons coming together to form in sync with each other inside your brain. It’s a new configuration that has never formed before. We need to create an environment where these new networks are going to be more likely to form. This is where you’re working environment is so important. Whenever you feel stuck and can’t think of great ideas, change your environment.

Once you form these great ideas you have to cultivate them and develop great ideas through five simple steps:

  1. Generate
  2. Document
  3. Organize
  4. Cull
  5. Execute

If you fail to take an idea through all of these steps your idea may be worthless because it will never see the light of day. You’ll never end up “finishing” the idea until delivering the final product.

Take your best ideas and execute them. That is where success comes from.

I will leave you with this simple quote:

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

Brexit - Ireland’s opportunity?

Ed Brophy
Written by
Ed Brophy
Date Published: 06/07/2016
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“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Once the initial shock of Britain’s vote on June 23 to leave the EU had passed, much of the media coverage last week in Ireland focused on the downside risks for our economy. Naturally any uncertainty about the political and economic status of our largest trading partner and closest ally is a cause for concern. And a number of sectors, in particular farming and food, are particularly exposed to a change in our trading relationship with the UK.

However we are going to have to get used to living with uncertainty - notwithstanding what some of the candidates for Tory party leadership might say, it is possible that the UK may not identify its preferred Brexit option or trigger exit negotiations with the EU for up to 12 months. Why such a long delay? Because any concessions to the British during exit negotiations would play very badly within France and Germany who both face elections in 2017 and significant calls for similar referendums in their own countries. In fact within France there is likely to be a strong desire to play hardball with the UK in the short term in order to highlight the risks of Brexit to its own anti-EU factions.

In any event, once the dust has settled there are two realistic paths for the UK outside of the EU. First there is the so-called ‘Norway’ option. This amounts to membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), which entails full access to the single market in return for a significant contribution to the EU budget and continued freedom of EU citizens to live and work in the UK, but with no role in influencing the rulebook for the single market. However it is highly unlikely that this option will pass muster politically given that the Brexit campaign was all about restricting free movement of workers.

Given the political straitjacket that any new Prime Minister will find themselves in, it is more likely that they will pursue the ‘Canada’ option - in other words a free trade agreement with the EU without full single market access and free movement of workers.

Which of these two options is better for Ireland? Much depends on the detail of what emerges but the reality is that at an overall economy level whatever Brexit option is pursued will be at best neutral for us. However certain sectors are likely to do better than others depending on what option is pursued. The EEA approach would be best for our food and agriculture sector as it would effectively preserve the current level of access exporters enjoy to the UK market. While a Canadian-type free trade deal would not be disastrous for Irish exporters, it would almost certainly entail a lesser level of access to the UK market than currently exists.

The sector most likely to gain in a Canada scenario would be financial services. This is because financial institutions that currently use London as a base for access to the entire EU market would then lose their right to offer services throughout the EU while being registered in one country - the so-called ‘passporting’ rights. They would inevitably look to other EU locations for passporting purposes and despite strong competition from Paris and Frankfurt, Dublin in particular has a number of very compelling advantages in attracting and retaining financial institutions looking to relocate. This may ultimately lead to a significant jobs boost for our capital city - the flipside of which is increased demand for housing and better public transport.

Finally, under the most bullish scenario there may also be a significant FDI boost to Ireland as some of the €35b inward investment into the UK last year peels away and arrives instead on our shores as the only English-speaking nation in the biggest market in the world. An FDI boost of this magnitude would clearly have profoundly positive impacts on our economy, society and culture, but it is far too early to call this one.

Overall there is very little Ireland will be able to do to directly influence the shape of the final deal that emerges. However what we certainly can do is to mitigate the risks from Brexit for our economy by maximising the opportunities it presents. John F Kennedy was fond of pointing out that the Chinese word for crisis was an amalgam of two characters, “danger” and “opportunity”. To put ourselves in pole position for any Brexit opportunity, we need to find a way to bring forward capital spending to tackle key deficits in housing and public transport, make a strong case for our key strategic sectors like food, agriculture and financial services and ensure that the impact on Ireland both the Republic and the North is factored into the final Brexit deal.

Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney believes (Brexit) campaign will succeed.

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 15/06/2016
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Speaking this morning at a Dublin Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast, guest speaker Patrick Coveney said “My personal judgement is that they (Britain) will” vote to exit the EU.

This morning’s headlines tell us that Britain’s “Leave” campaign has now opened up a 7-point lead over “Remain”. Recent polls are suggesting that momentum has swung towards the “Leave” camp, or a so called Brexit, unsettling investors. “Leave” in recent days has focused its campaign on the issue of immigration. According to the YouGov poll for The Times, “Leave” held 46% support compared with 39% support for “Remain.” Undecided voters were 11%, while 4% won’t vote.

This morning’s event was opened by the host company’s Managing Partner, Matheson’s Michael Jackson who clarified some interesting points on the legal implications of the referendum before Mr Coveney took the podium to speak, highlighting his view from a Greencore perspective.

Greencore, which reported a turnover of £1.34 billion for financial year 2015, has a massive interest in terms of its own operation in the UK. When measured by employees, Greencore is the largest Irish company in the UK. They feed a jaw dropping 50% of the UK population every week and 75% every month - 1 in 2 of all UK sandwiches are Greencore produced. At peak, they employ 15,000 people in the UK and everything they sell in the UK is made in the UK (although much of their ingredients supply is Irish).

For Greencore, the biggest impact of Mr Coveney’s expected “Brexit” is one of cost. He also anticipates that revenues will sink marginally in line with depressed demand as the average Briton’s income will fall. Another potential consideration is that 35% of their employees in Britain come from EU member states but are non UK nationals. From an Irish perspective Mr Coveney went on to comment that notions that FDI investment destined for Britain will be steered towards these shores are not founded in any real evidence.

What came across however most strongly, both from Mr Jackson and Mr Coveney was the level of uncertainty that the referendum brings with it. Not only is there the current speculation about the referendum result, there follows a whole wealth of critical decision points, whose outcome cannot be anticipated.

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provides that any Member State may decide to withdraw from the EU in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. What is known is that exercising Article 50 is an unknown path, never before ventured.

What we are seeing this week in terms of the slide in the value of Sterling signals what we know to be true. Uncertainty around political stability for an economy is negative.

Both the Dublin Chamber’s CEO and Mr Coveney encouraged us to get connected to our friends and family in the UK and strongly urge them to vote first and foremost (a higher turnout is anticipated to favour a “remain” outcome). I certainly intend to.

The very best version of you

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 02/06/2016
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“It is the hard days - the times that challenge you to your very core - that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”

This is a quotation from a recent commencement address given by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of ‘Lean In’, at the graduation ceremony for the 2016 class of the University of Berkeley, California. Having listened to this powerful speech, a number of key elements resonated with me and I thought they were worth sharing.

As a woman in business, it struck me that Sandberg’s delivery was in parts emotional. Traditionally, business leaders are expected to be stoic, slick and not emotional, displaying no signs of weakness or cracks in their armour. It is just business after all. That’s not to say that Sandberg’s speech was not well delivered, she is one of the best speakers I have heard. However, what I found refreshing was that she was able to bring emotion to the table and still maintain her credibility as a world class business leader. The idea that being yourself and having feelings is normal, emotion is actually allowed and we should as a business community embrace people being their real genuine selves (because that is why they were hired in the first place!).

Sheryl articulated her feelings very well towards the end of her keynote speech by saying that she hoped the graduates listening to her could learn from some of the experiences she shared with them, so that in future, each of them could be ‘the very best versions of you’. What a great goal for us all, and wouldn’t it be amazing if employers wanted that for all their employees?

The stand out message from Sheryl’s speech for me was an actual mechanism she employs to deal with difficult situations - a set of mind muscles she can flex when faced with adversity. This tool was shared with her by a psychologist friend during the most trying time in her life, when her husband died suddenly last year. When you read into the methodology you can see why it is so effective. Here it is in a nutshell:

Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania (who is widely considered the founding father of the positive psychology movement) proposes that our ability to deal with setbacks is largely determined by three Ps: personalization, pervasiveness and permanence.

  • Personalization: This refers to whether you attribute a negative event to internal or external factors - in other words, whether it’s your fault. Sandberg explained personalization: “This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.” At first Sheryl blamed herself for her husband’s death - what did she miss?, what could she have done to prevent this?, but once she learned about personalization, she realised she was not responsible.
  • Pervasiveness: This refers to whether you see negative experiences as global or specific, or as Sheryl says, whether “an event will affect all areas of your life”. 10 days after her husband’s death, Sheryl returned to work and her children returned to school. She described sitting in a Facebook meeting wondering ‘what is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?’ and then for one brief moment she got drawn into the conversation and for that brief moment of distraction forgot about death. She realised there were other things in her life that were worth living for, her family and friends. It took suffering great loss to fully appreciate that. In her words, “I learned that in the face of the void or in the face of any challenge - you can choose joy and meaning.”
  • Permanence: This is whether you see an event as stable or unstable, or how long you think the negative feelings will last. Sandberg said “no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there”; slowly Sandberg learned that you do not have to deny those feelings but take solace in the fact that, with time, you will feel a little less sad. This feeling will not last forever.

By using the 3 Ps, Sheryl has realised that finding gratitude and appreciation is the key to resilience.

Whatever way you process events that happen in your work and personal life, Sheryl’s overarching message should be a constant. Being successful is easy. Coping with adversity and learning from mistakes while staying confident and holding on to your self-belief is hard - it takes work and resilience but is ultimately the most rewarding thing you can do.

Link to Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address at the graduation ceremony for the 2016 class of the University of Berkeley, California.

Smart Words

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 27/05/2016
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I recently got to thinking about words and it occurred to me that the most simple words can often be the most powerful. Small words used in error can cause difficulties, used correctly can be incredibly empowering.

The Oxford English dictionary describes the word “and” as “a conjunction used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly”.

As an introduction to his book “The Power of And versus the Tyranny of Or”, David Howitt quoted Einstein as follows:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Albert Einstein

In his work, the author explores the theory that, from a very early age our thinking is created to accept limits. We can be told that we are “good at languages” in school which often excludes an ability to excel at sciences, for example. So what if we replace the “or” with “and”, remove the limits of our received thinking - what possibilities would present themselves?

On a more practical level, picture a boardroom conversation that is going in circles and a particular issue or agenda is coming up against constant resistance. Why not consider adopting the simple three letters “AND”. This could open a whole new direction for the conversation and cut out unnecessary conflict.

For example compare the following two sentences:

1. “I concur with what you are saying BUT I wonder if we could examine this particular point”

2. “I concur with what you are saying AND I wonder if we could examine this particular point”

The first conveys a negative opinion of the other person’s standpoint and limits avenues for progress.
The second “And” approach opens an avenue for feedback and clarification, while making the person you’re speaking to feel that their contribution is valued and that they are listened to.

In Executive Search our clients trust us to assess potential candidates for their senior roles. A large part of this is, as far as possible, to assess not just the “rational” but also the “intuitive” mind that Einstein refers to. The competencies hidden in the “intuitive” mind include the ability of senior executives to read a room and to tailor their communication to get the best outcome. Our team of executive search consultants have learned over time to assess and benchmark these abilities in order to deliver the best selection of candidates to fit our clients’ requirements.

Brexit wouldn’t be all bad!

Date Published: 19/05/2016
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The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland hosts its Annual Dinner this Friday. Such an event is quite significant in the light of the possibility of a Brexit. The most recent data we have, published last month showed that in 2014 FDI from the US into the EU totalled €1.81 trillion. The UK receives 28% of this figure with Ireland punching well above its weight in receiving 5%. So is Brexit such a bad thing for Irish trade, and particularly our relationship with the US?

Short term, I can’t see how Brexit would be good for our economy. By a massive margin they are our biggest trade partner. There are many other potential factors to consider such as the free movement of people and our interaction, both economic and otherwise with Northern Ireland.

Long term, this could open a lot of opportunities for Ireland. In working with US companies on a daily basis, I hear first-hand why they have set-up here. Contrary to popular belief, many of these businesses are not just here for the low tax base. Believe it or not, there are many more advantages than that. We speak English, we have a skilled workforce across IT, Finance and Pharmaceuticals (key areas for US investment) and we’re also the closest country to the US in Europe. It may only be an hour or two better than others but this is significant when much of this investment is coming from the far off lands of Palo Alto in California. I don’t for a second think that all of a sudden 28% of FDI will be re-routed to Ireland but a very small % shift would be beneficial nonetheless. Other European countries like Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein have formed a European Free Trade Association and if the UK formed something similar, the longer term impact on our economic relationship with the UK would be minimal.

It’s not looking likely at the moment with latest polls showing 45% voting to stay in and 35% voting to move out. Given the British still maintain the imperial system of measurement, the Sterling and Scotland, there is a history of resisting change. I’m not an advocate for Brexit as there’s a lot more at play here than FDI but I am an advocate for seeking out the silver lining in such a situation. Building upon the relationship we have with US businesses, we can only benefit as a nation no matter what the decision is on June 23rd.

Catch Up or be eliminated

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 12/05/2016
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“We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. That’s how Nokia’s CEO, Rajeev Suri saw their recent acquisition by Microsoft.

How could this happen to such a well-respected company like Nokia? Simple, the world of technology and business changes and changes quickly and you either do likewise or go where the dinosaurs go.

Nokia’s lack of willingness to change or indeed their inability to change are the reasons for their corporate harikari.

As a company they missed out on the learning opportunities which stem from change and a culture of change within any dynamic organisation and so they lost out on vital monetary opportunities and fundamentally also lost a grip on their business sovereignty.

Nokia are not alone in the annals of company complacency, another example of this is Kodak and how it missed opportunities in digital photography which they themselves invented. Their inability to see photography’s future as a digital future continued for decades leading to their eventual bankruptcy and demise.

