Collins McNicholas was a very proud sponsor of the Innovating West Summit on Friday the 13th of March. This Friday the 13th was most certainly not an unlucky day as the event went off without a hitch with all in attendance being engaged in thought-provoking conversations all day.

The morning was kicked off by John Breslin and Dave Cunningham the co-founders of the summit; they introduced the main aims of the day, which were to highlight how world-class teams can be built in the West of Ireland and how to create a series of innovating ecosystems in the West.

The first panel discussion consisted of the people which are the cornerstones to Connacht Rugby; Eric Elwood, Domestic Rugby Manager, Pat Lam, Head Coach, Willie Ruane, CEO and James Duffy, Elite Player Development Officer. Through the discussion, it became obvious what has made Connacht Rugby progress to where they are today. It began with a vision and via the passion which the individuals involved poured into the club and a lot of hard work they have gotten where they are today. The audience was no less than inspired by the enthusiasm which Pat Lam expressed, he shared the reason why he chose Connacht over the five other offers he had at the time, he saw that his passion and drive were in line with Connacht’s and then and there made a decision to join the team (while later figuring out where Connacht was located). For this panel, they did not see the location of the West as a barrier to the progression of their organisation and alternatively, they posed the question of why not The West? As people make an organisation they saw Galway as a prime location with its strong sense of community and passionate people.

The topic of the following panel was what makes an innovative team; the panellists on this discussion consisted of Norah Patten, International Space University / University of Limerick, Oliver Daniels, CEO Insight Centre for Data Analytics and Fiona McCarthy, Executive Director HR, Dell. One point which arose from this discussion was having a diverse team coming from various backgrounds be it educational, of career-wise to bring a variety of experiences to the company. Communication was another key factor of establishing an innovating team this allowed the facilitation of the flow of ideas and interaction. Of course, to have an innovative team you must source innovative employees; with both a University and an IT Galway has over 20,000 students residing in the area providing an excellent talent pool.

The next discussion was surrounding the creation of an innovation district and ecosystem in the West. Maurice O’Gorman, Galway Chamber / Former COO NCB Capital, David Silke, VP Juniper / Big Innovation Centre UK and Liam Hanrahan, Senior Executive Officer Galway City Council made up the panel.

Being part of a successful decentralised team was the next area for discussion with the panellists Tom Forde, Digital and Activation Lead Bank of Ireland, John McGuire, CEO GAME GOLF, Paul Duggan, Global Account Manager Google and Paul Mockler, Business Tourism Manager, Fáilte Ireland all having enormous experience in this area. Again the panellists emphasised the importance of regular communication with reference to the form of communication; it was stressed that phone calls and facilities like Skype are much more effective forms than email and are key to the success of a decentralised team. Another aspect mentioned was trust and resisting the urge to micromanage your teams; from mutual trust and respect you get the most out of your team and they feel valued in their positions. Lastly, they spoke about managing your time effectively when working across different time zones this can be difficult and personal time must be put aside to keep an even work-life balance.

Overall this was a fascinating event with a lively pace and interesting speakers throughout the day. It was a real melting pot of business professionals from Galway and generated a great buzz for the future innovation centre. We look forward to following the success of this venture and will definitely attend next year. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all involved in the organisation with particular mention to John Breslin and Dave Cunningham.


Donal O’Donoghue

Recruitment Consultant for IT/Software roles

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group, Galway