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The Fabulous Five

The picture-perfect towns that comprise the Cinque Terre have to be seen to be believed with cascading vineyards, harbours filled with colourful boats and winding streets lined with pastel buildings. Running from north to south, the villages are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. For centuries, the neighboring fishing villages have clung to the sheer cliffs on the northwest coast of Italy overlooking the clear, blue Mediterranean.

The region has been recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and is today a National Park and Protected Marine area. With few roads and access primarily granted by rail or water, the villages, although tourist hotspots, still offer a feeling of remote authenticity.

Like many visiting travelers, we started our trip in La Spezia, a small town south of the Cinque Terre. It is a cheaper alternative to staying in the villages themselves and with both the train and ferry from La Spezia serving all five villages, it couldn’t be easier to visit the region. Although most visitors get the ferry straight to the Cinque Terre, I recommend making a pit stop in Porto Venere, the first stop on the ferry route. From here, we boarded the ferry to Monterosso, the largest of the five villages and the furthest north. Getting the ferry to the furthest point allows you to take in the views and hear about the history of the region. The villages are less than five minutes apart by train so working your way back to the first village by train is the most convenient option if you’re trying to fit them all in on one day.


Monterosso is less vertical, and therefore less unique, so in my opinion, the least scenic of the five villages but it has two beautiful sandy beaches and a vibrant seaside promenade. Monterosso is the perfect spot for a dip and the crystal clear water is exceedingly inviting. The village is divided into two parts, with the medieval tower of Aurora marking the divide. While you’re here, visit the Church of San Giovanni Battista, located in the main square in the old town. The San Francesco Church, home to major art works, is also worth a visit. In Fegina, the new town, it’s hard to miss Il Gigante, a concrete statue of a giant, representing Neptune, the God of the sea.


Vernazza is the next port of call. This one-street village with a church built on the water – the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia – has a beautiful harbour with wooden boats bobbing in the waves, a small sandy beach and a great cliffside restaurant with incredible ocean views. The Tower of the Doria Castle was built in the 15th century to protect the village from pirates and is worth the steep climb. Vernazza is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and perhaps the most characteristic of the Cinque Terre, with its sheltered port surrounded by rows of shuttered buildings in a breathtaking palette of pink and terracotta.


Corniglia is the smallest of the five villages and is often ignored as it’s built high up in the cliff, 100 metres above the sea. It is the only town without access from the sea and you have to climb 365 steps to reach the centre of the little village. It’s definitely the quietest of the villages. The views are incredible so if you want to squeeze in some lunch I’d recommend making a pit stop here. Corniglia is also connected to the other villages of the Cinque Terre by well-kept footpaths, maintained by the park staff.


Manarola will be instantly recognisable if, like me, you have excessively googled images of the Cinque Terre. Some of Cinque Terre’s most recognisable photographs are taken from a spit of land that extends to the north of the town and wraps around the cliff giving beautiful views of the little harbour and the colourful mosaic of houses. This a popular spot for watching the sunset. Manarola is also a popular swimming area despite not having any sand. The tiny harbour also features a boat ramp and boats are pulled onto dry land along the main road every time the sea is rough. If you venture to the top of this steep village make sure to visit the Church of San Lorenzo. It is a truly charming experience.


Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre and is, in my opinion, the most impressive of the five villages. It is the most vertical and comprises one main street, a harbour, and a rocky beach along with a church, a castle and plenty of bars and restaurants – the perfect location to finish off your day.

Where to:

  • Meet
    • Hotel NH La Spezia
    • The NH La Spezia offers four spacious conference or meeting rooms, ideal for hosting business meetings, conferences, or seminars. Private rooms for business luncheons or dinners are also available upon request, as well as venues for private cocktail parties.
  • Eat
    • Al Settimo Cielo
    • Not centrally located but definitely worth the uphill climb from La Spezia. Ask for a seat by the window for spectacular views of the twinkling harbour below.
  • Sleep
    • Porto Roco
    • Located in Montorosso, Porto Roca is one of the only hotels in Cinque Terre with a pool and room service. Many of the 40 rooms have balconies overlooking the sea.
  • See
    • Corniglia
    • Although not the most accessible of the five villages, Corniglia should not be overlooked. The views are spectacular and worth the climb from the train station. For 180-degree sea views, make the added climb to the Belvedere di Santa Maria – a stunning cliffside balcony.