What I have learned over the last few years in business is if you do not change you stand to lose way to the competition quickly. But to remain competitive you have to want to change, to embrace change and all the benefits that it will bring. You may fear to fly but you need to take flight nonetheless.

People who refuse to change and improve will one day become irrelevant to their industry. This may sound harsh but it’s a truism we need to hold on to or we will end up on the scrapheap like so many before us.

This is not scare mongering it is a warning, a caveat and most of all an encouragement to one and all to realise that change is good, change is here, change is now and that by changing and learning new skills, techniques and educating ourselves further we will provide our clients with the best advice in the market.

And remember “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

And if you are still in doubt just listen to Bowie’s 1971 Hunky Dory album, what song? well “Changes” of course.

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Business advice from the Bard

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 03/05/2016
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This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Many of us remember our school experience of the writer with some anguish, learning extracts by rote and struggling with the often unintelligible prose.

Now looking back, the complex plots of Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year-old plays are often underlined by the same challenges with which we contend in business today. In addition, some of the hundreds of words and phrases that Shakespeare introduced are in everyday use in the corporate lexicon like compromise, marketable, to negotiate, expedience and “to champion”.

So why not take a trip down memory lane to the classroom and resurrect some centuries old quotes as reminders of good business practice for you and your teams.

1. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Hamlet) All of us, I am sure, have suffered from meeting fatigue, enduring meetings about meetings. Having worked in a number of different corporate environments myself, the best organisation at living this particular Shakespearean motto was Ryanair. Any team gathering at Ryanair was an effective exchange of information and output focussed – and short! When team members spend any time in a group the required result of that session should be clearly understood and delivered. Enough said.

2. “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” (Romeo and Juliet)
A fast pace is a feature and often a necessity of our business world. I work with many technology-driven clients where the ability to be nimble is of particular importance. The most successful of these organisations however set themselves up to be able to move quickly to adapt to customer or market requirements in an environment that allows them to succeed at speed.

3. “It is not in the Stars to hold our Destiny but in ourselves” (Julius Caesar). At Accreate’s Change & Transformation Management Evening, Donal Garvey, Programme Manager for New Markets at Primark spoke about his CEO’s reference to the organisation facing an inner challenge posed by its own success. Similarly, in my time at Ryanair, Michael O’Leary often referenced our greatest threat to ongoing success as being complacent and taking the eye away from the focus of the business. In other words, our destiny was our own for the making and any limitations to success were within our gift. This articulation of what could be described as a “challenge” is actually highly empowering and both Ryanair and Primark’s stellar successes are testament to the effectiveness of living this belief in the organisational culture.

In search of excellence

Caroline Baldwin
Written by
Caroline Baldwin
Date Published: 27/04/2016
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As an executive search firm, Accreate’s task is to source the best people for the best roles. We strive to find the most talented individuals for our clients. We look for thought leaders who are highly experienced professionals at the top of their game. In short, we are in search of excellence.

So what does excellence look like? How do we know we have found what we are looking for? The standard perceived wisdom is that you need to spend a minimum of 10,000 hours on an activity or skill in order to master it.

I recently attended the Image networking breakfast event “In Search of Excellence” at Dublin’s Marker hotel. It was an inspiring morning and it was interesting to hear what ‘excellence’ meant to the speakers and their thoughts on what their understanding of excellence is.

According to one of the keynote speakers, Fiona Flannery (CEO at Depfa Bank), “Excellence is something superior, something brilliant, it is a thing done to a really high standard, an unusual, noteworthy standard that clearly sets you apart from the crowd; it’s an attribute that ticks ALL the boxes.” With her exemplary career (70,000 hours of expertise to date!) and proven track record of success, Fiona personifies the true meaning of ‘excellence’ in her field.

Fiona outlined some of the best practises that people she believes to be ‘excellent’ have incorporated into their routines.While I am unlikely to adopt all of them overnight, I certainly plan on working some of these strategies for excellence into how I approach my own career. They are as follows:

  • Have a hunger for success, as many people who have reached the pinnacle of their industries have demonstrated an innate ambition to be the best.
  • Find one or two things in the day job that you are already really strong at and aim to be amazing at them.
  • You must identify your own personal “thing” and go from being really good at it to being simply excellent at that too.
  • Work on that talent or trait in a very focused way as practice makes perfect.
  • Stay relevant, do it for yourself as knowledge is power, carve out the time in your day and treat yourself to this power.
  • I believe that, for most, ‘excellence’ is a journey, not a destination; it is a quality we find in many of the talented people we search for on behalf of our clients.

At Accreate, we are focused on sourcing high calibre individuals who consistently strive for excellence; even those who appear to have already reached the pinnacle of their professional careers are invariably focused on continuous professional development and on learning new skills. To quote one final thought from Fiona’s talk last week (that she in turn borrowed from Charles Darwin!) “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

No Inversions, No Problem

David Phelan
Written by
David Phelan
Date Published: 14/04/2016
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Over the last 12 months things have really heated up in the US regarding inversions, particularly for US businesses targeting Ireland due to our corporation tax rate which is low comparatively with other jurisdictions. Initially the threats from US congress were insignificant but this changed drastically five months ago when actions were taken which prevented a number of inversions which were in process. The big one still seemed to be rolling on as Pfizer’s planned inversion with Irish based Allergan was to break all records, valued at $160 billion. Alas, it was not to be as Barack Obama introduced the country’s strictest rules to date, blocking the move.

Ireland’s economy has benefitted exceptionally from US moves to Ireland, both for EMEA HQs and Global HQs. It’s been a major factor in Ireland’s economic recovery over the past five years and the threat of the US curtailing future investment in Ireland is a frightening prospect for the thousands of Irish employees who are employed either directly or indirectly by US pharmaceutical businesses.

However, inversions are not the be all and end all of US investment into Ireland. Most of the businesses who were planning on an inversion to move to Ireland are still proceeding with plans to set up shop here. Although not a global HQ, a base here still offers more competitive tax advantages than our European counterparts, provides a concentration of high quality, senior level talent and the benefit of providing the smoothest gateway to ex-US markets due to our language, culture and proximity to the US.

Not only do I believe that the impact will be minimal, in my opinion there will be positive benefits from this. Ireland has always been a very manufacturing focused nation and when we spoke of R&D, this was mainly in med tech and in very small and mostly unsuccessful pockets of the pharmaceutical community. If inversions for US pharmaceutical businesses won’t be possible once commercialised, this is prompting investors to look at setting up operations from day one in Ireland. Increased early stage pharma companies means the potential for even more commercial pharmaceutical businesses in the future and thus, turning Ireland into an end to end hub for pharmaceutical development, manufacturing and supply.

The Irish are highly adaptable and resilient people whom I’m sure will turn what would potentially be seen as a negative for the pharma industry here into a hugely positive outcome for our future as hotspot for leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical businesses.

Vision + Passion = Successful Mission

Lorraine Bolger
Written by
Lorraine Bolger
Date Published: 08/04/2016
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Apple is forty years old this year and it got me thinking about the journey of such an iconic company and how successful it is today. Early on Apple experienced success then failure and success again due in part to pure determination but more than that the one word that sticks out when pondering Apple’s success is ‘Vision’, the vision of Steve Jobs, Apple’s Co-founder.

Jobs knew what he wanted to create and was not going to stop on his journey until his vision was achieved. In his own words “We started out to get a computer in the hands of everyday people, and we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”-Steve Jobs

Most IT business analysts would agree that without Steve Jobs, Apple lost its sense of direction and pioneering spirit and furthermore it was his return to Apple with his messianic vision and formidable passion which enabled his company to engineer one of the greatest business turnarounds in the 20th century.

Both in business and in life - all of us are on our own personal journey and it is quite clear to me that it is those individuals with the clearest of visions and the determination to achieve them are necessarily the ones who will succeed. Whether this be in our personal lives or the working world I’d venture that the same criteria for success applies. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and then the pure passion to make it so.

I truly believe we all as individuals are capable of achieving great things in our lives yet it seems that it is only ever the minority of us that actually succeed. It is almost impossible to pinpoint exactly why this is so.

However maybe the reason is as simple as the following:

“You’ve got to find what you love”, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University

At Accreate our passion is for you to do great work, for you to love what you do. So all you need to do now is to be brave, don’t settle and share your vision with us so that we can help you achieve your full potential and remember “People with passion can change the world”.

Tax rules for a new era

Margaret Friel
Written by
Margaret Friel
Date Published: 15/03/2016
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Having attended last week’s Global Tax Policy Conference at Dublin Castle which was jointly hosted by the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Irish Tax Institute, I have a renewed appreciation for the complexities of tax, a discipline I worked in for 4 years while training to be a Chartered Accountant.

The theme of the event was ‘New rules for a new era - the impact on countries and companies’ and many of the speakers/panelists were esteemed figures from the global tax arena who traveled from all corners of the world to discuss and debate a range of issues related to tax reform. Among these were well known names such as Pascal Saint-Amans from the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD and Bob Stack, Deputy Assistant Secretary (International Tax Affairs) at the US Department of the Treasury. To give a balanced view, senior figures from multinationals voiced their opinions and concerns on behalf of the industry sector. Topics ranged from the BEPS Project to the US tax policy agenda, building tax infrastructure in developing and transitional economies, the power of tax data and Transfer Pricing.

The event was extremely well run and well attended and afforded an excellent networking opportunity for tax professionals from over 20 countries. Ireland was ably represented on stage by numerous Partners from our leading accountancy practice firms as well as tax experts from within the Revenue, the Department of Finance and the Irish Tax Institute. It will be interesting to observe how the policies which were discussed will evolve and whether proposed reforms actually come to fruition in the coming years. If so, last Thursday and Friday’s robust and engaging debate would suggest that many compromises will have to be reached along the way!

Time to get yourself elected?

Date Published: 24/02/2016
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It’s difficult to ignore the fact that it’s election week in Ireland. Newspapers, TV and all forms of social media are consumed with it and hastily erected posters hover conspicuously on almost every second street lamp. Candidates are busy presenting the most polished, perfect versions of themselves to an ever more discerning electorate who will decide their fate. The fear of losing keeps even the most seasoned campaigners awake at night. There’s a lot to play for.

The election trail draws many parallels with a senior level job search; firstly, candidates must be prepared to present themselves and their career experience for scrutiny online and in front of interview panels whose task will be to interrogate them to determine their potential suitability for a particular role. Assuming they succeed at the first hurdle, further rounds of questioning will follow. Throughout this process, candidates are competing against other like-minded, similarly qualified peers. For some, it is an opportunity to shine and an arena in which they thrive whereas, for others, it is a competitive and unfamiliar environment that unnerves them.

So what have we learned in recent weeks from the campaign? Perhaps one of the most obvious departures from previous elections has been the manner in which our Politicians (whether tech savvy or not) have been forced to embrace all aspects of social media like never before, given its ubiquitous presence and its power to communicate instantly. In terms of advertising our own personal brands, this has become the norm and candidates must be prepared to step outside their comfort zones in this regard. Other familiar messages have also been reinforced; appropriate attire should be carefully selected for interviews/public appearances; preparation is paramount as performances will be carefully critiqued; the ability to sell yourself is crucial; CVs (like manifestos) should be clear, accurate and authentic; handshakes should be firm.

Ultimately, whether a candidate’s aim is to get elected into government or to secure their preferred job through a comprehensive interview process, the fundamental principles remain the same - they each must appeal to their audience by ensuring they set themselves apart from their competition - this is the key to securing a ‘number 1’ vote.

Change & Transformation Management Event – Dublin 28th April

Date Published: 12/02/2016
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Accreate Executive Search has a specialist division dedicated to executive level Change Management Leaders working both in industry and also within Management Consultancies.

On April 28th, we will hold an evening event focused on Change & Transformation Management in Dublin and are inviting attendees to register.

For the last decade, both local and global economies are in a constant state of flux and organisations seeking growth have witnessed many disruptions and challenges to their business objectives.

Business Leaders often struggle to respond to external factors which challenge an organisation and prompt change. These include the growing effects of globalization; more intense competition; fast changing technologies; political or regulatory changes or simply a mismatch between the utilisation of technology and current managerial systems.

Internal factors that impact on the profit margins of an organisation (and equally require change management) may relate to triggers such as low performance; morale or poor productivity.

Therefore aligning ones strategy with business objectives requires not only an effective change management plan, but also a clear implementation strategy led by an effective Change Management Champion.

As theorised by Field-Marshal Count Helmuth von Moltke, “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and Change Managers / Change Leaders often have to prepare for all outcomes and obstacles.

With this in mind, we will hold an event on April 28th 2016 to observe some examples of what these Champions of Change actually do during major organisational change.

Speakers will include a Country Manager for a multinational Pharmaceutical manufacturer who has ushered in a complex reform programme over the last 18 months. Other speakers will be Change Management experts who have an excellent mix of in-house and consultancy experience and will share their stories, challenges and strategies on effective change and transformation management within the Irish marketplace.

Spaces are limited so for those of you interested in attending, please email to confirm your place.

Venue Accreate Executive Search, Connaught House, 1 Burlington Road, Dublin 4
Date Thursday 28th April 2016
Time 6pm – 9pm

6pm - canapés/drinks reception
6.30pm - Introduction to Speakers
6.40pm - 8pm – 3, Guest Speakers
8pm - Q&A

A Formula for Leadership

Date Published: 08/02/2016
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Many multinational organisations have taken to assessing their existing or prospective employees using a number of psychometric assessments in order to ascertain whether they have what’s needed to be leaders in their business. Now don’t get me wrong, these organisations also conduct face-to-face meetings – however, some will reject an applicant solely based on unfavourable test results, irrespective of what their performance at interview might be.

How valid is this method of selection? What defines a good leader? Who develops this formula for leadership?

