This week, Brendan Dowling of Accelerating Company Growth tells IrishCentral what business executives can expect of the company's unique leadership retreat "The Celtic Way", coming to Ireland in 2016.
Brendan, tell us a little about your company Accelerating Company Growth: what was the inspiration behind it?
We are a group of entrepreneurs who came together to help the Irish Government develop and deliver executive development programs that would help the best companies in Ireland accelerate their own growth to drive economic growth in the economy. We are doing similar work as executive coaches, speakers and mentors for Invest Northern Ireland.
As we discovered gaps in our entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and ambition we set about creating new programs that would fill these gaps, one of these programs was the IPO Program, designed to help CEOs and their CFOs to prepare their companies for large-scale funding such as IPO. We formed ACG as a company to engage with organizations like the Irish Stock Exchange and other Business Schools that we partner with to deliver certain programs.
The inspiration to come together and design world class programs such as The Celtic Way came from witnessing the impact the programs we designed to date have had on the CEOs and their companies growth. With The Celtic Way, we wanted to create a world-class leadership program for the best leaders in the world to come to Ireland and experience something that goes beyond the well-known business schools and delivers something truly transformational for the top CXO executives at the world’s largest organizations.
Tell us about your industry: What was it like to break into?
Our industry is populated by academic-based business schools, who do an excellent job on developing world class leaders but once you have attended these colleges and are at the top of your career where do you go next? It is this gap that we are filling, offering a level of leadership development that has not been done before.
Having the credibility to deliver something that is truly world class and at a level above the major business schools is a challenge, but we have not relied on our own resources to achieve this, we have brought in some of the best brains from across the industry from academic, psychology, entrepreneurs, to executive coaches etc. We have also gone back to where giants have already walked before us to understand the Celtic Way of Leadership which has existed for centuries before us. Capturing this in a new program has been a long-term project that has taken time to research, develop and deliver.
"Once you have attended these [world class business] colleges and are at the top of your career where do you go next? It is this gap that we are filling".
How many employees do you have now?
We have a small core team of people behind the company but we bring in talented people from outside the company to help us develop and deliver the programs. This is a common model in this industry where we use the top talent available in the market as associates who work on a project by project basis.
When did you know it was time to grow the team, and how did you go about hiring?
We formed the company in 2014 but we came together as a team over five years ago and the business continues to scale today.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced so far?
Our biggest challenge to date has been to establish the credibility of our offering but today we work with some of the largest corporations delivering exceptional programs across government and private companies. We now have the results to show and can prove the impact of what we do, but prior to having these results it can be a challenge to convince some of the more established organizations that there is a new and better way to deliver executive education that drives accelerated company growth.
What's been the most important lesson?
The most important lesson is to be clear about our own vision of what a world class leadership program looks like based on our own personal experiences as entrepreneurs and business executives and to learn from our history of what has worked in the past. There have been many great leadership gurus for many centuries before us and we have a lot to learn from our past but then [we have to] apply this to the context of today.
What are your plans for 2016?
We launch The Celtic Way in 2016 and will recruit some of the top executives from US companies to come to Ireland for a week-long retreat that will be transformational for them on a personal level, and will deliver a compelling Return on Investment for the companies who send their executives on the program. We are really excited to work with these people and to create new friendships that will last a lifetime.
What are your immediate next steps and long-term goals?
We launch the program now and are recruiting executives as we speak through our web site www.TheCelticWay.ie and directly through meetings with the top executives of larger organizations.
What advice do you have for other people/companies starting out in your industry?
Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and pursue it.
The Celtic Way will be taking place in Ireland on the following dates:
February 2016: Sunday January 30 to Saturday February 6.
March 2016: Sunday March 6 to Saturday March 12.
For more information see www.TheCelticWay.ie.