User Experience, Gaining Experience

Fiona Murphy, co-founder and Director of Ireland’s first user experience (UX) design agency Frontend, recognised the need for specialist design services for interactive technology back in the 1990s.

An industrial design graduate from the National College of Art and Design, Murphy completed a master’s in interactive multimedia from the Royal College of Art in 1996. She had gone to college and was friends with Niall O’Sullivan, founder of web design and content company Nua. He asked her to run a media company for him, O’Sullivan Associates, where she gained further insights.

“Very early on I did some research into different methodologies and realised research could be a very important component in terms of informing design for technology,” she says. “This led to a strong user centric design process, which is fundamentally similar to what we still do today at Frontend.”

As an early entrant to the UX design space in 1998, Frontend was quickly able to get clients on a global level.

“At that time there were not many agencies focused on UX design globally, and we were one of the fi rst in Europe. We attracted a lot of blue-chip clients, which recognised that UX design really had an impact on their bottom line. Blue-chip clients are really important to us to this day and at least 50% of our work is international, but we always like working with small innovative companies.”

From the outset, Frontend has been active in various sectors, including healthcare, finance and software development.

“We have always been focused on enabling product and development teams to produce better products. Now, a lot of the solutions we provide are more strategic,” says Murphy. “We are also seeing changes in expectations in terms of user behaviours, which have evolved considerably. Because of this, we have integrated behavioural economics and nudge theory into our design solutions. It’s all about how design can solve business and social issues.”

A recent example of this was Frontend’s work with Standard Life in redesigning digital touch points for customers and financial advisors, looking at supporting key tasks and how to help end-customers to save successfully for retirement.

There has been huge growth in the area of connected health for Frontend, largely driven by pharmaceutical companies’ concerns around medical adherence. “For pharmaceutical companies, digital solutions can help to facilitate higher levels of patient engagement with their treatment as well as providing data to track patients’ progress,” explains Murphy.

One of the projects Frontend has worked on in this area was with Merck Serono on a digital solution to encourage children and young adults with growth hormone deficiency to engage more with their treatment over a long period.

The in-house trend

Over the past five years UX design has become ubiquitous, in Murphy’s view. Companies large and small are recognising the importance of UX and how it improves sales, brand perception and operations. Increasingly, Frontend is going into organisations and supporting them in building their in-house UX design capability.

“We provide them with framework design systems they can work off, help them with research and
building internal teams. We are no longer just providers of design and research services, but enablers of UX design within organisations,” says Murphy.

There are currently about seven dedicated UX design agencies in Ireland. Each and Other was one of the first to be established in the market after Frontend. John Wood worked there from 2014 and three years ago decided to move to an in-house role.

“After 14 years as a consultant, I believe that is where most of the opportunity for personal growth and interesting work currently lies,” he says.

Currently managing a team of 40 designers and researchers in a company working on connected vehicle technologies, Wood was self taught in UX design.

“I learned a lot of my user research and design skills as a consultant working on a wide range of mobile and desktop products in every imaginable sector – banking, public services, telecoms and now connected vehicles,” he says. “As recently as ten years ago, consulting was the only choice for anyone who wanted a career in UX in Ireland. There were few in-house teams and a very poor understanding of UX design among businesses, so all of this work was outsourced to agencies.”

The move to in-house UX teams is driven by the recognition that UX is a key differentiator for many products, according to Wood.

“If you are one of a half-dozen products that have feature parity and similar pricing, then a better user experience is a competitive advantage,” he notes. “How quickly can your customers get to active use of the product? How well does the product meet the user’s goals? Doing these things well requires a deep understanding of the customer and the ability to turn those insights into working designs, which is what a good UX team delivers.”

A growing network

When Wood got into this space about 20 years ago, he knew everyone working in UX in Ireland at the time, or at least knew of them.

“These days every conference or meet-up has hundreds of attendees and there is new talent joining the industry all the time,” he says. “The quality of the talent in Ireland is impressive too – I think there are some truly world-class people working in UX in Ireland today. The colleges have started to produce good graduates from new UX-focussed courses and The UX Design Institute is helping people to switch career or up-skill. More importantly, the tech companies in Ireland are honing that talent through real work on some great products.”