I understand that aptitude tests can be a great ally to decision makers when selecting candidates but I question their efficacy when used as a deciding factor in the selection process. I have witnessed first-hand candidates being accepted or rejected based on the results of such tests, only for the business to subsequently realise that they made a huge mistake in losing the best candidate to a competitor who decided purely on interview.

We are very complex beings and the type of leadership required differs from person to person, team to team and business to business. To define a ‘one fits all’ formula for leadership just doesn’t work. A leader has to be someone who can take/develop a strategy for a business or business unit and inspire, empower and motivate your employees to succeed in carrying out this strategy.

So, how do we determine who the best leader would be for our business? We ask them how they would deal with certain issues, handle difficult situations with employees, drive performance in the business and we then go with what we feel. Passion, sincerity, believability are all traits that are palpable when meeting someone face to face. If you feel these emotions from a candidate together with the desired responses to interview questions, then you have just found your own formula for leadership.

Learning by Blogging

Date Published: 01/02/2016
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In this day and age, contributing relevant online content to company websites has become a part of the job description for many professionals.

Personally, I initially found the task of writing blogs nerve racking and the thoughts of being evaluated by friends, peers and external customers made it a stressful experience. Then came the usual questions: what will I write about? Will it be good enough to publish… etc.?

However, I have noticed interesting by-products from writing articles that will be released into the public domain; improved writing and literary skills? Hopefully! Furthermore, one gains a much better understanding of the subject matter through actively reflecting on, say a HBR article, industry event / conference or a market specific incident.

Learning Styles and Reflection

As highlighted by one of the founders of functional psychology in the 20th century; students do not learn from experience, rather they learn from reflecting on experience.

Scholars have taken such observations into the 21st century by observing similar learning benefits from students involved in authentic blogging, which encourages and facilitates reflection. Reflection is, in turn, associated with higher order learning outcomes and is highly thought of in many third level institutions (Manchester University, for example, consider it an essential element of successful critical thinking).

Personally, I have begun to enjoy the opportunity to write articles and now seek to incorporate subjects (not just about executive search) that I believe are of interest to our audience, but I also proactively seek opportunities to better understand / research specific subjects that are of personal interest.

Furthermore, knowing I will review and analyse events I attend for future articles has changed the way I assimilate information, especially at business conferences and seminars and this has turned what could be considered a chore into a learning opportunity.

There are only so many recruitment / executive search specific articles one can write about so I can only hope this approach adds some variety and value to those of you good enough to take the time to read this!!

You were hired for YOU!

Date Published: 22/01/2016
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If you’ve ever been in doubt as to why you were successful at an interview or why indeed you were singled out amongst a legion of candidates for some important role, the reason is childishly simple

‘You my friend were hired for You’

With that in mind ask yourself this. How often have you seen someone newly hired into the Corporate environment who almost immediately begins to change themselves chameleon like into what they believe their new employer wants them to be? Why I ask do people change their personalities to suit the company they work for?

The understanding of our individual personality is profoundly important in maximizing our happiness and productivity at work. As we aim to maximize our potential, earn more money and achieve a better work-life balance it is vital that we prioritise what is most important to us. When you spend on average a third of your whole life at your place of work, choosing the correct work for you is something you just need to get right.

Like a river, work flows unceasingly into all areas of our lives, affecting our self-identity, our self-esteem, our friendships, our relationships and ultimately our opportunities for personal growth and inner fulfilment.

If it was just about the money then the work we did and where we did it wouldn’t matter but the bling is not the only thing.

Instead professionals advise to seek a ‘cultural fit’. According to organisational psychology guru Adrian Furnham “A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person.” (The Psychology of Behaviour at Work: The Individual in the Organization by Adrian Furnham )

Therefore it is vitally important to identify what job personality you are. In his book The Truth about Managing People…And Nothing But the Truth, Stephen R. Robbins writes about the six job personalities and work environment types he has identified:

  1. Realistic (Do’er) – Prefers physical activities that require skill, strength, and coordination. Traits include genuine, stable, conforming, and practical. Example professions include architect, farmer, and engineer.
  2. Investigative (Thinker) – Prefers working with theory and information, thinking, organizing, and understanding. Traits include: analytical, curious, and independent. Example professions include lawyer, mathematician, and professor.
  3. Artistic (Creator) – Prefers creative, original, and unsystematic activities that allow creative expression. Traits include: imaginative, disorderly, idealistic, emotional, and impractical. Example professions include: artist, musician, and writer.
  4. Social (Helper) – Prefers activities that involve helping, healing, or developing others. Traits include cooperative, friendly, sociable, and understanding. Example professions include counsellor, doctor, and teacher.
  5. Enterprising (Persuader) – Prefers competitive environments, leadership, influence, selling, and status. Traits include ambitious, domineering, energetic, and self-confident. Example professions include Management, Marketing, and Sales Person.
  6. Conventional (Organizer) – Prefers precise, rule-regulated, orderly, and unambiguous activities. Traits include conforming, efficient, practical, unimaginative, and inflexible. Example professions include accountant, clerk and editor.

So whatever your type of job personality, remember this, there exists somewhere out there, waiting just for you, a suitable career and a perfect fit. And if you ever find yourself in a job plagued with those nagging doubts, Am I a real benefit to my workplace? Do I really fit in here? I am the right person for the job? The answer on each occasion is yes because you were hired for you.

Or as that literary giant Dr. Seuss would put it “Why fit in when you were born to stand out”.

Executive Search 2016 Salary Survey & Benefits Guide

Date Published: 11/01/2016
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High level of demand for “C” suite executives and Compliance executives

Accreate is the Executive Search division of the Morgan McKinley Group and is the only Irish executive search firm with extensive international reach through our global office network. Accreate works with organisations on a retained and exclusive basis to find the best talent for critical and transformational leadership roles at board and head of functions level, as well as for non-executive directors. Indeed, in 2015 our focus moved up the value chain with more moves at Senior Vice President and C-suite level.

As executive level talent is overwhelmingly “passive”, i.e. not currently looking for a new role. We have typically learned about them through research or referral and reach out to them and build a relationship before an opportunity arises. Accreate is highly active on the international level and as well as placing senior executives in Ireland, over the past 12 months we secured highly sought-after individuals for appointments in countries such as the USA, the Nordics, the United Kingdom and China.

We have been particularly excited by the number of unsolicited enquiries from companies based in the United States seeking to locate high-calibre talent in Ireland. In 2015, 40% of the senior appointments we handled involved an international relocation on the part of the hired executive. International travel has become a central requirement for the execution of any senior role and this trend will continue.

Growing economic confidence, greater willingness of larger SME companies to invest in new talent, increased foreign direct investment and Ireland’s current attractiveness as a country in which to take a job (or to return to) have all contributed to a very buoyant level of activity for executive search in 2015, and our focus on the most senior-level appointments. Interest has been especially strong in the IT, food, pharmaceutical and financial services sectors.
In the current economic climate we have also observed a much greater willingness of larger companies to invest more both in terms of recruiting and retaining top talent. Senior executives are more confident than ever about their worth and expect to be rewarded accordingly. In order to eliminate any surprise counter-offers, Accreate works hard to brief clients on candidates’ current package and motivations – and with a great deal of success. It is exceedingly rare that an appointment process is disrupted by a buy-back situation or other factors such as domestic life.

At CxO level we saw a significant uplift in salaries in 2015. At the levels below the C suite (Senior Director, Director or head of function) salaries did not rise to quite the same degree, with the exception of heads of Risk, Regulatory and Compliance functions where we also saw significant increases. This reflects the situational change that we have seen over the past few years, with tightened regulatory environments on the back of scandals and losses, particularly in the financial services sector.

Candidates at the most senior levels of management are generally not actively looking for a new role, and for a good reason: they are highly sought after and precisely because they are hard to get, they will be well rewarded. However, visibility through LinkedIn, editorial content and participation as speakers at sector-specific and senior management networking events can enhance their marketability still further.

Hiring senior executives involves some hard thinking and tough decision processes. However, organisations need to act fast to avoid missing out. In 2015 we were particularly impressed at the speed with which FDI clients, especially from the United States, made hiring decisions once they had locked into the right candidate. Indigenous companies, especially the larger SMEs, need to be aware of this for fear of missing out on top talent.

Role Ireland
CEO 160,000 - 300,000
COO 140,000 - 260,000
Head of Risk & Compliance 160,000 - 230,000
VP/Operations Director 140,000 - 220,000
VP/Manufacturing Director 130,000 - 190,000
Treasury Director 130,000 - 200,000
VP/Engineering Director 120,000 - 170,000
Business Development Director 120,000 - 150,000
Head of Audit 120,000 - 160,000
VP/Supply Chain Director 110,000 - 140,000
Chief Technical Officer 110,000 - 180,000
Chief Financial Officer 100,000 - 180,000
VP/Sales Director 90,000 - 140,000
VP/HR Director 90,000 - 150,000

A positive start

Date Published: 07/01/2016
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While the first week of January is often touted as ‘the most depressing week of the year’ in the wake of the celebratory Christmas period, the beginning of 2016 may have defied the odds to a certain extent, if the initial economic indicators are to be relied upon. Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced better than anticipated Tax revenues on Tuesday (up by 10.5%), resulting in our deficit getting smaller and the expectation that it may in fact be eliminated in full next year. His positive message was corroborated by Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon who outlined that companies her organisation had invested in last year created more jobs than ever before, a net increase of 10,169 positions. 36% of these were in Dublin while the remaining 64% were outside the capital. In a similar vein, the IDA has this week reported the highest level of employment in its client companies in its 67 year history. According to the CSO, the unemployment rate for December remained steady at 8.8%, down from a peak of 15.2% in January 2012.

These positive sentiments were certainly in evidence within the executive search sphere in 2015 and they are continuing to permeate the industry today. The message has reached foreign shores with many of our ex-pats making contact again in their quest for a role back home in Ireland. There was a noticeable uplift in the number of these enquiries over the festive season.

Overall, it’s fair to say that things are on the up and, despite the fact that many of us have just returned from holidays, we have lots of reasons to think positively about 2016. Job opportunities are on the increase across all levels and the calibre of professional talent available to employers is already well lauded, with Ireland being a destination of choice for a plethora of blue chip global brands. While it’s early days, it certainly looks set to be a happy new year!

Hit 2016 With Pace

Date Published: 30/12/2015
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Now, with Christmas behind us and our belts sufficiently loosened, it doesn’t take long for us to realise we are staring 2016 square in the face! Having had a short break to spend quality time with our families and take a few days to restore some energy, the drive forward will come quick and fast in the first week of January. Many businesses have their strategies set out, their budgets refilled and shareholders knocking on the door.

In the executive search industry, January is often when clients begin to look at building up the human capital they need in order to carry out the company strategy for the year. The recruitment process can come quick and fast, so for us, resting on our laurels is never an option. It’s something we enjoy, however. Straight away we’re back in the thick of everything with renewed optimism for the year.

Q1 always sets the scene for the rest of the year and we owe it to ourselves to come out of the traps on the front foot. So don’t arrive back in January dragging your heels but hit the ground running and take advantage whilst the competition has their eye off the ball.

So all that’s left to say is……Ready……Set……GO!

Season’s greetings from Accreate

Date Published: 23/12/2015
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The team at Accreate would like to wish you and your families a Happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year. We’re truly grateful for your trust in us and we look forward to doing business with you again in 2016.

Coming Home to Ireland at Christmas is a wonderful thing.

Date Published: 17/12/2015
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It’s that time of year when thousands of Irish will return home again to Mother Ireland to visit family, friends and loved ones. They’ll also down copious pints, swallow frightening full fat fry ups and cruise their localities in search of that fundamentally Irish substance ‘craic’.

I remember when I lived abroad and would return home each festive season on a flight I’d booked as far back as August ensuring this annual trip was a certainty. That giddy feeling of returning home at Christmas is very special and in some ways uniquely Irish, no wonder considering our far flung dispora over the centuries.

It was always the little, almost insignificant things that did it for me. The Aer Lingus Cabin Crew’s smiles and utterances of “there you go now” or “you know yourself” were enough to wrap me up tight in a Blarney Mills woollen blanket of nostalgia for my homeland whilst my fellow Irish passenger’s sense of humour was for sure the icing on my Christmas cake.

This year an estimated 700,000 passengers are expected to travel through Dublin Airport over the course of the Christmas season and no doubt many of these returning ‘Wild Geese’ will be wondering if it’s time to make the permanent migration home or perhaps they are just mulling over such an impending move sipping a hot spiced mulled wine in The Stag’s Head, O’Neill’s, The Palace Bar or Mulligan’s – take your pick.

Well if they are, there is plenty of encouraging economic reports out there to convince them of just such a move home with a GDP growth of nearly 5pc this year and a further (Department of Finance) projected 4pc for next year.

Furthermore the IDA and Enterprise Ireland are projecting the creation of 120,000 new jobs between them within the next four years. Such a predicted employment boon for our country in so short a timeframe would be remarkable and it is no wonder Finance Minister Michael Noonan highlighted it in the Government’s Spring Statement.

So there you go, if ever you needed some gentle yuletide encouragement to start searching for new opportunities at home you now have it for it would seem that now is the ideal time.

There is a lot to take in to consideration when relocating back home and everything you need to know is covered brilliantly by Ciara Kenny of The Irish Times in her recent article ‘Planning to return to Ireland? Here’s everything you need to know’:

After taking all of her tips and ideas into consideration your next port of call is to talk to professionals who can guide and help you make informed decisions about your next job opportunity.

But don’t just talk to anyone, take your time and choose carefully, talk to professionals who really care about you, about your dreams, about your wishes and about your well being.

Here at Accreate we pride ourselves on ‘caring’ for all aspects of our client’s needs securing roles for them not just in the future but roles which help them create their own future.
Christmas is a time when dreams are meant to come true so let us at Accreate turn those employment dreams of yours into a wonderful reality.

Whether you want to relocate back to Ireland or simply go on an adventure and live somewhere new, we at Accreate would be delighted to talk to you.

