EY EOY: Celebrating 20 years of entrepreneurship

Harry Hughes of Portwest is the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year

The 2017 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Harry Hughes of Portwest last night at the awards ceremony in City West. This was the 20th year of the programme, which supports the best brains in Irish entrepreneurship. 

Speaking to Newstalk.com last night, Mike McKerr, Managing Partner at EY said the event continues to go from strength to strength. 

"This has become the most prestigious business award on Ireland and that's no real surprise. Ireland is full of SMEs and therefore, a programme where some of the best entrepreneurs in the land are celebrated and judged by their peers really captures the imagination."

The EOY 10-month development programme offers entrepreneurs mentoring initiatives, executive education, and an international CEO Retreat to San Francisco. This year's retreat was the largest unofficial trade mission specifically focused on fostering entrepreneurship.

McKerr said EY enjoys working alongside the entrepreneurs within the programme. 

"You always hope that some of the magic dust rubs off on us and we can bring some of that entrepreneurial spirit into our own business. Particularly the 'can do' attitude - they really don't see obstacles and they see solutions ahead of problems."  

As a nominee this year, Andrew Irwin, Managing Director of Bedeck says the experiences gained from the programme have been invaluable. 

"We were nominated in the 'Industry Category' of the awards. You're always somewhat nervous entering something like this, but the learning that has come out of it has been tremendous. A lot of that comes from the colleagues on board - you're sharing the challenges and opportunities that face us all. It's nice to get your thinking challenge - it makes you consider new ways of working. It's been really good."


Gary and Andrew Irwin

Eyes wide open

Terry Knox, Chief Executive of CD Group was a finalist in the competition two years ago.

"I have to say, it's not what I had expected. I don't think I appreciated what a big deal it was. I probably went in with my eyes shut and came out with my eyes wide open. It was a phenomenal experience to meet other businesses to hear their experiences; some had similar journeys others had incredibly different ones. I picked up a lot of friends from it, which was an added bonus."


Had a great time at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards #eoy20years

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"Being a finalist was incredible, but if you engage with it and come back in the alumni, you can get even more value out of it. I pay to go myself to be with the guys that I've met. I've probably gotten more from it from being in the alumni than being a finalist if I'm honest!"

You can watch the awards ceremony on Be3 on Monday night at 8pm.