Galway’s only UX agency, The UX Studio, runs UX Network Galway once a month. It has grown from five or ten people attending last year to about 30 every month and a total of 218 members.

“So many people are joining UX Network Galway to see what is happening. A lot of these people are already working as product designers or software developers and want to find out how to convince their employers to invest in UX design,” says Sara Gilligan, Head of Business Development at The UX Studio. “These people are sick of having three to four iterations of their designs because their organisations are not talking to users about functionality and specs.”

Founded two years ago by Rachel O’Donnell, The UX Studio specialises in building digital products or digital interfaces by focusing on both user needs and the business objectives of its clients.

“We ask our clients what they think their challenges are in relation to their business objectives; then we talk to users directly and tell our clients where the real problems lie. It is a new conversation and a big shift in mindset,” says Gilligan.

A major coup for this emerging company has been to work on a human-machine interface project for medtech giant Medtronic, which helped to standardise its workflow and processes. In the clean rooms at its Galway facility, there are multiple machines with different interfaces.

“Having numerous interfaces from different vendors was not intuitive to the users’ needs. This was getting in the way of Medtronic’s two core goals – that of reducing downtime and maintaining quality,” says O’Donnell. “We spoke to operators, engineers, R&D people as well as maintenance staff actually doing the job on a day-to-day basis and defined a set of requirements.”

The team highlighted to Medtronic management that they needed to consider colour blindness, for example, and got around this problem by using icons and words instead of colours. The UX Studio’s proof of concept with Medtronic has led to referrals in the med-tech sector.

UX design started on consumer products and applications, but enterprise UX – such as The UX Studio’s work with Medtronic – is now becoming a niche within the industry, according to Colman Walsh, CEO and founder, The UX Design Institute.

Established in 2013 as UX Training, The UX Design Institute launched its six-month online professional diploma in UX Design last June. It is a globally recognised qualification. So far 577 students have enrolled, 30% of whom are from Ireland.

“Enterprises are realising that employees using B2B software have high expectations and want the applications they use inside the organisation to be as well designed as Google and Facebook,” says Walsh.

Turning Interest Into Action

Part of Professor John FitzGerald’s task as Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council is to explain the issues around climate change to a wider audience. His scariest audience so far has been 6th class pupils at Harold’s Cross National School, he recalls.

“I was there for a photocall and the minister was late so the teacher asked me to talk to the class. Not having anything prepared, I was a bit intimidated at first. The children were so well informed, so engaged and so knowledgeable.”

Young people such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who inspired school strikes worldwide against global warming have captured the public’s imagination in recent months. In Ireland, young people took part in the Extinction Rebellion protest in Dublin on Good Friday and school children feature regularly on news reports for their efforts to make society more environmentally aware.

“As the problems of climate change will steadily grow over the coming century they are likely to be more serious for our children, and even more serious for our grandchildren, than they are for us. Thus it is really important to listen to the views of the younger generation who will be most affected,” says FitzGerald.

“Unfortunately, younger people are less likely to vote than the grey electorate, so their voice is muted in the political system in the developed world. For this reason it is very important that they are both encouraged to make their voice heard and that they actually do so by participating actively in political life,” he said. “Protests can play an important role in highlighting issues but real change needs the engagement of the political process. It is right that children be educated about the science of climate change and also about the civic society in which they are growing up. However, carrying political campaigns into schools is not appropriate.”

An independent statutory body established under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, the Climate Change Advisory Council’s role is to review national climate policy and advise government on how Ireland can move to a low carbon, climate resilient economy and society by 2050.

Its latest annual review, published last July, stated that Ireland is not on track to meet its 2020 or 2030 targets, or to decarbonise its economy by 2050.

“Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions increased again in 2016, with the projections to 2035 showing that we are completely off course in addressing the challenge of climate change,” FitzGerald said at the launch of the review

Frustrated that there has been very little development of climate change policy since the council started,
FitzGerald sees the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action report published at the end of March as a significant step forward.

“The fact that five parties agreed on a carbon tax gives reasonable assurance that this key measure will be implemented in this Dáil and the next,” he says. “The balanced summary on agriculture was also helpful, emphasising land use issues and diversification. The proposal on a carbon-budget approach to managing our future emissions sounds sensible.”