Managing performance in a large organisation - a 3rd Dimension

Date Published: 10/12/2015
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Joe Lane, a consummate professional and Accreate’s guest blogger for December 2015.

Joe Lane is an Operations leader with extensive international senior level experience in operations, supply chain and manufacturing. He is passionate about people, lean leadership, innovation, and change management.

Here he shares some personal insights on performance management.

Managing performance in a large organisation - a 3rd Dimension

Tried and tested process….

For some time, performance management focus was on a systematic approach which tracked results and behaviour against annual objectives and standards. It took strong attention and rigor over several cycles to normalise standards and processes across multiple locations. An individual’s position on the two-axis performance plane determined remuneration and recognition. Critically it also was used to support identification of “talent”, linking directly to individual development opportunity and ultimately to career progression. The consistent process enabled a strong focus on managing both talent and poor performers within and across sites. But that is not surprising, this is all tried and tested good practise.

Un-intended consequences….

Implementing the process created a slow-burning but significant problem. Addressing poor and exceptional performers is really important but management attention was now systematically focussed on 20% of the population. But not sufficiently on the cohort of content-rich, often mission-critical, individuals that make up a sizeable part of the middle of the bell-curve. Creating a culture where the impact and needs of the critical “core” were not front-and-centre in the performance management and development process is ultimately counter-productive.

The warning lights started to flash in the second cycle, but were put down to a typical human reaction to change, increased objectivity and tighter management processes. Over time, the response within the “heavy-lifting” core of the organisation shifted from discomfort with the process, to some key individuals exiting, and then to the beginning of a measurable decline in engagement.

The Third Dimension….

The solution was to develop a third axis in the performance management process. Defining the axis initially was intuitive, defined as “Impact/Value”. It was intentionally a loose definition encompassing: personal leadership and influence; technical/functional expertise; market/customer intimacy; process mastery; and personal ownership. This was viewed over a longer time-horizon than the current year.

Performance and Behaviour continued to be scored as: Below; At and Above expectations. Impact/Value was marked at: General; High; and Critical.

The adaptation influenced the make-up of the talent pool but had no impact on the poor performer pool. Overall the focus population increased from 20% to 30%. Critically the approach is married to a talent development discussion that addresses not just those on a hierarchical career path but also on the functional/cross-functional development needs of key individuals in the core of the organisation. Pay differentiation became more sophisticated and appropriate for effective retention of key individuals. The broader one-to-one performance conversation about the 3 dimensions of performance was actually the key contributor to rebalancing engagement and reversing the trend on unwanted turn-over and dis-engagement.

Networking season in full swing…

Date Published: 01/12/2015
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So it’s December again, prime party time and the ultimate networking season! As invitations abound for corporate Christmas lunches, black tie evening events, alumni reunions and ad hoc get-togethers, time constraints often mean that we can’t say yes to everything. The decision about where and when to go should ultimately be based on our individual preferences, but it is also prudent to take a strategic view; after all, these occasions present an unrivalled platform for business development among like-minded peers. They are also particularly important for senior level professionals contemplating a change of career in 2016. A conversation with a former co-worker, college friend or indeed an informal introduction by an executive search business partner could pave the way for further discussions in the new year.

In my capacity as Practice Leader for senior level Finance roles, for example, I would suggest that an event not to be missed by ACAs/FCAs is the upcoming Institute of Chartered Accountants Christmas Lunch. The Leinster Society function will be held in the Doubletree Hotel (on Friday 11th December) and, as well as providing a fantastic forum for networking, it is also great fun - the inimitiable Des Bishop will provide after-dinner entertainment. This is replicated by ICAI divisions and other accountancy bodies throughout Ireland and indeed globally, connecting our diaspora all over the world. These are perfect opportunities to renew acquaintances that may have lapsed and indeed forge new relationships.

No matter how technologically advanced our world becomes, the ability to ‘meet and greet’ and establish strong personal connections will remain a fundamental cornerstone of business, regardless of what sector or discipline you work in. Networking events for senior level leaders are a tacit element of any job description and they should be viewed as an opportunity to sell yourself and your brand. The month of December offers an excellent opportunity to do just that, so it’s now over to you to make a lasting impression - best to use it wisely! Enjoy!!

The Value Proposition of Executive Search

Date Published: 25/11/2015
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What does an Executive Search Business actually do?

We’ve all heard the term Business Model lately – it’s widely used and many firms now seek to concentrate not only on new and innovative products/services but equally on revolutionising their business models as a key part of their core value proposition.

However, understanding the value proposition of a service provider requires a simple, relevant and intuitively understandable definition of what they can do for an organisation.

In our industry, the term most often associated with Executive Search is ‘Head Hunting’, where a search process will include both active job seekers but also those not actively on the market. This creates a search process which may require a much greater effort on the part of the Search firm to source the most relevant profiles.

More often than not, that’s as far as people’s understanding of our process goes.

Fortunately there is quite a bit more to the Executive Search process. It relies not only on the relationship of a recruitment partnership (led by a Practice Leader), but also on a full research team working behind the scenes to utilise both conventional and non-conventional means of searching a defined marketplace - thoroughly.

So what service does Accreate provide?

We present an overview of the entire market (within a scope defined by our customers) in report format - typically this is function-specific and will also include a taste of particularly capable profiles a level below the customers requirements as well as those a level above (with circumstances that make them relevant for each particular assignment).

The Report:
This report will typically consist of a complete market map (as mentioned above), a long-list overview and finally a recommended shortlist. This report will be a collaborative team effort consisting of +50 man hours and often between 60 to 200 profiles.

The Market Map:
Why a full market map? This allows our customers to review relevant profiles across their direct and often indirect competitive environment (a company supplying drills, for example, competes not only with other hardware suppliers, but also with adhesive suppliers, partition and shelving suppliers etc). It also allows organisations to review the size of the market (important in managing the expectations of Line Managers); the job titles other organisations use for similar functions and the average market salary range for these functions.

The Long-list:
This highlights those profiles Accreate has met with and deemed most relevant against the parameters of the search assignment that are both interested in working for our customer’s organisation and, sometimes equally relevant to our customers, those who are not.

The Shortlist:
Having met with the entire long-list of profiles, the short-list will consist of those Accreate has deemed most suitable against the assignment directives. It will include interview notes that contrast the customer requirements against the individual’s qualifications and experience and outlines why we have chosen these over others.

Putting the Entire Process Together:
The long-list remains important as it can produce some out-of-the-box “wildcards” which often gets our customers thinking about alternative directions the role could develop into. Plus, we’re not infallible - sometimes our interpretation differs slightly from that of the Line Managers, so having these profiles to hand can result in a deeper understanding of the assignment for both customer and service provider.

Obviously the more often Accreate works with our partners (both employers and potential job seekers), the more intuitive we become – hence why it pays to develop long term relationships. It is also important to note that a professional service is always based on accommodating the customer and their requirements – some will want more detail, some less.

Our Value Proposition?
In understanding the above process – both visible and behind the scenes; the Value Proposition and reason clients choose to work with us is based on a professional, discreet and extremely thorough process which is fully communicated, documented and presented to our customers in report form.

So if your organisation requires this type of service, why not reach out to one of our Practice Leaders today!

A Time to Plan

Date Published: 17/11/2015
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As we pass the mid-point in November, businesses begin to look at 2016. The term “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” comes to mind. Whether this be in sport, business or even in our personal lives, plans enable an efficient route forward; a proven method for how we turn our goals into a reality. Just as a good plan can set us up for success, a poor plan can lead us to failure. A good plan needs to be realistic, measurable and have a solid tactical plan within that drives forth the overall strategy.

Whilst organisations have become increasingly good at developing and executing strategic plans on a year to year basis, we often fail to make our own individual professional plans. As individuals, we too have goals and aspirations. Hence, we too need to look at planning for the year ahead. What do we want to achieve? How does that feed into my overall career goals? What do I need to do on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis in order to achieve this? Set a reminder on a monthly basis to review how you’re tracking against your plan, making slight adjustments along the way. The benefit of such a process to employers is massive. Invariably as employees make positive strides towards achieving their goals, this will tend to have a knock-on effect on how the organisation itself tracks against achieving its goals.

So whilst planning what presents to buy and parties to attend over the Christmas period, spare a thought for what your professional plan will be for 2016. You’ll thank yourself for having done so and it may be the best present you give yourself this year!

Accreate Attending -  Fi Ingredients conference in Paris 2015

Date Published: 10/11/2015
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Accreate is excited to announce our presence at this year’s Fi Ingredients conference in Paris from 20th November 2015.

Held once every two years in a major European city, Fi Europe brings together the world’s leading food and beverage buyers, R&D, business development and marketing specialists from all around the globe.

With over 1,400 leading ingredients suppliers under one roof we are hoping to meet with as many decision makers in the industry as possible.

This is Accreate’s first appearance at the Fi conference, following on from our attendance at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva in 2015.

The conference assists us to further build on our extensive network in EMEA’s Food ingredients industry. In addition it gives us the opportunity to enhance our knowledge of the top trends & key issues affecting the food & beverage industry today.

Since attending Vitafoods in Geneva last year we have worked with our leading global Food Ingredients clients on many very senior assignments including:

  • Sales Director – Dairy & Culinary (Moved from the USA to UK)
  • President – Global Pharmaceuticals (USA)
  • EMEA Food Service Business Development Manager (London based)
  • France market map/General Manager France (France based)
  • Head of Marketing (Ireland based)
  • Head of Commercial (Ireland based)

If you are considering a senior career move in the future or have gaps in your executive team that you would like to fill, we would be more than happy to meet with you for a confidential discussion in Paris. We arrive on the 30th November and depart on 4th December 2015.

Please drop me a line on

Nota Bene - Take it outside

Date Published: 03/11/2015
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Nota Bene often abbreviated as "N.B.", "N.b." or "n.b.", nota bene comes from the Latin notāre ("to note") and bene ("well"), instructing one to note well the matter at hand.

On a recent autumnal hike in the Wicklow countryside I walked upon a farm gate with an N.B. written large, its red letters striking against a white background, instructing one and all to close the gate after passing through it. Taking due note, I did as instructed and found myself standing still in a beautiful, isolated, wind whipped location, leaves of gold, brown, yellow and russet-red acrobatically twirling and dancing in the gusts of wind, the fresh air all around me.

It was the most alive and vital I had felt all that week long so little wonder the “Nota Bene” bells ringing clearly in my ears concerned fresh air and how it affects us all so positively.

Due to our sedentary urban existences we human beings more than ever need to get up and get out into the fresh air. Daily there is a huge emphasis placed on wellbeing in the work place, with lip service given to evermore studies demonstrating hazardous workplace habits and their detrimental effects on the workforce. The recent Wall Street Journal’s article on “The Price We Pay for Sitting Too Much” is yet another.

Paraphrasing it – they say fresh air to be the key to put an end to our collective woes, as it; lowers stress levels, promotes success at work, triggers our skin to produce vitamin D (necessary to combat cancer), reduces levels of depression, promotes healing, sparks creativity, increases life expectancy, boosts immune systems and finally improves sleep quality.

As if that wasn’t enough it also helps clear the mind, improves concentration and promotes clear thinking, all vital for a productive day at the office. The articles author’s highlight the scientific fact’s that fresh air alters the brain’s levels of serotonin which improves your mood promoting a sense of happiness and well-being.

Basically it cheers us up and let’s face it, we would all prefer to sit beside someone in a good mood at work!

If we ever take the time to think about the life and wellbeing of a child, any child, never once would we call into question their need and fundamental right for fresh air and enjoyment of the great outdoors and we arrive at such an opinion for a good reason. From the article ‘ ‘ in Early Childhood News come the following words of wisdom -

“ The outdoors has something more to offer than just physical benefits. Cognitive and social/emotional development are impacted, too. Outside, children are more likely to invent games. As they do, they're able to express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. They feel safe and in control, which promotes autonomy, decision-making, and organizational skills.”

Well what are adults only grown up kids with debts, mortgages, insecurities and neuroses? So everyone listen to me now, I’m not asking you to do this I’m telling you. Go take a ten or fifteen minute break. Get up now from that desk of yours. Skip the staff canteen. Get up and go outside. Out into in the fresh air. Go out and play. Go out there, breathe deeply, and when you are done come back to the office to wreak productive havoc.

In the words of the great Sufi poet Rumi “The morning wind spreads its fresh smell. We must get up and take that in, that wind that lets us live. Breathe before its gone.”

Nota Bene - Take it outside

Website Development: Our agile approach to improving

Date Published: 30/10/2015
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Introducing Galileo - A usability project to improve user happiness. Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has given feedback on our websites over the last 12 months. It has been invaluable to us, providing us with a real insight into the areas on the site that need improvement. We also took the plunge to adapt an agile methodology so we plan to release new features and improvements to the website in a staggered approach; see an earlier blog post on this.

And so the story begins!

Step 1. Requirements gathering

We added a feedback comment box on all websites two years ago (it’s located on the the page after you apply to a job). On average we receive 750 comments a month - the good, the bad and the ugly! The majority is good, which give us great confidence that we are doing something right! About 15%of the feedback is bad or ugly! We used this feedback as the basis of our website analysis. We worked with our marketing teams across the globe to gather requirements from their teams. Each member of the online team also submitted their ideas and suggestions.

Step 2. Analysis Feedback

The online team held multiple workshop sessions to analyse, group and prioritise the extensive list of feedback. It was interesting to see that some ideas were listed on the requirements spreadsheet several times and most of these were also popular on the user feedback doc. The output of these sessions shaped the scope of this project - A usability project to improve candidate happiness across our global suite of Morgan McKinley websites. The project divided into 30 individual release projects. I’ll write a part two blog specifically talking about the detail of each release project!

