I think today marked one of my favorite days so far as we experience so much business, culture, and innovation within Dublin. We started our day by walking through Remembrance Park, a memorial where Irish soldiers who had fallen in previous battles were honored. I found the site to be beautiful with bright colored (or should I say coloured) flowers and a cross-shaped pool. It was one of those symbols that truly shows the culture here, as so much honor comes from the violent history of its past.
This mindset of their culture transferred to our next visit to Croke Park, which may not be the kind of park you are picturing. Instead, we toured the facility of the third largest amateur stadium in Europe. Here we learned not only of the interesting sports of hurling and Irish football but more importantly we gained insight into the value of community. The fact that the GAA is based around the idea of cultural protectionism is meaningful for their business and mission for a community based, volunteer, and Gaelic culture organization. It blew my mind that an organization so large could be a relatively successful nonprofit and their business model really intrigued me. Their ability to attract such loyal communities and over 2,500 club teams that generate a fan base invested in attending matches at Croke allows them to charge for spirit wear and tickets, while not paying the players or coaches besides giving benefits. Therefore, they have a strong brand recognition that is rooted in Irish culture for the sport. Yet, this means that it is harder for corporate partnerships as it would ruin their name and brand identity. In Ireland, it matters where you are from as it becomes part of your identity and is the basis for bonds and relationships.
Moreover, the stadium is one of the most environmentally friendly, as it runs on renewable energy, is carbon neutral, and contribute no landfill waste. Actually, our tour guide explained how despite the initial capital needed to install such sustainability efforts, it becomes a money saver in the long run. When asked about capacity utilization, it was made clear how full the stadium of over 82,000 seats is during finals season, and how competitive ticket sales can be as they are sold to clubs for them to distribute within their communities. Stakeholders of the business include these committed members and their fans, while also parents that send their kids to club teams, sponsors of the park, the TV and media, staff, and suppliers. There is great power in these stakeholders, as the organization truly relies on their support of the community mindset to operate. Overall, I was fascinated by Crokes Park and would love to one day see a game of hurling on the field while using my knowledge of the culture to strengthen the experience.
A walk down the street brought us to our next site visit: The Irish Times. After reading an article just the other day for our research paper, I was excited to see how a newspaper business in this age operates and deals with the VUCA of our complex environment. Clearly, they have done their PESTLE analysis, though, become we were informed of the measures being taken to pivot to society’s needs while keeping their identity as a paper. One aspect of the business revolves around ITT, or Irish Times Training, which is a program based operation that provides education and skills training. This diversification is just one way they are responding to the gradually declining sales of newspapers. Other initiatives, or intrapreneurial elements, include sites like myhome.ie and acquiring The Examiner. The Irish Times, being such a brand name can also leverage this brand through hosting events, which becomes another source of income.
As a trust-fund, the Irish Times does not have any shareholders and is the leading newspaper of Ireland to date. Their ability to outcompete comes from product differentiation in which their analysis and opinion portion of the paper by respected journalists is unique to such a commercially based standard. And despite a declining market, they have been online since 1995 and utilize social media to gain further subscriptions. Only recently did the company begin to do home deliveries of paper for increased access.
An interesting conversation that was brought up, as it was yesterday in Dr. Kelly’s lecture, was about the free higher level education system in Ireland and its implications on the work-force. I found this topic inspiring, as students are given more opportunities to be successful without economic barriers from the start. The fact that this is repeatedly mentioned by the Irish shows their gratitude for having the option of further education and gaining skills necessary to be productive in business. In our next visit, we explored the topic of how to be successful in business even further, at Davy.
As a private financial consulting firm, who works with individuals with excess capitals, charities, and nonprofits, with several offices throughout Ireland and the UK, Davy provided a unique perspective on the recent economic recession and how there is a redefinition of risk that is incorporated into the future strategy, highlighting the next generation economy.
However, what was most compelling about this visit was actually from speaker Susan Hayes and her advice on being successful in a business setting. Her first recommendation was to create a personal brand, highlighting three features about yourself that can be shared with colleagues before they provide their interpretation. Since individualism and differentiation are very important in a career, whether being interviewed or promoted, there needs to be a clear distinction between what makes you stand out. Furthermore, she discussed both entrepreneurship and innovation and how they can be utilized in business. By identifying who to help, how to help them, and how to tell them about your help, you can reach a target market with a solution to their problem. WIth this easy outline, it made the concept of entrepreneurship more understandable. In addition, she defined innovation as doing something differently, no matter how small or incremental. She stressed the value of failure here, and credited Americans for generally carrying this positive mindset and acceptance of being wrong. I remember getting a similar lesson in my high school, who encouraged an open mindset, so I found it interesting to be hearing this again in Dublin.
After a long day, I was left with lots to think about. Mainly, I feel inspired by all these stories from people in business that have been risk-takers and innovators and making change and impact on their communities. Also, the strong sense of relationships and connections makes me envy the Irish, as they truly care about one another and use that to build their network. If I ever come back to Ireland, which I am sure I will, I will be interested to see how this sense of history and culture continues, and how progressive innovation efforts and entrepreneurship will be.