CEO Q&A: Brendan Mooney

Business, Editor's Choice, Interviews | Wed 4 Jan | Author – Business & Finance brendan mooney kainos
Kainos chief Brendan Mooney

Brendan Mooney, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, speaks to Deanna O’Connor about his ethos in business.


Q. What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

I have been employed in the technology sector for 27 years and I’ve never seen the level nor the speed of change in the industry we are witnessing today. In this dynamic environment, some companies will thrive and others will struggle; but while some will fail, my overwhelming sense is one of opportunity.

In some ways, the challenge will be grasping that opportunity and making the most of it. In terms of the other challenges in our environment, for instance, Brexit, US elections, skill shortages – these are just the latest external factors that we will need to overcome.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

In general there is a shortage of technology skills in Ireland. On the one hand this is because of the success of the technology companies based in Ireland – both the indigenous sector and the inward investment companies – and that is a really positive outcome.

On the other hand, there are a limited number of graduates entering the market, despite prolonged demand in the market. I would like to see a significant increase in the number of graduates from all the universities and colleges.

There is a great opportunity for us build truly global companies, but we will need to increase the number of computer, maths and engineering graduates in order to achieve this.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

When the banking crisis started, 70% of our business was in Ireland and the majority focused towards the banking and insurance sectors. Our immediate reaction was to accelerate our UK growth plan to fill the vacuum. While the UK was far from immune to the crisis, London in particular recovered relatively quickly and we were able to weather the turbulence better than many – however at the time, it did not feel like that.

In general there is a shortage of technology skills in Ireland

In parallel with stabilising the business we looked for new, growth opportunities, identifying an opportunity with high-growth US software company, Workday – we implement their software in Europe for clients like Easyjet, Travelex and Tom Tom. At the same time, we also decided to build our own healthcare software product, Evolve, which is now used in 104 hospitals in the UK, and with 28 million patients on the system and managing over 1 billion images, it is making a real difference to patient outcomes.

Last year, these two divisions of Kainos generated €33m in revenue, which is almost twice the revenues of the entire Kainos business back during the crisis.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

To create the best possible working environment for the people in Kainos; to deliver quality, excellent service and value to our customers; and to continue to grow the business, offering our people exciting careers and our shareholders a return on their investment.

There is real alignment between all goals, which makes for a pretty straight-forward ‘day job’.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

It’s a little early to tell if there is going to be an impact to our business. Since June 23th, we have seen an increase in immediate opportunities, but we are maintaining a cautious outlook until it becomes clearer what Brexit will actually mean for our customers and the people working in Kainos.

Businesses operate in near-continual uncertainty now and I don’t think any of us have forgotten the challenge of working through the banking crisis. Brexit, while unexpected, feels a much smaller scale event in comparison.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success to me is about something that we achieve either for the staff in the company, or for our customers, and even better if we are able to do both at the same time.

In terms of my motivation, I’m always keen to see if we can do things better – improve as an employer, improve in delivering to our customers, improve in how we grow the business – just because we are doing these things well today is no reason to stop seeking even further improvement.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

My advice would be to ask for advice. There is little in business that is new or unique to you as an individual, so ask for help.

Somebody, probably in your personal network, will have encountered the same or a very similar problem and either solved it or tried something that didn’t work. So ask for their advice and guidance, listen to the advice and decide if it offers you a solution to the problem.

Q. What’s next for Kainos?

Over the past five years we have grown over 30% per year, and we retain that ambition, to be a high-growth company – so our expectation is that we will double again by 2020.

There is little in business that is new or unique to you as an individual, so ask for help