December 2016: Launch of Emerging FDI Programme
Building on Success
An exciting initiative aimed at supporting the growing community of start-up and emerging US companies located in Ireland has been launched by the American Chamber. Ireland has established itself as the number one location in Europe for these start-up multinationals which are taking their first steps onto global markets and the new “Emerging US Company Support Program” is aimed at sustaining and building on that success.
Introducing the new initiative at Squarespace’s impressive new HQ on Dublin’s Ship Street in December, American Chamber Director of Special Projects Katie Keogh explained that the Chamber’s new Emerging FDI Working Group, supported by the IDA Emerging Business Team, will draw on the expertise of existing working groups in areas such as HR, tax, data, general counsel, and leadership and development to support new start-up companies during their first three years in Ireland.
The program and its potential were discussed by an expert panel comprising Squarespace EMEA operations director Raphael Fontes; Emergenetics director of regional operations Chelsea Dillon; IDA Ireland’s Emerging Business Division head Barry O’Dowd; and former Chamber President Bob Savage of Dell EMC.
“We have found that speed to market is critical to smaller companies starting up here”, said Barry O’Dowd. “They need to get up and running quickly in terms of bank accountants, suppliers, professional services firms, and so on. They need to get to market very fast and events like this are very important as they help companies with the softer side of the establishment process. It’s important to have as many interactions between new and established companies as possible.”
Raphael Fontes pointed out the value of a support network even to relatively well established companies like Squarespace.
“We might be a 13 year old company but at the same time Dublin was our first office outside of the US. Getting help with finding local vendors and office space and areas like leadership development is very important to us.”
“The great thing about the Chamber is that while the members might be competitors we can still come together to share best practice with one another”, said Bob Savage. “I’m going to learn a lot from this and Dell EMC has a lot of learning to pass on as well – it’s very much a two way thing. I’m very excited about the new program and it’s great to have companies of the calibre of Johnson & Johnson, Facebook, JP Morgan, Microsoft, HP, Alexion, MSD, PayPal, Xilinx, and Regeneron supporting it.”
Getting the right fit between program participants will be crucial according to Barry O’Dowd. “We need to align the needs of the emerging companies with the expertise which can be provided by the established companies in the network. By getting companies to engage on a one to one basis we can maximise the program’s effectiveness.”
Chelsea Dillon believes the programme will be of great value to her company which has just recently established in Ireland.
“We are experts in human capital and organisational development, we are not expert in those areas of business you need to help a start-up. The IDA helped shine a light in helping us find non-operational support. We are a new company establishing in a new country and it will be great to hear from others who have done that before.”
Dropbox Global Head of Customer Experience Adrienne Gormley was among the attendees at the event.
“This is an amazing initiative and I wish it was around three years ago when we were starting up in Ireland”, she said. “The IDA was super-helpful to us and we were able to reach out to other companies through our own connections. But doing it yourself takes longer. This programme will help accelerate that process for companies and that is great.”
Former Chamber President Austin McCabe has been involved in no fewer than five US start-ups in Ireland over the past 30 years and believes that the Emerging US Company Support Program typifies what companies in Ireland do better than anyone else.
“When Ireland Inc comes together to help companies succeed it’s incredibly powerful. When I was involved in those start-ups I found that if I needed anything such as power, real estate, water, or any other services help was just a phone call away. We now have a critical mass of companies across different verticals who can help these new emerging companies to succeed. I don’t think any other country can offer anything to compete with the power of that network and the calibre of the people involved.”
The first meeting of the Emerging FDI Working Group will take place in January 2017 with regular follow-up events planned for the remainder of the year. To learn more about how your company can get involved in the Emerging US Company Support Program contact…
November 2016: Future Leader's Dublin Launch
Future Leaders bring passion and energy to Thanksgiving event
Great leaders are inspirational, courageous, good listeners, givers, learners, sensitive, honest, and patient. These were among the conclusions of the American Chamber of Commerce Future Leaders event held at Facebook’s international HQ in Dublin on Thanksgiving Day.
The atmosphere fairly crackled with energy as more than 400 future leaders from well over 100 member companies crammed into the venue to explore the nature of leadership and share in the passion, wisdom and learnings of other leaders.
Taking the “red chair” on stage in true Graham Norton style, Chamber ceo Mark Redmond conducted a lively, informative and never less than entertaining fireside chat with a panel drawn from the worlds of politics, business and social entrepreneurship.
Politics was represented by the youngest Fine Gael TD in the current Dail, Noel Rock. Noel brought some unique insights into US politics as well through his experience of working with Senator Hillary Clinton while on participating on the Washington Ireland Programme.
The social innovation sector was represented by Iseult Ward, founder of FoodCloud, which has over 1,000 retail stores across the UK and Ireland donating food through their software platform, with over 5 million meals donated to over 2,800 charities to date.
Facebook Ireland head Gareth Lambe and EMEA Financial Operations Director Majella Mungovan offered the corporate perspective.
There was broad agreement that role specific skills had little to do with leadership. “It’s not about technical skills”, said Majella.
“It’s about trust, it’s about giving people the opportunity to do their best work, and to grow within the organisation.”
Trust and support is also important to Iseult Ward. “What we were doing was new and the support of different kinds of people was very important”, she recalled. “These were people who believed in us at a very early stage and bought into our passion and determination. They said they didn’t know if it would work but they still backed us.”
Gareth Lambe echoed this sentiment in his recollections of an inspiration leader he had encountered early in his career. “Michael Dwyer in PigsBack.com is a very creative and unorthodox thinker. He is a real giver. He brought me into venture capital meetings and asked me to say things even though he knew he could say them better. These are the values that I try to bring to my role here in Facebook.”
For Noel Rock it’s all about values and the ability to listen and learn.
“You need to have a North Star to guide you and you need to have clear goals”, he said. “You need to be sure you are on the right road and you need to be good at listening. A willingness to listen and learn makes a good leader.”
When asked from the floor what advice they might give their younger selves the very young panel participants had some interesting perspectives. “Don’t waste vital bandwidth on things that don’t matter or are beyond your control”, was Noel Rock’s view.
“Have the courage and confidence to reach out for support and go outside of your comfort zone when looking for it”, said Iseult Ward.
And, very encouragingly, Gareth Lambe added:
“You need to be a little bit patient. Our careers are long and many of us are going to be working into our 70s. Do your jobs well and the opportunities will come maybe not when you first expect them but they will come in the end.”