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Ibec Voices

Author: Ibec

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A podcast series about the people and priorities behind Irish business and the global climate that shapes it. Get behind-the-scenes access to what's top of mind for Ireland's business leaders, thought leaders, and the people working hard to reboot and reimagine a better Ireland. Brought to you by Ireland's largest and most influential business lobby group. For more great content from the Ibec Voices series, visit
29 Episodes
This episode of Ibec Voices focuses on insights from thought leader Paul Polman, a former CEO of Unilever who went on to co-found Imagine, a social venture aimed at accelerating business leadership to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Paul addressed the 2021 Ibec Business Leaders Conference where he spoke about reimagining business models, a sustainable, inclusive economic recovery from the Covid crisis and the unique opportunity for business to lead on this agenda.He believes that while business leadership has a lot to do to address the many challenges that the world now faces, we have never been better equipped with so many tools to address these challenges and achieve great things. 
Ireland’s government has a very important decision to make. CETA, a trade agreement between Canada and the EU, is currently awaiting ratification from the Oireachtas, and the clock is ticking. Many other EU member States have signed the deal, and the longer Ireland waits, the more negative the consequences.  Multilateralism has never been more important for the Irish economy and business model, particularly as the country faces the twin threats of Brexit and Covid. In this episode of Ibec Voices, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy outlines the significant economic and societal benefits that trade deals, such as CETA, can deliver; and he makes a strong case for why the Irish Government must ratify this deal as soon as possible. We also hear from John Riordan, Director of Customer Support and Chair of the Board at e-commerce platform Shopify International, a Canadian-based multinational with a substantial presence in Ireland. John outlines the Shopify story in Ireland, the unique business and cultural links between Ireland and Canada, and how CETA has been advancing the cause of connected business between Ireland and Canada since 2017. He also explains the importance of sustainability to Shopify’s current and future business strategy.  
Tesco is Ireland’s largest private sector employer, with 13,000 employees across the country. Kari Daniels has led the company since September 2018. However, as most CEOs will attest,  the style of leadership required for the role has evolved rapidly in recent months.  In this episode of Ibec Voices, Kari Daniels talks to Ibec’s Siobhan Masterson about leading Ireland’s largest private sector employer through a pandemic, balancing the twin roles of CEO and Mother to 13 and 11 year old boys, and Tesco Ireland’s future.  We also hear from Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland, about the retail sector’s current challenges, priorities, and asks of government. 
Covid strategies have two phases - the suppression and the release.  In the context of where Ireland and much of the northern hemisphere finds itself ten months into this pandemic, this episode of Ibec Voices examines Ireland’s strategy to date in its fight against Covid-19. Ireland’s National Covid Strategy proposes release through national levels 5 to 1 on activities and sectoral reopenings. The Zero Covid strategy is more zonal in release, advocating for reopening by areas that are green zones in conjunction with a robust test track and trace system.We take a look at an alternative strategy to crush the virus and restore greater social and economic activity while we await mass vaccination programmes to take effect.Our guest is Yaneer Bar-Yam, President of the New England Systems Institute. Yaneer’s work has concerned itself with global pandemics for over 15 years including contributing to the response protocols which successfully stopped the outbreak of Ebola in Africa in 2014.Yaneer is an MIT-trained physicist and complexity scientist and he has been following Ireland’s experience with the Covid pandemic and the response by Government and its stakeholders. He is also Founder of the network. 
As a country, as a society, as an economy, we’ve always risen to a challenge. The devastation COVID-19 has dealt the world will test Ireland in a way we have never experienced before.Meeting this challenge will take big ideas, brave thinking and a bold approach – all of which Ibec has brought to bear in our campaign for Budget 2021.In this episode of Ibec Voices, Ibec’s Fergal O’Brien and Gerard Brady outline the campaign’s key calls to action.We also hear from Colin Hunt, CEO of AIB and Chair of Ibec’s Economics and Taxation Policy Committee, on the current economic landscape, the future of work and why sustainability and business success can go hand-in-hand. 