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3. Project name

We needed a name for the project! We were driving each mad calling it something different! We had a internal voting game to name the project. This was a fun thing to do, but also gave all team members a change to put their stamp on the project at the early stages. The winning name was ‘Galileo’ chosen by our design team. Why Galileo - General all round genius - his most famous invention was the telescope. Galileo made his first telescope in 1609, modeled after telescopes produced in other parts of Europe that could magnify objects three times. He created a telescope later that same year that could magnify objects twenty times. Basically made it better (hat tip to Sarah O’Brien and the design team!!!)

4. Estimate

It was then necessary to figure out how long each release project would take. Our online work remotely so we ran a remote poker estimation session to give time estimations for each of the 30 release projects. We used a tool called planning poker. This was a fun session. We had our team of developers, our UI and UX designer and team lead involved. For each release I read out the objective and background to the project and each member ranked it, small (1 day), medium(1 week), large(2 weeks) or x large(2 weeks+). We discussed each and agreed on the t-shirt size.


5. Planning

We use Portfolio Management from JIRA Atlassian to plan our project, It’s a great agile tool to help forward planning. In addition to our planned project work, we also work on a lot of unplanned work, the advantage of portfolio management is that the system will highlight where there is a resource issue!!

Next Steps

We are only a few weeks into the development of this project so watch this space! My next blog will go into more detail on each release and I also plan write a short blog when we each project goes live! I’d love to hear your feedback on our approach. Also if you have any feedback or suggestion on how we can improve our website then I’d LOVE to hear from you. Send me an email or add your comment below!

Great Night at the Pharma Awards

Date Published: 27/10/2015
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Thank you to Yvonne Kennedy from Horizon Pharma for attending Pharma Industry Awards (above photographed with from left – Lorraine Bolger, Aga Kuzdzal, Emer Glynn and Margaret Friel from Accreate).

It was a great night for all involved at the Pharma Industry Awards last Thursday. Accreate had a wonderful evening with our clients and would like to thank them all for attending and celebrating with The Pharma Industry Awards 2015 winners.

David Phelan, Life Science Practice Leader, Accreate, presented the Pharma Leader of the Year award to Dr.Reg Shaw. David Burke, Managing Partner, Accreate, presented the Research and Development Achievement Award to Professor Anne Marie Healy and Professor. Kieran Hodnett, Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre.

Accreate among the sponsors at the Pharma Industry Awards 2015

Date Published: 21/10/2015
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This year’s prestigious Pharma Industry Awards will take place tomorrow, Thursday 22nd October, at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin 4. The event offers an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the work of top performing individuals and corporates within the highly competitive pharmaceutical sector, ranging from those in start up phase to other well established household names. Presentations will be made in respect of the pharma, biopharma and biotech companies of the year as well as recognising achievements relating to research, partnership alliances, operational excellence, education & training, health & safety, innovation and sustainability initiatives.

From an executive search perspective, the pharma/life sciences sector has been particularly dominant throughout 2015 in terms of hiring senior level professionals for a suite of key leadership roles, outperforming many other industries in this regard; the scope and diverse mix of opportunities on offer across Finance, Tax, HR, R&D, Sales & Marketing and Supply Chain is attracting top tier domestic as well as global talent. We expect this trend to be in evidence again in 2016 as Ireland continues to be a location of choice for indigenous and international companies in this space.

We at Accreate have established many long-standing relationships with pharma sector business partners, both in Ireland and abroad. We look forward to sponsoring the ‘Pharma Leader of the Year’ category at tomorrow’s awards ceremony and to networking on the night with an estimated 400 professionals in the industry. Perhaps we will see you there!

When the World Doesn’t End

Date Published: 13/10/2015
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So according to the Pennsylvania-based eBible Fellowship, the world was due to end on 7th October 2015.

For anyone particularly worried about it, rest assured, it didn’t happen! However, much like the global financial crisis, many people around the world were unable to see past the problems of today and threw any plans for tomorrow out the window.

Now that the crisis has passed (relatively speaking), both firms and individuals are refocusing on the future. I attended a workshop and conference for Management Consultancies (IMCA) Dublin last week and many major practices are seeing record client-side interest, particularly in advisory areas such as change and transformational management.

This got me thinking about the nature of short and long term relationship building in business and, more specifically, how these relationships are often developed in boom times but how cash becomes king as soon as the tables turn.

Looking at executive search as a service provider and supplier, one could argue that the net result is to find a suitable professional for a vacant position within a client firm. However, the level of contribution and communication between customer and supplier can go a long way in adding value and offering a competitive advantage to our clients.

Taking Reek & Long’s four-stage development model as a framework for comparison; they describe the different levels of strategic contribution that specific departments (or by extension – external suppliers) can add to the overall business.

1. Suppliers can be utilised in a passive role – one that offers no strategic direction and primarily reacts to requests from clients or other internal functions. This is often synonymous with quick-fix and reactive operations, allowing for little inter-functional communication whilst focusing on best price and quickest turnaround.

In recruitment terms, the firm simply seeks an end result and will utilise numerous providers, often working through online application systems; these suppliers may predominantly compete on price as well as speed of service.

2. Next is an independent role – one that adopts latest techniques and practices but remains independent from the firm’s competitive strategy. This again focuses on cost competitiveness and efficiencies but does gain some recognition from senior management within the organisation in terms of the value a reputable supplier can add to the service.

In this, an executive search provider with the latest technologies, widest networks and strongest understanding of the client’s sector is recognised by business leaders as important.

3. A level above this is the supportive role – which not only provides a service but also proactively supports the firm’s competitive position.

In executive search terms, this is where the supplier begins to become an extension of the client firm, is kept abreast of hiring strategies, relationships are formalised and their further development is encouraged. Building on past experience allows the customer/supplier to react faster whilst the supplier proactively monitors and analyses the marketplace to stay ahead of the firm’s future hiring plans.

4. Finally we look at the role of integrative contribution – where the function and/or supplier is fully integrated into the competitive strategy of the firm and offers a competitive advantage within the firm’s marketplace. In manufacturing one can see different levels and terms used including Early Supplier Involvement (ESI), Supplier Integration in NPD (SINPD), Collaborative Product Development (CPD) as well as Collaborative Planning and Execution (CPE).

In executive search, permanent lines of communication are created and continuously developed, the supplier is an integral part of the firm’s hiring strategies and the executive search or managed services firm is consistently representing the firm in a positive light to the most sought-after professionals in the wider marketplace.

There are, of course, drastic differences in a passive client/supplier relationship when compared to an integrative relationship; however a supportive role (number 3) is the most likely relationship many firms would strive for. The benefits of closer integration and fewer suppliers involved in a process allows for more effective communication, synergy and ultimately competitive advantage through productivity and efficiencies over profitability and cost savings alone.

So, now that the world hasn’t ended and firms look to a future that doesn’t revolve around survival, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at your supplier network and identify the partnerships most likely to enhance your firm’s development within this Brave New World!

Fight or Flight?

Date Published: 05/10/2015
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When it comes to your career, we often invoke the fight or flight response. At some stage in most people’s careers, we need to fight for a promotion or look for other opportunities outside of the business in order to seek the progression we desire.

There’s an anxiousness that is often built up when people have been in the same role within an organisation for a prolonged period of time with little or no progression. This can be made even more difficult if that individual has close relationships with those they work with and feels as though it may be difficult to walk away from “what they know”. Whether to stay and put your case forward for progression with senior management or to leave for potentially greener pastures really does depend on each individual’s situation.

It’s always advisable to at least discuss this with your reporting manager and be as upfront as possible with how you are feeling about your place in the business and desire to progress. You can’t expect progression simply for time served, so it’s important to outline your contributions to the business and the areas in which you have improved since gaining your current position.

If there is just no room for progression due to the organisational structure or the attitude of your line manager, you need to be prepared to look externally. This is an incredibly daunting task at times, especially if you have been with the business for a considerable amount of time and are very much socially involved with your colleagues. They say moving job is just behind moving house in terms of stress levels and I would well believe it. The first step is the hardest but most importantly, just talk to someone. That may be a family member, a trusted colleague, a friend who is in a similar industry or a professional in the recruitment industry. Do your research on the roles, salary levels, locations and employer reviews.

No one gets lucky in their career, creating luck is about being prepared to take advantage when an opportunity presents itself. So whether you stay and progress or seek to leave the business, be prepared to grab any opportunities with both hands.

Dealing with Ambiguity in Opportunity

Date Published: 24/09/2015
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I recently read one of Sheryl Sandberg’s quotes on opportunity which goes: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat.”

I thought it particularly relevant and interesting for the world of executive search.

Like with most things in life – there is often no such thing as the “perfect role”. When it comes down to it, particularly at Executive level there may be compromises to make in order to join that “Rocket Ship” organisation. One key trait of the candidates that I have matched with clients successfully has been their ability to excel in environments that are ambiguous or in change – in other words – being open to moving seats on the “Rocket Ship”. In particular today, businesses have to be agile to continue to compete and gain market share – their senior teams need to be equally strong at embracing and driving continuous improvement.

Having said that, the more senior the role, the higher the risk involved for both our candidate and our client. The stakes are high. Part of our role at Accreate is to mentor candidates through the selection process and to give our very best guidance as to whether the opportunity on offer is the right move for that individual.

Best advice:

  1. Use your executive consultant to give you their best insight into their client, including what challenges they are facing and what they are trying to achieve with this key hire
  2. Research, research, research – it’s that simple. Find out as much as you can about the organisation’s strategy, vision and financial stability
  3. Tap into your Network – work your own network to gain feedback of the type of organisation you may be joining
  4. Observe – throughout the interview process you will meet the executive team and even board members. The insights you gain here will be key and use the time well to probe on strategy, vision as well as the particular role. But, don’t forget to ask the receptionist or the future colleague in the lift how they like working at the organisation – this feedback always speaks volumes
  5. Once you have completed your research and the interview process, it’s decision time, and it’s our task here at Accreate to guide you through the decision-making process.

To infinity and beyond

Date Published: 17/09/2015
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Wonders never cease!

That cheesy pickup line - “Your eyes are the windows to your soul” may now have some scientific basis after all. According to a new study by Yale University lead researcher Christina Starmans and study co-author Paul Bloom of the Mind and Development Lab at Yale, most people intuitively feel as if their “self” (otherwise identified as their soul or ego) exists in or near their eyes.”

Well whatever the hallowed halls of academia have to say on the subject, I’m a firm believer that the window to your soul as a company is quite simply your website. Living as we do in the postmodern, button pressing maelstrom of the digital age we struggle daily just to keep up. All that spare time promised to our parents through technological advances has conveniently disappeared into the ether. All that’s left to us poor mortals is a never ending game of catch up with no sign of a finish line in sight.

As a result when I visit a website for the first time I want my journey to be an easy one and not the mindless 27 click navigational equivalent of a descent into a mind numbing hell.

Accreate is a ‘people business’ and we believe that the business is all about you. Hence in creating our new website, both our vision and brief were crystal clear. We wanted to portray ourselves just as we are - friendly, professional and approachable. Whilst at the same time we also want to share our news with you, keep you included and gather your vital feedback.

When I started working on Accreate’s new website design I quickly realised that actively listening when collaborating with people was the key as we collated all the information and data we needed. However making decisions and committing to them is also vital, for the world of website design cares not for the procrastinating Hamlets of this world.

Websites have beginnings, yet in essence they are inherently without end. More so they are a journey whose destination is a web of engagement with as many people as possible in our wide world. Growth, change, development, improvement and enhancement will be our design bywords.

Of course there are guidelines and tools to help you try reach your target audience but once your website is live, your “baby” is out there and there’s no controlling who views it.

So if I had to give any advice it would be this “Don’t just have a good website, have a great website”. In this way it will have a solid foundation to grow, improve and thrive. And, like any proud parent you can gently guide it out into the real world where it will build its own relationships, reaching out every moment of every day to your future customers ‘To infinity and beyond’

Embracing change…

Date Published: 10/09/2015
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As the summer holidays fade into memory and we ease ourselves into the familiar ‘back to school’ routine, many of us use this time of the year to psyche ourselves for the winter months and the tough grind until Christmas (a mere 15 weeks away)... Junior and Leaving Cert results have been announced, college courses selected and parents’ anxiety parked until the next set of exams… the constant churn for students is in many ways mirrored by those on the work ‘treadmill’, many of whom share common (less than positive) sentiments during the latter part of the year.

Rather than focusing on the impending dark nights, perhaps it’s time to dwell on the positives and use September as an opportunity for a fresh start; college will open up a whole new set of possibilities for students and those in the world of work still have time to close out 2015 very successfully. In business terms (certainly in executive search), ‘Quarter 4’ and the lead up to it tends to be the busiest time of the year. Companies setting their budgets for 2016 are focused on securing top tier talent at leadership level to drive their businesses forward and their strategic planning to make this happen is actively underway.

While embracing change will of course necessitate moving roles for some, this won’t be the case for everyone; rather, it might mean aiming for a promotion, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, signing up for a course or assuming additional responsibilities. Whatever its connotations for you, there’s no time like the present - the winter will be shortened if you take control of it and your enhanced résumé, no matter what stage of the career ladder you’re at, will thank you for it - carpe diem!

Are we facing a Technology Talent impasse?

Date Published: 31/08/2015
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Type in a broad search on one of Ireland’s leading recruitment sites for “IT” and you get 2,965 vacancies. Compare that to “Tourism, Travel & Airlines” you get 35 results. It doesn’t take a computer scientist to work out what this is telling us!

While the jobs that are listed on the recruitment site are often career starter or middle management roles, they are still of concern to Accreate. Why? Because the people carrying out these roles are on the path to the CIO, CTO, VP Engineering and CDO roles of the future.

According to the IDA’s website “Ireland’s ICT sector is world-renowned and continues to flourish. Nine of the world’s top 10 ICT companies are located here and the IDA supports over 200 firms. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually”.

However, they go on to say that “High quality technical talent is readily available throughout Ireland”.

