Business News

CEO Q&A: Joe Aherne, ReganStein

By Business & Finance
31 January 2018
Joe Aherne, CEO, ReganStein

Joe Aherne, CEO of Leading Edge Group, speaks about the need to constantly innovate in today’s changing market, leading to the development of his new company, ReganStein.

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

One of our main priorities in 2018 is to grow Leading Edge business in Canada, specifically in the public health and municipality sectors. Otherwise, our total focus is on launching our new software as a service (SaaS) product CItric Cube and rolling out our new specialist ‘consulting’-type business, ReganStein, in Ireland.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

The biggest challenge is to stay relevant in this ever-changing world caused largely by the impact of technology and changing consumer trends. Leading Edge Group has gone through a series of seismic changes in the past caused by economic recessions and market volatility, so it is essential to constantly innovate and develop solutions that fit our new ways of thinking. That’s where the concept of ReganStein came about. We saw the need to innovate and saw a gap in the market for a fresh approach to business management. ReganStein delivers instant talent solutions that are more convenient and cost-effective than either hiring staff or engaging a consultancy firm on specific tasks or projects.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Empowerment of staff is key to everything we do – our team has to be part of the decision-making process as they know the intricacies of the business far better than I do. Our staff are directly in contact with our customers at all times and this ensures the customer’s perspective is central in our thinking.

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

The continuous improvement consulting space is maturing and therefore we need to start looking at innovation and new ideas in order to continue to grow and prosper such as developing automated solutions like CItric Cube. Equally, the consulting market is being disrupted by new agile players offering solutions in what is called the ‘gig economy’ and we need to be at the vanguard of this with ReganStein.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The management consulting business is changing fast. More and more professionals are looking for work-life balance and are increasingly seeking careers that are not full time, solely working for one client. These people would be even more willing to make this move provided someone could promote their services in the marketplace and that’s where ReganStein comes in.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I believe that the large consulting firms and their expensive fee structures will come under significant pressure in the years ahead. More and more companies are looking for specialist, not generalist help, at affordable rates and delivered by experienced professionals. The market is becoming more demanding from a ‘value-for-money’ perspective and this is great news for the customer.

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

There are skill gaps across the economy at present, from accounting to marketing and sales. My advice as much as possible,

is to invest in your employees and continually support their development and growth as part of a company’s talent strategy. However, there are also times when we would need to look outside for expert experienced help to fill gaps for specific projects.

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

Luckily, we already had funds in place for the rainy day so we were able to maintain our financial security throughout the recession. The economic crisis did highlight the dangers associated with relying on a domestic market alone and therefore we expanded our business in Canada with considerable success.

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

Brexit has had little impact as we don’t export our services to the UK. However, we are hopeful that we can offer our services and solutions to companies moving to Ireland post Brexit.

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

I would define success as achieving one’s core goals and objectives in an honest and principled fashion. I have a passion to continue to build an international sustainable business that delivers real results to our clients through the continuing adoption of innovative and creative thinking.

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

Continue to educate and upskill yourself in an ever-changing and complex world. Completion of the postgrad in International Selling in DIT gave me the added impetus and drive in 2017 to continue to pursue my dreams.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

The creation of a new business segment in Canada in the municipality sector from ground zero was a great achievement by John and his Canadian staff. Personally, the development of a new three-year growth strategy was the most exciting activity of the year. Setting up ReganStein has been another great milestone.

Q. What’s next for the company?

The company has a target to reach €5 million turnover by end of 2020. In order to achieve this target, we need to show a 30% increase in turnover in 2018 through our new products/solutions. We need to invest heavily in marketing and be creative in our sales strategies and sales deployment.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

ReganStein has a significant opportunity to take advantage of the uberisation of the global marketplace and offer expertise to the Irish SME and multinational sector, on tap, at competitive prices whether our clients seek support in strategy, sales, digital marketing, IT, etc.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

I would like to see ReganStein recognised as a ‘game changer’ and major disruptor in this country for the immediate supply of affordable middle- and senior-management specialists to manage specific projects and tasks.

I would define success as achieving one’s core goals and objectives in an honest and principled fashion. I have a passion to continue to build an international sustainable business that delivers real results to our clients through the continuing adoption of innovative and creative thinking.

ReganStein offers a fresh approach to managing projects and tasks through its diverse team of highly-skilled and experienced business specialists.

Leading Edge Group is a global leader in continuous improvement consultancy and corporate training and education. Established in Cork, Ireland in 1995, Leading Edge Group has continued to grow and expand for the past two decades and now has operations in Canada, Australia and the Middle East.