Today we went on three site visits, and they were all very different from each other as well as different from the companies we have visited previously. It was compelling being able to contrast between the companies that we saw today, because they were all centered around varying industries, allowing us to see the sectors that each company specialized in.
We started off the day with a visit to Croke Park, which was my favorite visit of the day. Croke Park is the stadium where the finals for both the hurling and Gaelic football championships are held. As we toured the stadium we got to learn more about how both of the sports work as well as the logistics that go on behind the scenes to keep Croke Park functioning. What was most intriguing to me was the fact that Croke Park is a non-profit organization based around the help of volunteers. None of the players, officials or even security is paid for their work, and they all have full time jobs outside of the football and hurling leagues. It’s also the third biggest stadium in all of Europe, which is crazy, because the sports are only at an amateur level. The whole business model behind Croke Park is awesome to see put in action. Rather than taking on sponsorships and naming rights for the stadium, the organization keeps themselves localized, making the atmosphere around the stadium more of a community feel instead of corporate profit driven. Croke Park wants to keep the traditional games that Ireland has grown up on for years, and by keeping it as a non-profit, community driven organization, they are meeting that goal.
Our second visit of the day was to the Irish Times, Ireland’s leading newspaper. Rather than succumbing to the likes of other newspapers, the Irish Times has tried to remain independent by remaining a trust company with no shareholders, allowing all profits to go back to the business to be used for other objectives. For example, the Irish Times takes advantage of the government subsidized programs that are available, so they can use them to upgrade the skillsets of their employees. This allows their employees to take free courses that keep them up to date with new technology and skills that continue to be added to the industry, making them more efficient in the long run. This corporate and digital training allows the company to adapt to the changing workplace environment and maintain the functionality of their processes along with it. Because of this, the Irish Times has been able to remain in business through both their paper and online publications.
To end the day, we visited Davy, Ireland’s largest private stockbroker and wealth management company. Susan Hayes, CFA of the company, was our guest speaker, and she taught us a lot about innovation and entrepreneurship within one’s own work environment. The first thing she spoke to us about was differentiating yourself in order to make connections and network effectively. Much like differentiating your product in an industry in order to move up in the market, you have to be able to make yourself out to be different from every other person that is looking for the same job as you, so you can be remembered for something rather than thrown in with the rest of the group. We also learned about the idea of “intrapreneurship,” which is taking your own path and innovating within the business that you’re currently in, something that Susan was able to accomplish. Not only has she helped found the Savvy Teen Academy, which allows teens to be introduced to careers before even entering college, but she is also currently working on a new business model called BECK Search, which allows people to pay for information sessions with another client in order to learn more about their field or whatever they are enticed to learn about. This brings together the ideas of networking, good will and profit all in one idea, innovating upon the current system. She has utilized the depth of a changing environment to introduce a business idea that more fluidly fits the way people like to work today, pushing towards the future of business instead of being stuck in the past. Susan was by far one of the most interesting and influential speakers we have heard from, and it was great getting to see how you can make massive changes even within your own company if you have the right, innovative mindset.