Ireland’s Hospitality industry has evolved at an incredible pace in recent years. Traditionally associated with pubs, restaurants, and hotels, the sector has widened its reach rapidly and now includes new, valuable drivers including festivals, activity-based tourism, cultural and food experiences, and much more.  This evolution has turned hospitality into a critical cog in the Irish economy, representing over €4bn in spend, and accounting for one fifth of all private sector employment. It has also become far more interconnected with other sectors than before, creating a complex ecosystem involving industries including Technology, Agrifood and the Sharing Economy. In this episode of Ibec Voices, Siobhan Masterson of Ibec puts forward the case for an entire rebrand of the Irish hospitality sector, to acknowledge its recent transformation and repositioning within the overall economy. In this context, the Hospitality Industry will become ‘ The Experience Economy’. Also, Siobhan Talbot, CEO of Glanbia, joins Ibec CEO Danny McCoy for a conversation about the global growth of Glanbia, food’s new position on the value chain, and the interconnectivity of AgriFood and Hospitality.  Ibec Voices is hosted by Patrick Haughey of AudioBrand 
The recent July Stimulus package was the largest in the history of the State and is an important step in rebooting the economy. Our attention must now be on safely bringing people and vibrancy back into commercial districts, offices, towns and cities. In this episode of Ibec Voices, Siobhan Masterson speaks with Frank Gleeson, President and CEO of Aramark Northern Europe, about the reopening of the Irish economy. A global provider of food through brands like Avoca and facilities and property management, Aramark operates ‘wherever people work, rest and play’.  In his role in Aramark, Frank Gleeson has a clear view of how important returning to work is to preserve the ecosystems that are central to economic revival. Also, Sharon Higgins, Director of Members Services at Ibec, talks about examples of creative pivots, accelerated digital transformation, community action and some of the positive leadership and action by businesses that we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Sustaining SMEs

Sustaining SMEs


Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of the Irish economy. They are the engine of employment and development across the country, forming part of the fabric of every community. But, as the sector most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown, many SMEs are facing a very uncertain future. In this episode of Ibec Voices, we make the case for dramatic intervention by government to save these businesses. Ger Brady, Chief Economist at Ibec, drills into the economics at play, analyses how other countries are supporting their SME sectors, and puts forward a number of specific actions that must be taken by government as soon as possible in order to avoid the mass closure of small and medium enterprises. Jonathan Hackett, CEO of Botany Weaving, tells Siobhan Masterson the fascinating story of turning his family owned company from a small clothing manufacturer into an international player, supplying fabrics to some of the world’s biggest airlines. He describes the impact of COVID-19 on his company, and how the generous supports that other governments are giving their own SME sectors, are putting Botany Weaving at a competitive disadvantage. Finally, Rebecca Harrison of Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy and Geraldine Magnier of Idiro Analytics describe how they are reopening their doors, government supports to date and those required going forward, and the incredible resilience of entrepreneurs. 
“Do whatever it takes to fix our economy, we must bring all the artillery to play” – In this episode of Ibec Voices, Fergal O’Brien and Siobhan Masterson of Ibec outline a €15bn “plan of scale” to reboot and reimagine the Irish economy.Andrew Lowe, co-founder of Element Pictures, talks about the business of Cannes Film Festival, making Normal People and the show’s role in showcasing Irish culture, and the post-COVID-19 world of film and TV production.And Noel Keeley, CEO of Musgrave Group (SuperValu, Centra, MarketPlace, La Rousse Foods), describes the company’s strategy during COVID-19, the importance of developing a digital offering as part of the overall customer experience (CX), and effective leadership at a time of crisis.
