President’s Blog – Planning the Year Ahead

Planning the Year Ahead

Hello Members – January is a good month for planning and setting goals for the year ahead.  The fact that 2020 is the start of a new decade provides added impetus for strategic planning.  The development of a strategic plan is important for companies as it provides the focus for the business and its staff.  Many of Sligo Chamber member firms undertake some form of planning activity.  Even without formal planning, there are often underlying strategies at work.  A good way to engage in strategic planning is to be focused externally rather than internally, to be focused on the market and on what the customer wants.

Sligo Chamber is no different from our member firms in that the Chamber Team has been engaging in planning activities for the year ahead.  As part of that planning development, we the Sligo Chamber Team recognise it is our job to listen to our members’ needs and then promote and advocate for their interests.  Listening is a fundamental aspect of Chamber messaging.  By listening, our strategic planning is focused externally, focused on our member’s needs, and on what our member firms want.  This approach has been central to the planning of Chamber Events for 2020 by Events  Manager, Mary Harty and CEO Aidan Doyle.

Among the many events Mary has planned in her calendar for the year ahead, readers may be interested to know are the London Business Network Event on February 20th which this year will be hosted at the Irish Embassy by Ambassador, His Excellency, Adrian O’Neill and his wife Aisling.  The Sligo Chamber Team will be accompanied by Ciaran Hayes, CEO Sligo County Council; Dr Brendan McCormack, President IT Sligo; and Allan Mulrooney of the Western Development Commission, each of whom along with Sligo Chamber will make presentations at the event.  A Forum for the Chief Executives of all Chambers organisations is being held in Sligo on May 12th and 13th. This is the first time that this annual gathering of Chamber CEOs will be held in the North West and reflects most positively on the status in which Sligo Chamber is held at the national level.  Also in May, a Dublin Diaspora event is planned for May 28th and will be hosted by in the Grafton Suite of the Westbury Hotel.  There has been strong interest from business representatives in Dublin with Sligo connections in attending.

The American Ambassador has agreed to travel to Sligo to present at a Sligo Chamber event.  While this will be of interest to many member firms, it will no doubt be of particular importance to our multi-national member firms whose parent bodies are in the U.S.

Building on the certainty provided by securing funding under the new Skillnet Ireland three-year 2020-2022 rolling programme, our Skillnet Manager, Geraldine Courtenay has also been active in planning Sligo Chamber training programmes for 2020. One programme worthy of particular mention starting today is the QQI Project Management Course delivered through the IPMI, a course which attracts a Level 8 award.  This the second time Sligo Chamber has run the course. The participants will benefit from learning of the highest calibre, learning delivered here in Sligo eliminating the time and cost associated with travelling to Dublin.  Member firms will benefit from the upskilling of those employees who in turn will have their skillsets enhanced to allow them increased opportunity to become future leaders.

In relation to training, Geraldine herself leads by example and last week attended Galway Technology Centre to complete her EU Studies Programme which she was invited to participate in by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly.  Geraldine made a presentation on the Programme to the January meeting of the Sligo Chamber Industrial Group on Monday last, January 20th.  It was clear from the presentation that Geraldine achieved the learning outcome from the Programme to have a more effective network of skilled personnel in the Northern & Western Region capable of leading out in the preparation of EU funding applications.

Staying with a European theme, Sligo Chamber CEO, Aidan Doyle was in Brussels last week participating in a three-day Chambers Ireland visit to the European Commission and the European Parliament.  This was a compact high-level Chambers Ireland Delegation with CEOs invited from Fingal, Cork, Shannon and Kildare as well as Aidan from Sligo, in addition to top management from Chambers Ireland including CEO, Ian Talbot.   Being invited to participate on this visit is yet another example of the standing which Sligo Chamber is held at the national level.  The focus of the meetings and discussion was on Trade, Climate Change and Fiscal Policy.

Meanwhile back in Sligo, the Sligo Chamber Board had its regular monthly meeting early on Tuesday morning January 21st.  This was my last meeting to chair as President of Sligo Chamber.  Karl Kelly was introduced to the meeting as our new incoming President.  Karl has been an active member of the Chamber Board for ten years and brings a wealth of broad experience across all aspects of Chamber activities to the role. The Presidential Handover is being held in the Glasshouse on Wednesday, February 5th at 6.15 pm and all members are more than welcome to attend.


That’s it for now.

Until next time.


Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber