“My philosophy has always been to run a people centric business and I put people at the centre of the organisation as the businesses’ highest priority.” — CEO Q&A with Robert Dix from Sopal

CEO Q&A, Interviews, Thought Leadership | Tue 29 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
PictureD (Left to Right): Robert Dix, Managing Director, Sopal and former Managing Partner Shaun Murphy, KPMG

Robert Dix is an expert in M&A activity and IPO’s having spent 20 years as a partner in KPMG along with extensive experience doing national and international business. Robert is currently the managing director of Sopal Limited which was founded in 2009 and is based in Dublin.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
The main priorities and goals in my role of managing the company is medium and long-term profitable growth for the consultancy business.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?
The biggest challenges for us, and every business, is a shortage of talent. Inflation is also a challenge for all businesses at the moment.

How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?
My philosophy has always been to run a people centric business and I put people at the centre of the organisation as the businesses’ highest priority. I find that’s the number one way of keeping the team motivated and engaged.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?
I work in a number of business areas, including the hospitality and construction industries. There are lots of challenges for them going forward. Much of my work is confidential, but it’s fair to say that one of the main challenges with all businesses, is the risk to growth due to lack of human resources.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?
For me as a consultant, I am finding that advice on attracting staff is top. There is also an issue with middle management burn out. Navigating this new business landscape is top of most companies’ agenda. We also specialise in management in conflict situations, and we have definitely seen a considerable demand for our business skills and advice in this area since the pandemic.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
Always being able to adapt and be agile in terms of spotting the constantly changing requirements of the industry you are working in is important. This is an area that we, at Sopal, excel in.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?
Yes, there are plenty of gaps in the market.  There’s a shortage of talent.  Experience is really necessary for our consultancy business and that mostly comes with years working in business. Making one’s organisation more attractive than another business, and that’s not just about salary, wins the talent war.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?
Those crises are long gone, but the current one is that, with the ending of the pandemic, finding the right employment model to suit the new norm is challenging.

How has Brexit affected you?
Brexit hasn’t really affected our business. Ireland has a great advantage in that we can operate freely in the UK without limitation.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?
The huge amount of stress and burn out amongst middle management and remote working is where we have been called to advise on in recent times. This is completely down to the stresses caused by the pandemic.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Happy, motivated and contented workforce, plus satisfied clients are how we define success and striving to achieve this is my daily goal. This will result in profitable growth, however I don’t define success by profits.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Be straight with people and always speak the truth is the best advice I can give and it is how I run my business.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
It’s been successfully assisting a number of businesses who were badly affected by the pandemic to navigate the challenges and to survive the tough times.

What’s next for your company?
More of the same! Continued growth by sticking to my core values and beliefs in running a people centric business.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Continued recognition for the hard-earned business reputation that I have built up over the years and of course continued business growth for Sopal’s consultancy business.

More CEO Q&As can be found here.