Right now, millions of working couples now find themselves juggling their two careers, their relationship, and for some their kids too, under one roof 24/7. In this episode of Ibec on Covid-19 we are joined by Jennifer Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD and author of ‘Couples that Work: How Dual-Career Couples can Thrive in Love and Work’.Jennifer has just launched a free online video series ‘Couples that Work @ Home: The Survival Series’, designed to help working couples to survive and thrive in this challenging situation. In this episode, Jennifer gives clear and practical advice to these couples and also their employers about how to successfully manage the situation. We highly recommend watching Jennifer’s video series after listening –
Covid-19 is having a significant impact on liquidity in the economy. In this episode of Ibec on Covid-19, Fergal O’Brien, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Ibec, outlines how the government can support business at this time and ensure a faster economic recovery. Topics covered:The cashflow and liquidity issues facing businesses today;Why Ireland is falling behind internationally in the provision of liquidity supports;Freezing rates, zero interest loans, cash injections, and other clear, ambitious solutions;The cost of implementing this plan – and the cost of not doing it.
Dr Kara McGann, Head of Social Policy at Ibec, has advice for employers and employees trying to balance working from home with caring for family members. We cover:The different kinds of personal circumstances that employees may be trying to cope with alongside working from home;How employers can find out who may need extra support;Creative and effective ways to facilitate employees who have caring duties, while also being fair to those who don’t;Powerful ways to communicate with your workforce.
Dr Kara McGann, Head of Social Policy at Ibec, outlines the steps employees and employers can take to protect their mental health and wellbeing at a time of crisis. We cover:The most common causes of stress and concern;The impact of ‘fake news’ on social media;Filtering out the bad news and letting in the good;The most powerful ways you can communicate with employees;Appreciating the emerging spirit of resilience, camaraderie and care in our communities. 
Maeve McElwee, Director of Employer Relations at Ibec, on the recently-announced government support package and what it means for employers and their employees. Maeve also talks about:Why it is so important to stay connected with staff;Why agility and flexibility are now more valuable than ever before;Remote work - we’ve replicated the meeting room, now it’s time to replicate the water cooler;Why it is important to keep planning even in uncertain times. 
Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, on the need to move quickly but carefully right now.  Topics covered:Why 2008 was a very different crisis;The danger of narrowing global supply chains in favour of self-sufficiency;Why this crisis has made Ibec’s idea of a new ‘social dialogue’ even more important;What we need to do today to make tomorrow’s bill more affordable;The challenges of choosing which businesses are ‘essential’ and which are not;Why those who don’t need to be out on the streets need to be off the streets.
Siobhan Masterson and Fergal O’Brien of Ibec on the next steps required to reduce the crisis of the Covid-19 shock and to ensure as much business continuity as possible. Other points covered include:How other governments have reacted to the crisis – and what Ireland can learn from them;What percentage of of worker’s salaries must the government cover?How to keep money flowing through companies in a crisis like this;The need for ambition and big thinking; Protecting self-employed income.
Irish Times columnist and author Fintan O’Toole joins Ibec CEO Danny McCoy for a wide-ranging discussion and analysis of Ireland’s business, societal and political landscape in the aftermath of the ground-breaking General Election 2020. With the composition of the next Government still unclear, they discuss the approaches that may be needed to deliver on the expectations of the electorate including calls for a new social dialogue and a Commission on Taxation.
Maeve McElwee, Director of Employer Relations at Ibec and Michael Doherty, Professor of Law, Maynooth University on parental leave, retirement age, the ‘right to disconnect’, and other challenges facing business in the new world of work. Also, Margaret Cox of the ICE Group on introducing a four-day week, and John Keaney of Siro on why a fibre network will transform Ireland. Topics covered include: The impact on businesses and employees of digitalisation, automation, and AI; Concerns about recent government approach to labour market legislation; Navigating new rules around parental leave, retirement age and the ‘right to disconnect’; Encouraging more dialogue between employers and employees.
Gary McGann, Chair at Flutter plc and Sharon Higgins, Director of Member Services at Ibec discuss business regulation in Ireland and the need for reform. Also, Oliver Loomes of Diageo Ireland has four messages for the next government; and Tony Neary of Medtronic Ireland on Medtech, talent, and helping Galway to grow. Topics covered include: The impact of two-tier regulation (EU and Domestic) on Irish business; Why short-term politics is bad for long-term success; A call for the government to back the rollout of 5G; Why regulators and business need to work more closely to achieve better outcomes.  
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