A meeting of minds

Business | Sat 15 Jun | Author – Business & Finance

In just three years the LIBS has gone from a small society who held meetings in the chairman’s living-room to a network of over 3,000 Irish professionals who reflect the best and brightest living and working in London today.

The London Irish Business Society (LIBS) is a network created in early 2010 in London to capitalise on the vast numbers of young Irish professionals settling in London. From very humble beginnings, a group of connected Irish individuals felt that there were many others in similar positions to themselves and set up the society to create a forum and bring Irish professionals together to share ideas.“Originally we started in a living-room and talked about the world-renowned Irish business personalities; then we thought ‘why not get them to come speak at some events?” tells Darren Glynn, LIBS Chairman. With the inaugural event – a panel on the merits of NAMA – featuring some high-profile speakers, including the then leader of the opposition, Fine Gael TD Enda Kenny, LIBS became an instant success. Within six weeks of forming, LIBS filled an auditorium in one of London’s top venues, obtained a highly respectable panel of experts, and made headlines in both national and international media outlets. Clearly there was a huge demand from the pool of Irish talent wanting to network, meet and support one another.

A force to be reckoned with

Now three years on, LIBS has become one of the foremost business network in London for Irish professionals, and organises numerous events on a wide range of topics with one common theme: the success of Irish business. The rapid growth in the LIBS’s membership base to over 3,000 Irish professionals reflects this success.

“What strikes me is the quality of the membership base,” says Glynn, “we constantly have new members joining, and our only problem is securing venues big enough to host everybody”.  Lawyers, bankers, consultants, doctors, business men and women, they all come out in force to each and every event.

“There seems to be a buzz at every event,” claims Jill Tully, a LIBS Board member.  “The vast majority of events are based around the positive contribution to London that the Irish bring, and also the opportunities in the city for Irish business people to succeed.”

While emigration, as in the 1980s, has again claimed some of Ireland’s best and brightest, it appears that we, as a population, continue to make a mark wherever we go.

According to Jill Tully, the LIBS has certainly seen the benefit. “There is no end to the amount of top companies seeking to support us, we frequently host events in some of the top companies in London, and we’ve also had a steady flow of sponsorship,” Tully explains.

The success of LIBS appears to reflect the willingness to support Irish business in the capital. Now with a good track record, the LIBS can rely on senior Irish business figures in the city to provide the support they need, and rarely does a request for a venue, press attendance or sponsorship go unheeded.

Shared ideas and experiences

The society has evolved as it has grown. Events have branched out to include a series of discussion evenings with senior Irish figures, with Willie Walsh, Peter Sutherland and Conor O’Shea amongst those that have already featured. 2012 saw the inaugural LIBS Gala Ball with over 400 Irish professionals attending the event at London’s Hilton Hotel on Park Lane. “The Irish have a lot to be proud of, we have a strong history in London and we not afraid to hold our heads up high,” says LIBS member Tony McDonnell.

Such events have allowed members to share and engage in debates with key business leaders, and keep up-to-date with numerous economic and political issues that impact on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Many members also enjoy the opportunity to meet with peers that have gained experience in similar industries to their own. This has proven to be an invaluable opportunity to benchmark their own career progress, and create connections with individuals following similar paths.

Take Howard Kingston, of Future Ad Labs, an ad tech start-up in the niche new industry of native advertising. Kingston is an example of what LIBS represents – a successful Irish entrepreneur in London. His start-up company based in London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ has attracted over £500,000 from some of Europe’s top venture capitalists after coming through a start-up accelerator programme.

Attending a recent LIBS Event titled ‘Ireland – the New Tech Capital of Europe’ Kingston explains that the room was filled with budding entrepreneurs, keen to learn from one another and promote their enterprises.  “Networking is vital in this day and age and in order to be successful you must be known, and that is exactly what I intend to be.”
Certainly not shy or lacking in confidence, Kingston is perhaps just one example of the upcoming success stories coming out of the Irish in London.

For more information on the LIBS please contact info@li-bs.co.uk or visit their website.