The report calls for new legislation which will set ambitious climate and renewable electricity targets, and which will require five-year carbon budgets to be devised.

In reaction to this, FitzGerald says: “I don’t think there is time for this Dáil to legislate and with any new Dáil it can take a year before it is fully up and running with new legislation. Thus I think the issues that require legislative change will be for a future Climate Change Action Council – our remit runs out at the beginning of 2021.”

An adjunct professor in Economics at Trinity College Dublin and former research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, FitzGerald is currently also a member of the Commission of the Central Bank of Ireland.

“One of the things I’ve learned after 40 years is that as an economist your research influences outcomes once in every three or four times. One of my disappointments has been that I have published about 20 papers since 1991 on the need for a carbon tax if we want to take climate change seriously. I have been like a broken record on how important it is to get the price of carbon tax right,” he says.

Autonomous Acceleration

Ireland is keen to position itself as a hub for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies and to share in a global market predicted to be worth €70bn by 2035. According to John McCarthy, Leader, Intelligent Mobility at Arup, around 100,000 new jobs could be created in Ireland in direct and indirect services for CAVs by 2030. Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment.

First up, McCarthy points out that connected and autonomous vehicles are not one and the same thing. “They’re two completely different markets that touch upon each other quite strongly,” he says.

Likewise, he believes we will soon see the creation of environments where people, organisations and service providers – such as parking bays and charging points – will all support a user-centric system to service these technologies.

Fully autonomous vehicles, meanwhile, will be driverless, with no steering wheel or driving controls, and capable of making decisions without any human intervention.

CAV Ireland

To focus on the opportunities presented by these changes, Enterprise Ireland (EI), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), ITS Ireland and the Department of Transport established a connected and autonomous vehicle forum – CAV Ireland – in early 2017.

“Over the past two years there has been much activity with the group in terms of understanding Ireland’s value proposition and capability as well as identifying opportunities,” says Ita Lynn, Project Manager in IDA Ireland’s engineering and industrial division. “We have invited thought leaders and representatives from academia, industry and government to really understand where we currently are but, more importantly, what our strategy is going forward.”

Lynn notes that the technology-intensive aspect of autonomous vehicles has attracted many tech companies that see a role for their own core competencies. These include Alphabet/Google self-driving car spin-off Waymo, as well as Apple, Microsoft, Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm. All of these players are investing in developing powerful microprocessors to allow them to meet artificial intelligence (AI) and data requirements.

Meanwhile, fleet operators, including rideshare and logistics companies such as Uber, Lyft and Didi, are also investing huge amounts in self-driving car operations.

Lynn believes that Ireland is well positioned to capture a share of this investment given its leading position in software, engineering and ICT research. She also points out that while Ireland has been a well established location for automotive suppliers, it is now also attracting leading car manufacturing companies such as Jaguar Land Rover and General Motors, both of which have recently set up software operations here.

Last year, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to establish a new software engineering centre in Shannon (see panel). General Motors, which opened a logistics and tech support division in Limerick in 2013, has gone on to add an IT centre there responsible for developing its next generation of connected solutions for vehicle programmes including OnStar and Urban Active.

While other large FDI companies including IBM, Analog Devices, Cisco and Dell EMC are also investing in this space in Ireland, indigenous players are also making their mark. These include camera sensor developer Movidius, bought by Intel in 2016 for a reported €300m; internet-of things company Cubic Telecom, which provides location-based services to automotive OEMs; Arralis, a leader in radar and wireless communications; high tech antenna developer Taoglas; and Mergon International, which custom designs and manufactures automotive components.

Third-level response

Irish research facilities – including national software centre Lero in the University of Limerick and data analytics centre Insight – are helping to advance the sector through innovative work in ICT, internet of things, AI and software development.

At the same time, the academic sector is responding to a growing need for skills in AI and deep learning. For example, an online/part-time MEng in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles was launched by Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo in September 2018 with an initial cohort of 21 students.

According to Shane Gilroy, Programme Chair and Lecturer in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles at IT Sligo, the curriculum for the master’s was originally developed by a group of German automotive manufacturers and suppliers led by BMW, Continental AG and Kempten University of Applied Sciences. Its objective was to improve the competitiveness of the German automotive industry in the design of driver assistance systems.

