Connecting through the Irish Advantage
In April 2018, over 100 business leaders and buyers from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region came together with over 200 Irish companies at the Routes to Growth Asia Pacific Conference in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland. Below Dermot McCann takes us through his experiences of the trip.
Having been to many Sydney based Enterprise Ireland events over = nearly 20 years in Australia, I had never taken the opportunity to attend an EI event in Ireland nor given it too much thought. At my first event – the Routes to Growth Asia Pacific conference – held recently in Dublin, the event, agenda, attendees and organisation far exceeded my expectations. So much so I will ensure that I don’t miss another one.
The key message I took back to Australia from the conference was the sheer extent of innovation and innovative companies coming out Ireland. Unlike in Australia, Ireland and Irish companies are built for export, and the Irish government and particularly Enterprise Ireland are doing a great job globally of supporting the growth and adoption of Irish companies abroad. Attending the conference as part of a group of 120 senior executives from across the Asia Pacific region provided all of us a great insight into a plethora of opportunities, solutions and connections that we can adopt and leverage in our domestic markets. Making great connections and leveraging the Irish Advantage has been a key benefit for me from the event.
There is a lot of discussion across all industries of the impact of innovation and disruption in traditional businesses whether it is in the Banking, Insurance, Agriculture, Mobile or Digital fields. -. Home to 60% of the world’s population and two thirds of the world’s global growth, the Asia Pacific markets are the natural home for early adopters of the innovative and disruptive technologies and businesses that are coming out of Ireland in droves. The strength and reputation of Irish companies and their brand abroad is fuelling their growth, with exports of Irish businesses doubling in the past 5 years and up 16% last year.
Irish companies are thinking globally and increasingly focusing on India, China, Middle East and South East Asia. This is not necessarily the case with the Australian markets who in some industries tend to be so consumed with the domestic market that they’re failing to take advantage of the broader regional opportunity. Australian companies and the Australian government could learn a lot from the approach Ireland and Enterprise Ireland specifically have taken to leverage the diaspora and innovation to further expand Australia’s interests abroad. With the imminent impact of Brexit, Ireland is the perfect place to launch or grow their European businesses.
The agenda was well balanced with a great talk from Dr Fiona Kerr on the future of Artificial Intelligence and the impact of mindfulness and the social capital we need to maintain through neurophysiology, which simply put, asks us to put away our phones and digital devices to continue to connect as humans. This was balanced with a great panel session with senior leaders experienced at running large enterprises in Asia including Dicky Yip former CEO HSBC China, David Harmon VP Huawei, Dermot Mannion ex CEO Aer Lingus, and Martin Murray Executive Director Asia Matters who reminded us amongst other things, that our phones are our friends and that if you want to do business in China you need to be on WeChat!
Jim Thompson Chairman and Founder of Crown gave a candid recount of his success and the journey he took in developing his global operation out of China and where he sees the opportunity, specifically noting that Singapore is full, so the future opportunity and growth lies across the water in Malaysia.
Julie Sinnamon the CEO of Enterprise Ireland gave some fantastic insight and tips on how to succeed in Asia Pacific. The key take-away for me and consistent feedback I got from a lot of Irish companies and attendees at the conference was that if you’re wanting to grow or do business in Asia, Enterprise Ireland are your friends and you need to work with them.
Outside of the conference, Enterprise Ireland did a great job of ensuring that we were kept busy, that the jet lag would be worked off and that the pints of Guinness at the end of the day (of which admittedly there were a few sampled) were well earned. Each day the groups were split into relevant industry subgroups and our itineraries were packed with group meetings with businesses that had requested to meet with the various executives from the region that would be meaningful to them. Each of the meetings were conducted professionally per an agenda, they were informative and constructive with many follow up sessions booked, and meaningful introductions made.
As I had some very specific requirements, companies and technologies that I wanted to see, Enterprise Ireland were fantastic in facilitating over a dozen individual meetings for me in Ireland post the conference. This made it especially worthwhile as once I had a chance to absorb the primary intent of the conference it became meaningful when engaging those companies both in Ireland but again once I got back to Australia. I strongly recommend the event and leveraging the Irish Advantage for doing business both in Ireland as a gateway to the rest of Europe and the UK but also for Irish companies to connect with executives and businesses that can help them grow in the top markets in the world.
Dermot McCann is the NSW Director for Optus and a council member of the AIIA (Australian Information Industry Association)
For further information:
Contact: David Eccles