While this is very true, these candidates are most often already in great roles. With the amount of new and growth firms in ICT, there are just not enough talented candidates to go around. And let’s not forget that it’s not only ICT companies that require technology talent. It would be difficult to find a large company in Ireland who has not woken up to the fact that technology is a critical enabler to improve customer experience and to maintain a competitive edge in today’s digital world. For example last year, Ryanair announced the opening of a “state-of-the-art digital and IT innovation hub” based at its Dublin Office Campus in Swords, needing 200 new staff to develop “a world class online travel platform”.

The average Central Applications Office (CAO) points required for a Computer Science degree this year is about 450, which makes entrance relatively accessible. But do we have enough students entering the “Career pipeline” for the technology leaders we require for the future?

According to the CAO, 4,882 students selected courses defined by them as “Engineering/Technology” of which 2,924 chose these courses as first preference. It’s interesting that the number of first choice applicants matches almost exactly the number of vacancies open on today. If the numbers stack up we won’t be able to keep up with demand.

So what needs to be done? While I don’t pretend to know all the answers there seem to be a few no brainers:

1. Teach computer science at senior school level
2. More women in tech – why? There are many arguments out there around gender equality etc. But let’s look at the bald facts. Less than 7% of technology roles in Europe are filled by women - We need more technologists – ERGO - We need more female technologists
3. With the majority of these roles being based in Dublin, and the cost of rental accommodation soaring, it won’t be long before the Googles and Facebooks of this world realise that their junior and middle management people can no longer afford to live in the city. If our homelessness issues don’t get the government to move on the issue – perhaps the thought of the likes of Google exiting the building will.

Doing Business in China - Conclusions

Date Published: 19/08/2015
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Having returned from my MBA elective ‘Doing Business in China’ which was held in partnership with the University of Manchester and Tongji University in Shanghai, I certainly had to alter some preconceived assumptions about the country and the challenges of doing business there.

The workshop was held over a content-packed 5 day period with visits to local Chinese firms as well as multinational firms with successful innovation hubs in Shanghai. I also had the opportunity to work in Accreate’s Shanghai office following the workshop and contrast the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in executive search processes compared to Europe.

Whilst it would be an insurmountable task to condense all that I learned into an article format, there were 5 key observations which I believe are worth discussing:

1. How China has (largely) lost its long-held cost competitive advantage to other developing countries and regions including Indonesia, Vietnam and Eastern Europe

The minimum wage has increased by an average of 14% YOY for the last decade and in some of China’s key manufacturing provinces, costs are now on par with some US states. There is still an advantage of economies of scale for many Chinese firms; however these wage increases are further exacerbated by stagnating productivity and RMB appreciation which has consistently appreciated against other major currencies over the last decade.

2. How - because of point 1 - China is seeking to move capabilities both up and down the value chain, particularly aiming to make China an R&D / Innovation leader in key sectors over the coming decade

This is evident when reviewing China’s significant investment in R&D - from a platform of $15.7 billion in 2002 to $193 billion in 2013. The Chinese government has divided the strategic emerging industries (areas of focus in its 12th five-year-plan) into pillar industries (energy-saving/environmental protection, next-gen IT, biotech and high-end equipment manufacturing) and forerunner industries (new energy, new materials and new energy autos). These industries will benefit from significant support in the form of tax incentives, subsidies, bank lending and direct financing over the coming years.

3. How, despite the abundant choice of man-power (over 1.3 billion citizens), one of China’s biggest challenges is securing skilled talent, particularly in technical industries

In 2012 a total of 23.9 million students attended higher education institutes and China is soon to graduate more PhDs each year compared to any other country in the world, however China continues to suffer from a lack of consistency across third level curriculum standards. It was also the opinion of the Vice President of one major organization we visited that innovation is not as strong in China due to embedded cultural differences.

Urbanisation and cost competitiveness are at odds with one another in that the large cities on the East Coast are likely to have attracted almost 500 million people from western rural areas between 2005 and 2025 whilst at the same time companies based in the east are seeking to move production and operations further west to remain cost competitive through cheaper labour costs, lower taxes and incentives from prefecture, county and township governments.

4. How China is seeking to move away from its GDP-growth-dependence on foreign investment by focusing on growth generated through domestic consumption

China’s expanding middle class is set to grow from 40% in 2013 to 75% by 2019. Part of the Chinese government’s current 5 year plan is set around the ‘Three Pillars of Consumption’ which sees private consumption moving from a GDP contribution of 27% between 2000 and 2010 up to an estimated 51% between 2020 and 2030, according to McKinsey analysis.

This is already moving in the right direction with the percentage of Chinese families living below the poverty line decreasing consistently. However 51% of GDP is generated by 31% of the total Chinese population with significant differences in wealth distribution between both the ‘super rich’ as well as throughout different provinces (Shanghai versus Gansu, for example). Therefore in order for China to truly benefit from the rise of middle income families, evenly distributed across regions and sectors, additional growth opportunities to offset the dependence on FDI are being sought.

5. Finally, how cultural practices including Guanxi, Hongbao and Zhong Yong play a significant role in successfully doing business in China and foreign companies seeking penetration may well fail without incorporating these into their business strategies

I learned many little gems of information ranging from how to greet and seat business guests, receiving and giving gifts, business cards and even the placement of your glass when toasting with your superior. We discussed in detail how being humble and saving face are everyday aspects of Chinese business culture and understanding the power of building people relationships – especially in government, utilities, healthcare and telecom sectors is essential; while in more transactional industries such as consumer, FMCG and related industries Guanxi principles are often less important.

Overall, the course was very enlightening and brought home how essential it is for any organization seeking to conduct business in China avoid the pitfalls of imposing a Western business strategy on an Eastern market without adapting to the local culture. Also (and a good example being the Chinese Governments current battle against an equity rout and free-falling commodity prices), it is strategically imperative one pays close attention to the governments 5 year plans as a one-party system can go a long way in supporting or hindering sector growth depending on the current government strategy.

Mitzberg, Porter and a new found appreciation of Monday evenings..

Date Published: 05/08/2015
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In a few short weeks, I will finally complete my MBA at Trinity College Dublin. It really seems like a lifetime ago that I made a pact with a friend (over a couple of beers in Ranelagh it must be said) to apply… voilà, here we both are two years later on the cusp of graduation.

Since that fateful June day, we’ve had countless assignments, projects and presentations; Michael Porter and Henry Mintzberg have become like close family friends; the vagaries of discounted cash flow modelling has lost its mystery and those pesky exams (all 18 of them!) are a distant memory.

There have been plenty of upsides - the week of strategy lectures given by David Venter (who led the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa), the camaraderie of our class (an interesting bunch of individuals to say the least!), Trinity College and its unique history, have all been obvious highlights. There have been downsides too…..trudging to Tuesday evening Quantitative Analysis lectures in deepest, darkest November certainly springs to mind!!

Admittedly there were more than a few times when I questioned my motivation (balancing full time work and an MBA makes you somewhat of an authority on time management) but I must say, I’m really glad I went through the process. It is expensive and it is exceptionally time consuming but I do sincerely believe it has developed me, both professionally and personally, in ways which will be useful for the rest of my life.

And this now leads me to another important question, what am I going to do with all that free time??

Holiday season heralds prolonged hiring processes

Date Published: 21/07/2015
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Holiday time is here and, with it, the season of the prolonged hiring process. This is particularly in evidence in the executive search market where several interviews are commonplace for senior level professionals, often in addition to psychometric testing and possibly a ‘meet and greet’ with prospective colleagues in Ireland or abroad. With candidates and hiring managers alike jetting off in search of the sun and quality time with their families, a minimum of 4-6 weeks can typically be added to the standard interview timetable, from first round until offer stage, to accommodate clashing schedules. Patience and flexibility are required on all sides during this time.

Accreate’s sister company Morgan McKinley’s recent Irish Employment Monitor interestingly highlighted that, while there were 31% more professional opportunities available between January - June 2015 compared to the same period last year, there was a decrease of 15% in overall jobs (across all levels) coming onto the market from May 2015 until June 2015; the latter figure is reflective of the season and a reversal of this lull is likely to be seen again in September when activity levels return to normal.

Another noteworthy statistic from the employment monitor is that there has been an 11% decrease in the number of professionals entering the jobs market compared to June 2014, as it is becoming increasingly passive. The candidate community tends to be more passive over the summer months and also when they are being well looked after by their current employers in terms of career progression and monetary reward/compensation & benefits. This underlines the requirement for hiring companies to fully explore both the ‘active’ and ‘passive’ candidate pools when sourcing top tier leadership for their teams; executive search mandates will ensure the most comprehensive coverage.

In spite of the vagaries of the market, the duration of the interview process and the manner in which the talent is sourced, a key constant remains for employers during the holiday season and indeed throughout the year - they will happily wait an extra month or more to secure their preferred candidate. Therefore if your trip to the sun is imminent or you are reading this as you laze by a pool, drink in hand - sit back and relax - if you’re the most suitable person for the role, you’ll get it!

You Can’t Replace The Face

Date Published: 24/06/2015
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At an executive level, travel is par for the course. Many, mostly larger, organisations may have access to state of the art technology which aids the communication process but the general consensus is that this doesn’t replace the impact and value of face-to-face meetings. Although there may be a cost in terms of time and money, this tends to be outweighed by the efficiency, effectiveness and engagement achieved in face to face meetings that cannot be reached to the same extent over a Skype or conference call.

How often have you sent or received an e-mail where it has been received in a different context to which it was intended? Meeting in person helps to eradicate misinterpretations. One of the reasons for this is body language. Important forms of communication such as facial expressions and body posture are lost on a conference call and it’s rarely just about what you said, but rather how you said it and your demeanour when saying it.

More than ever, executives in global organisations are working through a larger workload under increasing time constraints and at a faster pace. Face to face meetings may seem so inefficient when we have invested so heavily in more efficient technologies. These technologies are fantastic and I use them myself every day, but so far there has been nothing that can quite match a meeting in terms of effectiveness. Striking that balance between effectiveness and efficiency is the modus operandi of our executives today. Let’s just hope that our hunger for use of technology doesn’t drive us toward efficient ineffectiveness!

MoneyConference - Belfast

Date Published: 18/06/2015
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MoneyConference - a spin-off of Paddy Cosgrave’s Web Summit, made its debut in Belfast this week. The conference, a much smaller affair than the Web Summit, based in Belfast’s Titanic quarter, was a well run event attracting interesting and influential speakers.

A common theme in the content explored how large, established Financial Institutions are transitioning their customer service and product range through technology, and start ups who are either offering challenger payment options or providing innovative technology solutions to the established payment community, whether that be retail banks or credit card providers.

Through Accreate’s work in building senior technology teams with Irish banks I find it interesting to learn that, in a non-irish context, the AIBs and Bank of Irelands of this world would be classed as “challenger” banks due to their comparative small scale vis a vis their European counterparts. As such, they are changing their approach to how they manage technology. What was in the past largely a “Build” approach is now transitioning to a largely “Buy” structure. Core banking can be bought off the shelf, whereas, the front end - that is the technology that you and I as consumers experience, for example online and mobile banking - is being created and by smaller specialist start ups, or the likes of Deloitte or Accenture. These providers are specialists in digital technology and can build bespoke solutions for financial institutions. As one Head of Digital for one of the “Big 4” told me at this week’s Money Conference: “Core banking is core banking - what’s specialised and should be bought is the front end”.

So what does that mean for you and I, the consumer? Hopefully, over time, our domestic banking experience should become a lot better. As the MD, Direct Bank of Royal Bank of Scotland pointed out in his keynote this week: “Our customers’ expectations are set by how they experience other (i.e non- banking) services”.

It is the banking sector’s challenge and opportunity to catch up with their technology, despite their highly regulated and largely legacy environments, and offer their customers the same service through technology experience as we get every day when we book travel, shop online or consume most other services through E & M Commerce these days.

Personally as a consumer - I can’t wait!

China trip - Part 1

Date Published: 12/05/2015
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As I write this, I am en route to Shanghai to attend the final workshop of my MBA studies. This elective, called ‘Doing Business in China’, includes visits to companies such as SAP, and Yangshan Deep Water Port. While here, I will also be spending time at Accreate’s sister company, Morgan McKinley, which is nestled in the Bund, one of the city’s most upmarket office locations.

While my intention is to write a summary of my findings (watch this space!) I wanted to contrast my initial intentions for choosing this elective with the reality of the experience.

So why did I choose this elective?

I visited Hong Kong back in 2002 when I ran my own brokerage business, but had yet to visit ‘the mainland’ of China; as a result, I am keen to enhance my understanding of the country as well as the size and potential of the Chinese market. What is clear from previous MBA workshops as well as general current events is that many businesses are either present in, or are seeking to expand into China, based on the growth potential that exists when many of the 1.3 billion population moves from low to middle income status.

China has opened its doors to international markets, and it is clear that the sleeping dragon is awakening and the increased influence of the Chinese market is being felt internationally.

Having worked in the Middle East, Germany and Ireland, I understand that there are cultural, political and economic differences in doing business internationally. My expectation at the end of the workshop is to better understand why it is important for a global business to be cognaisant of these nuances and how one can best leverage the changing dynamics of the global marketplace.

Watch this space for a post workshop analysis!

Win or Learn

Date Published: 01/05/2015
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When we think of failure, we often simultaneously think of fear. Why wouldn’t we? We’re genetically predisposed to associate failure with negativity. If our ancestors failed to catch food, they starved, if they failed to win a fight, they were killed. The world never rewarded failure but instead, doled out punishment for it.

Thankfully attitudes towards failure are changing and every day, I read articles about successful entrepreneurs or business people who talk about how their ability to take risks, learn from failure and grow from it has fuelled their success. Fortunately, we have become more accepting of the fact that many failures are necessary before greatness can be achieved.