“IT Sligo has expanded this curriculum with the help of a steering group of the automotive industry in Ireland such as Valeo, Jaguar Land Rover, Analog Devices and Xperi to develop the skills necessary for the design of connected and autonomous vehicles,” he says.

Cluster group

Sharing of information also plays an important role in driving the sector. For example, Vehicle of the Future (VOTF) is a cluster group co-ordinated by EI that aims to encourage collaboration in connected, autonomous, shared and electric technologies.

“A number of SMEs and smaller indigenous companies saw the need to connect with each other to find out what each of them does,” says Ann O’Connell, Senior EU Programme Manager at Irish Manufacturing Research.

When the group held its first meeting two years ago at Mergon’s facility in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, 25 companies were in attendance. Over 90 companies attended the fourth meeting in February. “This clearly demonstrates the interest and industry engagement in the connected mobility sector,” says O’Connell.

Gilroy also sees the growing attendance at CAV Ireland and VOFT meetings as a sign of the rapid rate of growth in the industry in Ireland over the past few years. “These networking groups have provided a catalyst for all companies and research partners in Ireland to form mutually beneficial partnerships to overcome new challenges in the field,” he says.

Testing on Irish roads

Last October, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross announced that his department was working with industry stakeholders, other government departments and State agencies on guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads.

“These will be supported by a National Connected and Autonomous Vehicle roadmap and plan as well as a national
strategy for Intelligent Transport Systems generally,” he said. “Public confidence in autonomous vehicles must be fostered.”

“The facilities that Ireland has to offer in terms of education, research, climate and a highly skilled workforce have the potential for the country to become a significant player worldwide in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles,” says Gilroy. “The final piece of securing Ireland’s place in this new automotive revolution will come with the passing of government legislation to allow the full testing of connected and autonomous vehicles on specially designated sections of Ireland’s road network.”

Kinzen Co-Founder Talks Real News

Áine Kerr started her a career as a political correspondent writing for national papers before becoming head of content and then managing editor at Storyful. Up until 2017 she led global journalism partnerships at Facebook in New York.

Kerr’s dedication to improving how we consume news led her organically to her next venture as co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Kinzen, a start-up developing solutions to control your news experience. Along with her co-founders Paul Watson and Storyful founder and former Twitter Ireland boss Mark Little, Kerr sought to create a news experience that the user can control and tailor to suit their needs and tastes – a personalised, authentic experience amid an era of misinformation, mistrust and fake news.

The trio have been in research and development mode since October 2017 and the first version of the
Kinzen ios app was released in early February. In building the app, Kerr and her two co-founders looked long and hard at the trends in the market and research surrounding news consumption, recognising that “a correction was coming”.

“The future is personal. There is this move away from social and people want to take back that sense of control. That is why we built the ios app experience,” she explains.

Personalisation with a purpose

Kinzen’s community editor, along with a huge group of curators, built a source directory of trustworthy, authentic sources on the internet. The app pulls content based on your interests, your location and your profession, all chosen and specified by you the user. You can set up channels that are personalised to you, with the power to exclude or promote particular sources and topics.

You are also able to tailor your experience based on the time of the day you open the app, because
as Kerr so accurately puts it, “what you’re interested in in the morning is very different to what you’re interested in in the evening.”

“In the morning I can say, I’ve got a 20 minute walk to work, just give me enough content for that
20 minute window,” Kerr explains. This function provides users with a daily routine that is “personalised, meaningful and localised.”

The Kinzen app is available on a free basic membership or on a premium membership, costing
€4.99 a month.

“An important principle for us from the get-go, at a time when so much content is disappearing behind pay walls, was to make sure that there was a free experience at Kinzen,” Kerr explains.

That said, according to Kerr, there is a Netflix generation who have become sensitised to paying for news and are willing to pay for a service that will stop “the endless scroll” and provide some routine.

“Some will make comparisons to other news apps but we very much consider ourselves, first and foremost, a technology company that’s helping citizens engage with publishers who produce quality content,” says Kerr. “We absolutely believe that our differentiator is personalisation with a purpose.”

Community spirit

To keep things interesting and allow users to feel they are “being challenged, being empowered to
see other content, and becoming more informed about the world around them”, Kinzen has created a community, with dozens of channels ready for users to explore – the idea being that you can subscribe to other users’ channels.

