Bobby Kerr: From Blanchardstown to Boston with EY's EOY finalists

We are Stateside, and learning a lot at the EY CEO Retreat in Boston

Bobby Kerr: From Blanchardstown to Boston with EY's EOY finalists

@bobbykerr / Twitter

Welcome to Bobby’s blog where I will give you updates on the CEO retreat as it happens from Boston this year.

The Retreat started on Friday with “Ireland day” where the 24 EY EOY finalists come together for a day of learning and guest lectures before jetting off to the states for a week of interaction, education, and experience in the states.

The EY Alumni (veteran entrepreneurs who have been previous finalists) and the EY team were also in The Crown Plaza in Blanchardstown  on Ireland Day where the atmosphere was electric as everyone was excited about the trip.

Newstalk always records a one-hour EOY special from Ireland day to be broadcast on Down To Business on the Saturday just as everyone is flying out from Dublin Airport. This year was no different and we started the show made up of a panel to discuss what you need to do in your company if you want to do business in America.

Lead EY partner and head of tax at EY Kevin Mcloughlin joined us as well as Ciara Clancy from Beats medical and husband and wife team Leona and Sean McAllister from a Company called Plotbox. Plotbox is the Google Maps of the Funeral and cemetery business.

We discussed the dos and don’ts of doing business in the US as well as the massive opportunity there is for Irish companies because of the sheer size of the market. Afterwards, we were joined by John Hartnett from Silicon Valley who told us you need to “play the Irish card” when doing business in America without “overplaying” it.

Next up was veteran and very colourful entrepreneur John Teeling who told us about his fascinating career and how serendipity played such a big part in his successes. He also told us that he stopped playing rugby at the grand age of 67 three years ago.

The final part of our one-hour special was when we spoke to Stephen Vernon from Green Property who told us a thing or two about the property market.

His views on how to solve the Irish housing crisis were clear and made a lot of sense. Stephen was telling me that he was trying to listen to the interview on the plane on his mobile as the plane was taking off and that the air hostess was giving him a hard time about switching off his phone. She actually thought he was doing a live on air interview with me on his mobile which I think gave all the EOY people on the plane a good laugh.

Show done and it was off to the airport. After a nice flight we arrived in Boston about 7pm on Saturday where it was a quick change and shower and down to interview our first guest who was the President and CEO of TripAdvisor Stephen Kaufer who gave a very inspiring talk to the group before dinner. TripAdvisor is a fascinating company with a $1.5bn turnover and they now offer 350 million reviews and opinions covering 6.5 million businesses across the globe.

Stephen gave the group a number of key tips.

  1. If you develop a new product or service for your business operate it separately with dedicated management and staff.
  2. If you are replacing a manager in your business’s do the job yourself for a while before recruiting someone for the role. This way you will have a much better chance of hiring the right person for the job.
  3. “Costs walk on two feet” be absolutely ruthless about every hire in your company and make management justify every single appointment even if it is in the budget.
  4. Finally change your business when things are going well. Changing when your business is in decline for whatever reason is a bad idea. Change things when you are ahead of the game.

He also told us that he had few regrets but one of them was not hiring a human resources manager early enough because every business is all about the people.

It was off to the nest for an early night as the time difference had kicked in. I always struggle with the time difference and I write this as I suffer with 'Insomnia' at 4.30 am.

I will give you more updates as the week progresses - I’m off to Fenway Park tomorrow to catch a Red Sox game.

Slan for now,

Bobby