I recently advised an incredibly knowledgeable, capable individual whom I felt had more to offer, to take on a more senior position with another business. Immediately they doubted themselves and when I asked why, they said, “what if it doesn’t work out?” They believed they possessed the ability to carry out the requirements of the role, however, we are oftentimes held back by that niggling feeling that tells us to stay put and stick with what we know. Ultimately, we all want security, but if Steve Jobs had decided to be a steady Eddie you wouldn’t be walking around with your lovely iPhone 6 now would you?

As someone who holds an undergraduate Degree in Entrepreneurship, understanding risk, assessing risk and determining when a risk should be taken was how we learned how to be good entrepreneurs. I now look back on those lectures and wonder whether the psychology students were gaining a better insight into how to really understand entrepreneurship given that I am now firmly of the opinion that, in business, the ability to control the fear of failure is more valuable than a wealth of experience in risk/reward strategies.

What we gain from these failures can teach us more than our successes. When we succeed, we are blind to what we could have done better, focussing only on the fact that we have been successful. When we fail, we scrutinise everything that led to that moment - what we did right, where we went wrong, and all of the “ifs”, “buts” and “maybes”. Failure simply means you didn’t achieve a desired objective. It doesn’t mean your career is over or that you are in some way doomed.

In fact, it means quite the opposite. To say you have failed is to say that you have learned from valuable experiences and if you’re lucky, have learned from them to become an even better version of yourself – both professionally and personally.

As an old rugby coach of mine would say, “You win or you learn, you never lose”.

The Power of Influence

Date Published: 23/04/2015
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Last week, I had the pleasure of spending two days in Belgium attending lectures by David Venter - an ex-Harvard/MIT lecturer, and world renowned expert on negotiation strategy. David made his name in South Africa in the early 1990s where he worked directly for Nelson Mandela on the transition from apartheid to democracy. These highly complex and fraught negations, were totally dominated by the influencing power of Nelson Mandela – a man who Mr. Venter frequently spoke of as being, ‘the greatest influence’ of his life.

David’s lectures, peppered with anecdotes of his time working with Madiba, were focussed on successful influencing strategies that anyone could employ in their daily lives. He frequently referenced the work of Roberto Cialdini, the Californian social scientist whose ground breaking work on the ‘theory of influence’ is applicable across practically all aspects of our lives – that upcoming salary review, a tricky big ticket sale…..or indeed in your personal relationships.

Essentially, Cialdini’s theory goes that there are six key principals of influence and through an awareness of these principles, it is likelier that any negotiation in which we partake, will lead to a more favourable outcome. Influencing others is challenging, which is why it’s worth understanding the psychological principles behind the influencing process. These principles are:

  1. Reciprocity – People tend to return a favour (and thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing). Cialdini often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. The good cop/bad cop strategy is also based on this principle.
  2. Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honour that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honour the agreement.
  3. Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic!
  4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s as proof of this.
  5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called an early example of viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them.
  6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” are time and time again, proven to encourage sales.

For those of you interested in more about David, I highly recommend that you watch his most recent TED Talk on negotiation strategies, which puts his experiences of working with Nelson Mandela into context.

Google’s John Herlihy’s top 3 tech trends for businesses

Date Published: 16/04/2015
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Prior to his impending departure from his role as Head of Google Ireland, John Herlihy took part in an on-stage interview at Dromoland Castle yesterday hosted by Shannon Chamber and moderated by Professor John Fahy from the University of Limerick. The insightful discussion focused on innovation and how technological trends impact business.

When asked his views on the key drivers influencing the way we live and work today, Mr Herlihy advised that businesses firstly need to be mobile. He invited each of the attendees at the event to take part in a simple experiment; he challenged us to take out our mobiles, key in our passwords and swap our phones with the people sitting next to us; as he expected, his suggestion was met with resistance. Why? It goes without saying that the vast amount of company and personal data we now hold within these small devices means that we do not wish to share it externally. The undisputed benefit is that having mobile phones at our disposal offers us instant access to information and effectively means that we can now do business from just about anywhere.

Secondly, Mr Herlihy observed that the reduced start-up costs for businesses in terms of product advancements is having a hugely positive impact. A simple example of this is a household printer, which is infinitely more effective and significantly less expensive than it would have been 10 years ago. Technological advances are such that these can now automatically configure themselves on home networks and simultaneously map the devices of the entire family, whilst also maintaining the requisite security structures.

Mr Herlihy also focused on the subject of data and knowing our customers, emphasising that there is no excuse for anyone in business not doing the latter successfully. He highlighted the importance of bringing people into your organisation with the required standard of data competency, as this is what competitors will be doing. He observed that, due to the pace of digital responses provided by customers reacting to what they see online, the user’s instant feedback renders them part of the product design process and facilitates speedy iterations and improvements; using the knowledge of what doesn’t work with the product is instrumental in helping to improve the next version.

Having led a dramatic growth phase in Google since joining the company 10 years ago in 2005, it is not surprising that Mr Herlihy is of the view that “if you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough risks.” He is an advocate of utilising the knowledge gleaned from lack of success to help fine-tune the next approach; identifying potential failure, flagging it and reallocating resources is as true in the world of sport as it is in business, where teams who ‘lose and learn’ come back as stronger champions.

The parting message from the interactive interview was that each of us must continually upgrade our technical skills and we should prepare the next generation to compete on a global stage. It is imperative that business leaders embrace technology in order to succeed and Mr Herlihy advised that those in senior positions should spend at least 40-50% of their time talking to customers; judging by Google’s phenomenal achievements during his tenure there, this certainly seems to be a mantra he lives by.

Spring arrives with optimism and big things in the future

Date Published: 09/04/2015
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It’s that time of the year again when our beautiful city of Dublin is made even more enchanting by the annual appearance of the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is called sakura.

There is something almost fairy tale like about the fluffy pink and white displays produced by cherry blossoms, their delicate flowers and colouring appeal.

So have you landed by accident on a gardening website?

No – there are many parallels to the traditional cherry blossom season and what Accreate are seeing in the market place at present. Amongst factual indicators of an economic recovery in the public domain we can add our anecdotal observations coming out of our work in Executive Search.

The season of cherry blossom corresponds to the calendar and fiscal years in Japan. This marks the start of new beginnings like a person’s first day at work. The intensity and liveliness of the cherry blossom gives the warrant for anyone to dream and hope for big things in the future and to be optimistic.

In our work for our clients, Accreate primarily is addressing a passive candidate pool. By that I mean, we are approaching promising candidates who are not actively looking for a career move and we sell the client’s opportunity to that candidate base. In 2012 and 2013 our experience was that, while candidates were often open to a conversation, they were highly risk averse and less likely to make a career move from where they were. Now we are seeing a much higher propensity to make a move for the right opportunity. Candidates who may even have stayed almost “too long” in a role through the recession up to 2015 are now considerably more open to taking that next career step.

Like candidates and career opportunities, cherry blossoms come in various shapes and sizes. For the welcome spring blossom, this means it is possible to find one to suit most gardens. Where Accreate comes in, is to suit the right candidate to the right role and vice versa.

Innovation in Design: Words of Wisdom from Business Leaders to CEOs at Ibec’s CEO Conference

Date Published: 13/03/2015
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In a new economic era where the large scale trend towards relocating manufacturing to low cost countries has completely changed the workforce dynamic of Ireland (and the West in general), the Ibec CEO Conference theme of design-led thinking on 4th March felt more than anything to be an educational ‘call to arms’ conference; encouraging Irish business leaders to look at design as the genesis of innovation in what is increasingly an R&D led economy.

Depending on your product, service and sector, an organisations designer could fall under any number of job titles. The Oxford Dictionary defines a Designer as: A person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans.

Throughout the day, the 400 strong audience was treated to (sometimes optimistic) statistics including how - if correctly implemented - for every €1 spent on a Designer, it generates €4 in profit, or how employing a Designer has a knock-on effect of generating 30 other jobs.

Ultimately the consistent theme across speakers was that design translates innovation into commerciality – i.e. design based companies earn more money by:

  • Enhancing business performance
  • Unlocking employee creativity and innovation
  • Creating stronger bonds between consumers and brands

Guest Speakers

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was one of the first speakers and, while Irish Design 2015 is a government backed initiative, both his tone and content were undoubtedly amongst the most conservative. He did however hint at a further reduction to the income tax rate on middle-income earners earning less than €70,000 in the next budget and the following budgets and also discussed the need to change the ‘discriminatory tax treatment of self-employed people inherited by this Government’.

This was of course under the caveat of his government being re-elected!

We were then treated to a passionate and thought-provoking ensemble of guest speakers including Tom Kelley General Manager, IDEO and expert on innovation, design thinking and organization design; Phil Gilbert - General Manager of IBM Design who is responsible for strategy and the transformation of product design at IBM.

Jason Mayden VP of Design, Mark One who, in his previous role at Nike as the Senior Global Design Director (he joined straight after college and stayed for 13 years), oversaw the design and execution of all conceptual products, data driven innovations and inline lifestyle and performance product for Jordan Brand.

However, in my opinion, the star speaker of the day was Interventional Radiologist and international serial medical entrepreneur Johnny Walker, CEO of Health Founders, who introduced the concept of disruptive innovation to the audience in a whirlwind presentation.

Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec discussed how, if current demographic trends continue, in less than 50 years the island of Ireland will have a population of 10 million and that drastic change is required to embrace the upcoming opportunities and challenges this will bring.

14 Points for CEOs

As the day concluded, Presenter Kevin McCloud succinctly summarised the conference speaker’s observations in 14 points intended to help CEOs develop the design capabilities of their firms. These are:

  1. Find time to think, reflect and absorb – this goes both for CEOs and also their collective workforce; creativity is not restricted to Designers and innovation can come from anywhere
  2. Build your team like a cake – utilise a diverse set of ingredients (team members) to produce something unique and innovative. Don’t fill a room with similar (in experience, culture, gender, education etc.) ‘yes’ people
  3. See your workforce as a resource for creative thinking – empower and enable a structure that allows all employee levels to speak up on creative issues
  4. Listen to the voice of your consumer – the human interaction – reach past what they say and observe them to understand fully what their needs are so you can service them
  5. Use playbacks – i.e. regular team meetings, coming together to discuss their work – criticise in an even par/equal standing point of view – this breaks down silos and hierarchies
  6. Mix technology and humanity to communicate - whether by use of everyday basic English (not business speak) or simply by drawing processes out for your customers (Johnny Walker)
  7. Experiment fast and cheap – (as advised by Edison) and disrupt / dismantle the process in the early stages then rebuild, recreate and playback to maximise the creative process (as done in IBM)
  8. Trial with User Groups – don’t just stick your product or service on the market expecting people to get it – use these groups as a form of critique
  9. Change the physical environment for your creative team to encourage the creative process
  10. Make your Designer / team report directly to the CEO – don’t let good ideas get lost in the chain of command
  11. Understand both the formal and informal creative processes and that they need equal respect
  12. Design for growth – plan and brief the design teams to factor growth into future processes
  13. Creative thinking will lead to innovation but also to efficiencies – don’t be surprised if your waste stream becomes a new resource that can make you money
  14. Reverse mentor – appoint two younger individuals to mentor you in new trends, technologies and outlooks – don’t forget: they are your future market!

Job Applications: What your competition is doing to make you look ordinary

Date Published: 20/02/2015
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I met a gentleman recently who was extremely frustrated by not being able to secure an interview with his target companies, having applied to 7 positions over the previous three months before coming to Accreate seeking advice. From his introduction I could see he was a highly qualified and articulate gentleman with over 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and found it surprising that he wasn’t already snapped up by many of the organisations he had applied to. When he shared his resumé with me I began to see where the problem lay as it attempted to cover so much of his experience that it was difficult to ascertain his main responsibilities and it was in a format that was more essay than resumé.

So I thought my advice to him might be worth sharing: If you want your application to be taken seriously, realign and reconstruct to make your resumé stand out.

Of course the obvious question is, ‘How?’

At Accreate, most of the executives we assist have 10+ years’ professional experience and range from managing departments to holding board level positions. They will typically have a diverse set of skills, industry exposure and expertise.

So, in brief, here are six points I advised the gentleman on before introducing his profile to our client employers:

Resumé Writing Tips:

  1. Resumé structure, size and format: Page one should have your personal information, a professional summary and details of your most recent role; every page thereafter should summarise approximately ten years’ worth of experience, finishing with details related to education, training and interests (optional)
  2. One size doesn’t fit all; align your resumé to a specific company or (ideally) job specification, matching keywords, highlighting their priority points and expanding on key elements of your experience comparable to the requirements of the role. Accreate practice leaders will typically meet with customers to assist in this whilst ensuring the information held within their resumé remains an accurate representation of their experience (more on this shortly)
  3. What have you actually achieved? Duties / responsibilities are good but results / achievements are great, refer to ‘My Personal Formula for a Winning Resume - Laszlo Bock’ for sensible content tips on writing an effective resumé
  4. Who were your past employers? Include a very brief company profile with an overview of their products, services or value proposition
  5. What’s relevant? Tailor the majority of your resumé to highlight key experience most relevant to this specific job application. Ask yourself ‘does what I did 15 years ago really warrant that much space?’
  6. Resumé aesthetics: Easy to read font (approximately size 10), refrain from fancy artwork or e-stationery and use sharp bullet points where possible

Words of Warning

But just remember; there is a huge difference between highlighting relevant experience and ‘embellishing’ to the point where it could be interpreted as fiction. Even if the prospective employer doesn’t consider you for the job you applied for, chances are you are now coded on their internal system so it is essential you align your resumé to remain within the boundaries of your actual experience – you don’t want two conflicting resumés on file with a company you wish to work for.

Finally, line managers often have a vision of the person they want but don’t always take the time to articulate this on a job specification so while the above tips might help, it’s important to read between the lines of a job description and, if you are right for the role, add information you feel would be important to each position you apply for. Again, this is where Accreate can assist and consult, developing a close relationship with our customers to ensure they are well represented to our client employers.