“On the one hand you are personalising according to you, but on the other hand you’re going to broaden your mind, you’re going to be challenged and you’re going to see new sources,” she says.

Kerr believes this function sets Kinzen apart from others in the market.

Plug and play

While the ios app will continue to evolve every month, Kinzen’s second product, a personalised newsletter for publishers, is due to launch at the end of April. Reluctant to give too much away, Kerr says: “We are talking to a lot of international, national and local players in the market and this is definitely something that is resonating with publishers at the moment.”

The newsletter will offer a “plug and play” service to publishers. “We build them a beautiful personalised
newsletter according to their particular needs, and their logos and how they want it to look and feel, then they plug it in and off they go,” Kerr explains.

“Publishers gave up a lot of control to other platforms and distributors over the years. I see this as a way for them to build a personalised experience – one-to-one with their users – and hopefully build deeper engagement and loyalty. And, if the publisher wants to convert them to a member or a subscriber, this will be a good gateway to do it,” Kerr highlights.

Coming from journalism backgrounds, this is an exciting service for both Kerr and her co-founder Little.

“We want to do something that is going to help the industry at a time of massive losses in revenue. We hope in the months to come as people check back on our website, you will start to see some big name partners that we’re working with,” she teases.

Going the distance

Kerr is proud of having “built a community from the ground up”. She describes the Kinzen community as “incentivised”.

“There’s a recognition with the people who have come to us so far of, ‘this is broken’, and they want to play a part in fixing it. There’s this mantra in platforms of ‘move fast and break things’ and we very much have taken the opposite which is ‘let’s move slow and build things’,” she adds. “We’re in this for the long run. We’ve a global ambition to really help people take back control.”

Gillian Horan: The Inside Story

by Gillian Horan, The Pudding Brand

The availability of talent is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses in Ireland and internationally. To attract the best, you need a strong employer brand. If they don’t know what it’s like to work for your company, you risk losing valuable candidates to other employers.

Companies such as Workday know this. It has featured on the Great Place to Work list for the past five years and this year was the second time it achieved the top spot. Last year’s winner, AbbVie, was ranked second, followed by Salesforce, Version 1 and HubSpot.

All of these organisations have strong employer brands. It is vital for businesses to invest in employer branding, particularly if they are growing globally or hiring from a younger demographic.

Professionals under the age of 40 are 61% more likely to consider employer brand when it comes to job opportunities. Research shows that half of candidates won’t consider working for a company with a bad employer brand, regardless of salary. With millennials due to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, investment in employer branding is now more important than ever before.

So, what do brands need to do to attract the right talent? You must be relevant to your candidates before they even consider working for you. To do this, you will need an employer brand strategy and an employer value proposition (EVP) to take top talent off the market.

Simply put, your EVP should address the following:

• Why should someone come and work for your company?
• Why should they choose your company over any other?
• Apart from financial benefits, what can you offer?

Look at ways to differentiate the employee experience you offer and get your current employees on board to establish if and why your business is such a great place to work. They can also validate your EVP to ensure it’s realistic. Your employer brand strategy must be implemented internally by:

• introducing career development initiatives;
• creating a training and coaching culture;
• communicating your employer brand internally and externally;
• introducing a careers website to tell everyone about why your company is the place to work.

The mistake companies sometimes make with regard to their employer brand is failing to define a clear value proposition that is genuinely attractive for talent. It needs to be authentic. You need to be able to live and breathe it, so it is not just about values written on a wall. And it needs to be on the agenda at board level. Attracting, recruiting and retaining talent is costly and if it is not centred around the EVP, the process can become even more costly.

If you have a strong, clear message, you will be more likely to attract the right audience quickly. Your recruitment costs will drop, because you are not sifting through hundreds of CVs or interviewing the wrong type of candidate. Best of all, your new hires will already have started to onboard long before they accept a new position.

It is critical to involve your executive team in defining your EVP and don’t be afraid to go companywide. Profile your team on the online career page; video them. Give potential candidates an insight into your employer brand, before they ever set foot in your office.


Transformation in Action

Chamber Partner profile

by Karen Ferris, Ervia

Ireland’s second largest semi-State body, Ervia is focussed on safeguarding and upgrading key national infrastructure to meet the challenges of a growing population and support Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Responsible for operating the nation’s vital water and gas networks through its regulated businesses Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland, it also provides dark fibre broadband infrastructure through Aurora Telecom.

