If the Future of Work is the next ‘big thing’ then it comes as no surprise that Senior HR Executives like Ronan Carolan, Head of HR, Consumer at Optus, Natasha Copley, Head of Talent & Learning at DXC Technology and Gerri Binns, Head of Leadership Development and Learning at Rabobank are constantly on the lookout for innovators in the industry.
Attending the World Employment Conference in Dublin earlier this month, as delegates on Enterprise Ireland’s Australian HR Delegation to Ireland, Natasha, Ronan and Gerri received not only a warm Irish welcome, but also took a deep dive into Ireland’s innovative HR tech ecosystem where they encountered a range of exciting workforce solutions.
Here’s how they found the trip;
Natasha, Ronan and Gerri, after having the opportunity to meet with some of Ireland’s leading HR tech providers, what are your initial thoughts on the strengths of Ireland’s HR tech sector and on the companies that you met with?
I had little knowledge of the Irish technology sector prior to my visit and I was pleasantly surprised to find an oasis of innovation. The organisations we met with all had simple, executable ideas that had been well thought through. All of them had considered how to implement into organisations of different sizes and how to integrate with existing platforms, which is always a challenge in the HR systems space.
Of greater interest was the passion that went along with the ideas. In most instances we met with the individuals who had founded the company. Despite the success they were already experiencing, there remained a clear thirst for their product and a desire to not just sell a solution but share their passion. This was very difficult to resist and left me excited to take back the ideas to my own organisation and share this passion and opportunity.
The work of Enterprise Ireland in showcasing these organisations was critical to the success. Whilst it would have been possible to simply share the products and offerings of these organisations, the opportunity to be immersed in the Dublin surroundings and meet with these entrepreneur’s face to face was a great way to experience the innovation that is bubbling away in Ireland.
On my first day in Dublin I met with Clare Bonham from Tandem who showcased their award-winning feedback platform. The platform provides for crowdsourced, real time feedback. All employees and managers can give, receive and request personalised feedback to each other in real time. The platform can align to your organisations values and behaviours thus bringing them to life in a clear manner. The platform also provides a personalised coaching dashboard as well as a user-friendly analytics centre. The solution can also be used to create and share goals.
Jonathan Campbell from Social Talent provided great insights to the importance of building capability in Talent Acquisition teams. The Social Talent solution provides individuals and teams with the skills and knowledge to source, asses, interview and hire with greater efficiency. The Social Talent solutions can improve the quality of hires, reduce the cost of hires, improve the pipeline of talent and helps to engage passive candidates. The learning platform allows talent acquisition teams to learn on the go through bite size learning. Jonathan was also a speaker at the World Employment Congress and based on the packed room he was leading one of the more sought-after speakers on that day.
Peter Jenkinson, Founder of Wrkit gave an excellent overview of their product which focuses on employee engagement and retention. Their modular platform encompasses health and wellbeing, employee discounts and savings, reward and recognition, learning and development and employee engagement surveys. The comprehensive suite of products can be tailored to fit organisations both large and small and provides the opportunity for a “one stop shop” for employee offerings that at times are frequently disparate. I was very impressed with the solution and the scalability thereof.
I did not envy Louella Morton, the CEO and Founder of TestReach who was our 5th meeting on our first day in Dublin. Jetlag was nudging at all of us and I wasn’t sure I could even say invigilator or even spell it properly by the time we met. The TestReach solution enables the creation of any type of online assessment, run it anywhere in the world, at any time, for any number of candidates, with the option of remote invigilation. The increased use of biometrics makes this a fascinating space to keep a watch on and I’m certain Louella’s business will be at the forefront of this.
All of the HR tech solutions we saw clearly have a valuable place in the corporate HR landscape, and in workplaces of the future. The experience, knowledge and passion to engage and deliver in the people space was evident from the business executives. Along with a genuine curiosity and interest in how to continuously improve their solutions.
In the health and wellness space Nutritics has a unique offering. They offer nutritional analysis software to simplify nutritional planning, food diary and recipe analysis to support improving personal health and wellbeing. It was great to have a chat with Steve Nolan, COO about the existing product and innovative ideas for the future. And to also see this system in action servicing the 2,000+ employees at the new Microsoft Campus at Leopardstown.
Another highlight was a presentation from Wrkit’s Founder Peter Jenkinson on their employee engagement suite, followed by a ‘walk and talk’ session with us weary travellers back to our hotel in the beautiful Dublin sunshine – vitamin D does work wonders to combat jetlag!
Can you tell us a little about your impression of the World Employment Conference which was held in Dublin, 6-8 June 2018?
The World Employment Conference (WEC) saw approximately 500 delegates come together in Dublin in June, with representation from USA, UK, Europe, China, Korea, Singapore, NZ and, of course, Australia. So it was not only a great opportunity to hear from global thought leaders, but also to engage in discussion and networking from senior HR professionals across a range of locations and organisations.
Many, many key takeaways. A few standouts:
- Buy, borrow or build session: Joe Ffrench, HR Director Microsoft – discussing growth mindset, reskilling at speed, talent planning, and sustained talent engagement
- Change the Way you think by moving your body: Dr Peter Lovatt – Dancing helps people to think and solve problems, Predictable dancing helps people solve convergent problems, Unpredictable dancing helps people solve divergent problems
- The role of HR in Organisational Culture and Transformation: Fons Trompenaars – navigating strategic tensions in the workplace and the intrinsic notion of inclusion+diversity+leadership.
The future of work and the rise of new employment models featured throughout the two days. Gender diversity was also a key topic. Unsurprisingly in a global economy we are all dealing with the same issues. The WEC highlighted trends we are seeing including:
- a rapid change in skill requirements;
- organisational structures shifting at speed;
- the pace of change placing a premium on learning ability and resilience;
- and that more so than ever people are looking for organisations with purpose where they can grow their skills.
There were such a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions at WEC 2018. For me the stand outs were David McWilliams, the Economist, Keith Barry, the Hypnotist, Fons Trompenaars the Cross-Cultural Specialist and finally Peter Lovatt, the Dance Psychologist. I don’t think it would be possible to have a more diverse group of speakers and yet for me, in my role in the Organisational Development space I was excited to hear that all of them were focused on the theme of connection, which is a core tenet of the work we are doing in the leadership space.
What was your overall perspective of the visit and thoughts on Ireland as a provider of innovative solutions to Australia?
Whilst it would have been possible to simply share the products and offerings of these organisations, the opportunity to be immersed in the Dublin surroundings and meet with these entrepreneur’s face to face was a great way to experience the innovation that is bubbling away in Ireland. To have seen a web-based presentation or a phone call is unlikely to have had the same visceral impact that the personal meetings had.
From my perspective, I left with a solid interest in four of the organisations we met with, each with a unique offering that I had not previously encountered here, or anywhere else. More importantly, I left with a new perspective of Ireland. Whilst the warmth and friendliness of the people is still at the centre of my impression of the Irish, an appreciation for their practical, game changing innovation has been added to my perception.
The opportunity to meet business owners, executives and subject matter experts in location is Ireland is priceless. I believe each of us were able to understand not only the HR tech offerings. But to also really gain an insight to business set up, environment and culture.
Our experience signals Ireland is indeed an innovation hub in the HR tech space.
Any final thoughts?
The future clearly isn’t a distant aspiration. In Ireland it is happening right now. With expertise, collaboration, passion, curiosity, creativity and a view of creating sustainability. An amazing opportunity both personally and professionally to experience business transformation in Ireland.
If cranes on the skyline are a sign of a booming economy, then Dublin is in growth mode!
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Contact: Daniel Spencer