In my opinion, following all of the above only levels the playing field somewhat, and looking good on paper can only get you to the interview table.

The rest is in your hands!

Loving the improving economic climate….

Date Published: 13/02/2015
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As the green shoots of spring approach and we embrace the renewed sense of positivity permeating around us, the general mood has thankfully returned to being reasonably upbeat. The improved economic sentiment is certainly in evidence within the executive search space.

2015 has got off to a promising start with increased buoyancy at the senior end of the jobs market. Employers are benefiting from the fact that the domestic and international talent pool continues to experience significant growth as the cautious attitude associated with moving jobs in recent years appears to have dissipated; many of our diaspora are contemplating a move home, given the more optimistic economic climate and the fact that, in many cases, the career enhancing work experience they have gained abroad will be highly sought after; well known multinationals continue to select Ireland as their location of choice and are setting up here with renewed vigour, alongside indigenous SMEs and home-grown entrepreneurs.

With a wider selection of roles to choose from across all sectors, top tier candidates are also reaping the rewards, particularly with regard to job offer negotiations; in addition to higher basic salaries, benefits packages are increasingly more comprehensive. Long term incentive plans (LTIPs) offering restricted stock units and share options are becoming commonplace as employers seek to further motivate their leadership teams. Recent statistics from our sister company Morgan McKinley’s Employment Monitor indicate that the number of professional job opportunities available in January 2015 (across all levels) soared by 24% compared to the same month last year, and there was a month-on-month increase of 31% in job availability in January 2015 versus December 2014.

Only a mere 7 weeks into the new year, the outlook for 2015 and beyond is a very positive one. Valentine’s weekend seems like an opportune time to ask: What’s not to love about it?

Top tips to read your interlocuter

Date Published: 06/02/2015
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We all know that robust preparation is vital when attending an interview, interviewing senior talent or attending a business meeting. However, meeting a business contact or panel of people that you do not know is always tricky, no matter how well we prepare in advance.

It is always essential to read your interlocuter well. Aside from essential listening skills, take a look at some general insights that our body language communicates. Reading these physical gestures may just give you that extra edge:

Hands linked behind the head signalises dominance. Decisions will not be shaken by this highly confident individual.

People,who place their hands in front of them as if in prayer feel secure. The decisions that they make stand firm and they rarely change them once made.

Even when someone’s face indicates a friendly disposition, arms folded in front of the body indicate a defensive attitude. If the person you are communicating with adopts this stance, you have probably pushed them into defensive mode.

If a person wipes “imaginary” dirt from their clothes beware! This person hasn’t yet hit back they are preparing to do so. Avoid contradicting.

Touching the nose is a typical gesture indicating doubt. You need to do more convincing with this person.

Accreate Executive Search Salary & Benefits Guide 2015

Date Published: 29/01/2015
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The general upturn in the employment market for senior executives has been supported anecdotally and factually. Much has been made of those in the know talking things up in the hope that positive sentiment will filter its was through into the mindset of Ireland Inc. in the hope that conditions will improve for everyone. At Accreate , we completed a comprehensive research project to firm up on the facts around salaries and benefits for senior level executives as we settle into 2015. You might like to read our findings.

Pension Most schemes are now purely Defined Contribution. The employer will contribute up to 15% and the employee can match this, and in some cases exceed the contributions. A number of organisations continue to offer Defined Benefits schemes. These schemes often do not require a contribution from the employee.
Healthcare Healthcare packages for senior executives vary. In general, the package will cover full health care for the employee and all dependents. Some packages also include dental care although this is less common.
Bonus Bonus packages vary greatly. For senior operations professionals, the bonus is built on personal and business performance and can range from 10% to 30%. For senior business development and commercial executives, bonus percentages can be 100% of base with no cap on earnings. Many Fortune 500 organisations offer bonus payments by way of RSU (restricted stock units) and share options, as a tax efficient vehicle.
Annual Leave 25 - 30 days Car Allowance €8,000 - €12,000
Life Assurance 4 times basic salary Other LTIPs (long-term incentive plans) whereby an employee can assume a percentage equity in a business over 3 to 5 years.
Download the Accreate Executive Search Salary & Benefits 2015 Guide now >> [PDF 1.75MB]


CEO 160,000 - 280,000
COO 140,000 - 250,000
HEAD OF RISK & COMPLIANCE 150,000 - 200,000
VP/OPERATIONS DIRECTOR 140,000 - 220,000
TREASURY DIRECTOR 120,000 -190,000
HEAD OF AUDIT 120,000 - 160,000
R&D DIRECTOR 110,000 - 140,000
VP/SUPPLY CHAIN DIRECTOR 110,000 - 140,000
VP/SALES DIRECTOR 80,000 - 120,000
VP/HR DIRECTOR 80,000 - 140,000

Is your smart phone destroying the entrepreneur in you?

Date Published: 26/01/2015
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Whether you run your own business, manage a team or have a job type which requires your creative input, the procrastination and distraction that smart phones can cause, via social media, emails or innumerable other apps, may reduce your ability to come up with truly innovative ideas, value propositions and solutions for your business.

Having managed teams in a relatively flat structure, I am accustomed to the many and wide-ranging personal and professional issues that call upon your judgement or action on a daily basis. Often I found that issues could be resolved quickly, using snap judgement that experience hones; however there are always occasions when the best solutions to an issue will come, given the opportunity to ‘sleep on it’ (otherwise known as suspension of judgement). This is even more evident when seeking to develop and polish a long term business strategy.

Of course creativity is not limited to artists and authors, but is an essential tool that allows managers and entrepreneurs to ‘think outside the box’ of the opposition; which may translate into a competitive advantage for your business. Having reviewed a wide variety of literature relating to the creative process, I have found that the Incubation and Illumination processes (otherwise defined as creative conceptualization and creative output) are key elements of creativity.

The incubation stage of creative thinking equates to the ‘sleep on it’ stage and funnily enough often happens when one is lying in bed in a state of mindlessness that comes just before or after sleep. It is also associated by low demand tasks such as fishing, walking the golf course, jogging and generally switching off from a problem to allow the subconscious to process a pressing task. Illumination, otherwise known as the “Aha!” or “Eureka!” moment, equates to when a new insight forms after one returns to the issue.

As some may admit, our smart phones are significantly reducing these opportunities to experience moments of mindlessness.

So whether it’s an e-book/audio book/pod-cast, facebook/twitter/instagram or simply the ever flashing dot that notifies you of an incoming message/email; just think about how this may impact on your ability to make well thought-out decisions for your teams and business.

Remember - autosync can be muted; application icons can be hidden and smart phones can (and should) be turned off from time to time! It certainly may not always lead you to a Eureka moment; but may add a new dimension to your creative thought process.

2015 – Accreate’s outlook for the Demand for Senior Talent

Date Published: 16/01/2015
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Our parent company, Morgan McKinley, issued its monthly Employment Monitor yesterday. The signs of economic recovery reflected in the general Irish job market are very promising. 2014 saw the greatest increase in year on year job creation since 2008 according to their December 2014 monitor.Here at Accreate, the Executive Search arm of Morgan McKinley, we are also seeing signs of movement at the most senior level in organisations, both at home and abroad. 2014 was a transitional year in the Executive Search industry in Ireland. With the marked improvement in economic sentiment, our clients began to hire with a view to growth. It takes a different type of executive leadership to move from a low to a high growth environment, and we have seen a number of such organisational transitions, particularly at CEO level. Our view is that 2015 should be a landmark year, as the recovery accelerates and revenues increase.
Key trends that we recognise are as follows:
1. Senior executives are more open to a move in 2015 as there is more confidence in the market.
2. Senior technology talent is ever more required – and rare, as Ireland’s largest companies realise that technology is the enabler to gain competitive advantage, almost regardless of sector. High-skilled, sector specific assignments including Chief Technology Officer, Chief Architect, and Chief Information Officer kept us very busy as 2014 closed out.
3. Senior commercial talent in the Food sector continues to be in high demand. In the face of the shifting landscape of margins with retailers, steely commercial acumen within the Food Production sector is in constant demand. In 2014, Accreate worked on a significant number of critical appointments with clients in this industry sector at COO and Vice President level.
4. Within Financial Services, we noted a significant demand for senior talent within corporate finance and corporate development. This is as a direct result of the increase of M&A transactions taking place in the Irish market in 2014. Both Corporate Banking and Private Wealth Management have also increased their scale over the year, after a number of years of slow growth.
5. A key area of growth for Accreate has been Aircraft Leasing, with Ireland now home to 50% of the world’s leased fleet. In 2014, we placed a number of C-Suite and Managing Director level candidates with our clients.
6. Senior engineering talent is driving demand in Life Sciences, primarily in the areas of Process Development and R&D. Investment in the sector continues to grow both in Medical Devices and in Pharmaceuticals.
In 2014, 38% of the senior appointments managed by Accreate necessitated an international re-location on the part of the hired executive. Just under 50% of the roles handled by Accreate in 2014 had a travel requirement for the appointed executive.
The challenge for Accreate when servicing our clients is that, many of the skills in most demand, need to be imported. For example, on a recent extensive search for an Irish plc, from a long list of over 600 possible candidates, the shortlist contained only non-Irish candidates.

I don’t (dis)like Mondays

Date Published: 09/01/2015
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Bob Geldolf and the Boomtown Rats had a number 1 hit in 1979 with “I don’t like Mondays”. As well as the song being a rhythmic piece of musical and lyrical genius, it struck a note with the general population. It did this by identifying with what must be a predisposed psychological disdain for that particular day of the week. The Bangles in 1986 echoed the general aversion to the same weekday with Manic Monday.

I remember a teacher asking a class of which I was part what was the worst day of the week. Most people answered by saying it was Monday. For me, it was Sunday. When the same teacher asked me why I picked Sunday I answered by saying that on Sundays I usually spent the entire day thinking about Mondays! 25 years after leaving school, I would be lying if I said that the Sunday-Monday relationship still causes me the same stomach-churning angst. It doesn’t, thankfully.

Last Monday, I returned to work after almost two weeks’ leave over the Christmas period. The first week back wasn’t half as challenging as I expected. However, I spent last Sunday over-thinking what may lay ahead of me as I prepared to return to work. I even worried if I would sleep through my alarm as I got used to the odd few extra hours in bed during the holidays.

The alarm sounded - no drama. I got to the office - no drama. I caught up on what I needed to do - a few minor dramas. By 11.00am, it dawned on me that I was glad to be back. Unbeknownst to myself, I actually missed the order and discipline that the working day brings. I missed the interaction with my colleagues and the fun and banter we all enjoy. As one of my US-based clients would say “I had a moment”. That moment crystallised for me that I am lucky enough to enjoy what I do while still realising that my job is exactly that - a job. No drama. Bring on next Monday!

Ireland Is Much More Than An Attractive Corporate Tax Location

Date Published: 26/11/2014
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Ireland has received some overly negative attention in the press over recent years for its “business friendly” financial climate, but the personal and professional attractions of our great country go far, far beyond.

Nat O’Connor, the Research Director of Tasc, a Dublin-based Economic Consultancy, agreed recently that the focus should be on the more positive aspects: “Ireland needs to highlight the many other reasons why investment here is attractive, including our English-speaking, well-educated young workforce”.

I would just like to take the opportunity to agree.

Over the past couple of months, despite the on-going negative publicity, studies have shown that Ireland ranks among the top four EU member states for competitiveness, is 14th globally for connectivity and is 13th out of 55 countries in terms of its reputation. Dublin was even recently rated as the 24th most romantic city in the world.

Technology, Pharma, IT and Financial Services companies in particular are still flocking to our shores. Similar to the position of the UK, companies basing their R&D facilities here will still receive lower tax rates, but they are equally attracted by the young and educated workforce.

Ireland has the youngest population in Europe with an average age of 34.4 years. A 2010 European Commission study of third-level education stated that Ireland produced “the most highly employable graduates in the world.” Collaboration between leading-edge scientists and industry researchers is now fostering a new generation of world-class innovation. Client companies are constantly attracted by the calibre of our talent pool and Ireland’s recruitment and retention statistics are superior to those of some of our international counterparts. This high-end technology market is global in terms of the candidates it attracts, and Ireland is also now seeing an influx of tech talent from around the world.

Irish employees who emigrated during the recent recession are returning in numbers. They miss their families, the work-life balance, the beautiful countryside, the friendly people and the sense of warmth that our amazing country never fails to provide.

Needle in a Haystack

Date Published: 24/10/2014
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On a train journey recently, I was having some polite small-talk conversation with an older gentleman which developed down a topical avenue regarding business.He was a retired businessman who had enjoyed considerable success over a long career. He asked me what I did for a living so I told him I worked in Executive Search. He pressed me and asked me what is it we do in Executive Search which is different from mainstream recruitment. I explained to the gentleman that Executive Search takes a lot more time to find people as we generally delve very deep into the woods to search for talent. He wasn’t happy with my answer so he pressed me again and asked if there was one single word I would use to differentiate Search from Recruitment, what it would be. I thought for a few seconds and the word is “Research”.

Research is central to everything we do at Accreate. It is the platform on which we build our business as, in reality, we are an information organisation. Our Research team at Accreate is, in my very biased opinion, the best in the industry. I often find myself asking the team how on earth they were able to find out something which would typically be impossible to establish. The connotations associated with Research are often mis-construed. A career in Research may sometimes, incorrectly, be perceived as being a little dull and bland. At Accreate, it is the complete opposite. Our Research team work hand-in-glove with our team of Consultants and very often get to meet with our clients and candidates. Very recently, one of our clients said of our Research team “that they find the un-findable!” As our business grows, we will need to grow our team of Researchers in our quest to continue finding the un-findable.

You will have a lot of fun along the way and we are definitely interested in hearing from people who would like to consider a career in Research to help us search the haystacks.