Ervia is overseeing one of the most significant programmes of capital delivery in the State as it continues to invest significantly in a number of large-scale infrastructure projects across the country.

By 2021, Ervia is predicted to represent about 20% of all construction activity in the State. Based on a recent report compiled by EY-DKM, the company spent €1.45bn in the Irish economy, supported 26,000 jobs and added €2bn to Ireland’s GDP in 2017 alone.

The scale of Ervia is clear when you consider that Irish Water provides water and wastewater treatment to over 1.5 million households and 200,000 businesses daily, with demand expected
to increase to a further 555,000 households between now and 2040. Gas Networks Ireland equally supplies around 700,000 customers with natural gas and is also an important component of our electricity system.

Gas-fired power stations provide a secure and flexible low-carbon back-up to the high levels of renewable energy integrated on the National Grid. This has included keeping the system going during a 10-day period in June 2018 when wind produced less than 5% of electricity demand.

The gas network also has tremendous potential to play a pivotal and game-changing role in transforming Ireland to a low-carbon economy by 2050. Ervia is investing in a series of grid injection points to increase the level of renewable gas in the network with a target of 20% by 2030.

Momentum in delivery

The positive impact of Irish Water’s investment in water and wastewater systems is already being felt by communities right across the country. Over €800m was spent in 2018 on new and upgraded water infrastructure to support economic growth and development through a number of critical projects to protect health and quality of life and directly improve the environment.

This was highlighted by the completion of a new link pipeline in Co Wicklow earlier this year, on time and on budget, which was part of a €200m investment in the Vartry Water Supply Scheme Project. The supply area stretches through North Wicklow to Dublin, and serves more than 200,000 people. The tunnel was at critical risk of collapse since the mid- 1990s. The investment removes this risk and provides a safer, more secure water supply to the people of Wicklow and Dublin.

Other key projects included the commencement of works on an €80m upgrade to the Ringsend plant and the rehabilitation of 135km of water pipes and the repair of over 5,700 leaks as part of a €500m spend on Irish Water’s ‘Leakage Reduction Programme’.

While there are significant challenges ahead, it’s important to reflect on the progress achieved and the momentum in delivery, particularly with critical projects ahead including the Greater Dublin Drainage scheme and the Water Supply Project.

Transforming our energy landscape

Looking ahead, Ervia is actively progressing a number of ambitious, innovative solutions to facilitate the significant transformation required to our energy network. Ervia has a key role to play in decarbonising Ireland, in particular the electricity, domestic heating and transport sectors. Imperative to achieving these CO2 reductions for Ireland are solutions such as carbon-free biomethane for heat and transport, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and hydrogen.

Ervia is committed to supporting geo-engineering projects that can significantly reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions including assessing the potential for large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the near-depleted Kinsale gas field off the coast of Cork. Ervia has highlighted the potential for the gas network to reduce Ireland’s emissions by at least 15 million tonnes of CO2 per annum by 2050 as part of its submission to Ireland’s Draft National Energy & Climate Plan (NECP) 2021-2030.

In terms of security of supply in 2018, Gas Networks Ireland successfully completed commissioning the Cluden to Brighouse Bay pipeline in Scotland, resulting in full twinning of our two gas interconnectors between Ireland and the UK. This is crucial for Ireland in reinforcing security of energy supply for the island and supporting decarbonisation. It involved constructing a new 50km high pressure gas pipeline, which feeds two subsea pipelines between Ireland and the UK.

Project Ireland 2040

A key partner to Government in the rollout of Project Ireland 2040 and the transition to a low-carbon economy, Ervia is making significant progress in its investment plans for critical infrastructure to support Ireland’s ongoing economic development.

As well as being committed to the transformation necessary to ensure safe and reliable water infrastructure supporting development as the population grows, it is investing in its national dark fibre network to establish a return path between Cork and Dublin. In addition, it is actively supporting a combination of ambitious actions across a range of sectors to enable Ireland to significantly reduce its emissions targets and meet its climate targets.

Our national gas and water networks support the social and economic development of Ireland and are playing strategic roles in the transition of Ireland to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy by 2050.

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