CEO 100

Takeaways from the CEO 100 Index launch webinar – themed ‘Leading the Way: New Era, No Limits’

By Business & Finance
07 April 2022

On April 5th, 2022, the annual CEO 100 Index was launched here on Business & Finance, in association with KPMG. A special webinar was broadcast simultaneously to celebrate the launch. 

Crisis can breed instability. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, CEOs and C-Suite leaders not only have to steer companies to profitability, as is expected, but also must display keen and empathetic leadership as their team navigates an uncertain business climate.

As such, leadership standards have expanded. The CEO 100 Index, brought to you by Business & Finance, in association with KPMG, celebrates and honours the CEOs who are driving excellence and serving as exemplary models at a time of disruption.

The CEO 100 launch event – a webinar themed ‘Leading the Way: New Era, No Limits’ – featured contributions from:

  • Lorna Conn, CEO of CPL
  • Devan Hughes, CEO & Co-Founder, Buymie
  • Danny McCoy, CEO, Ibec

Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor at Business & Finance, opened and closed proceedings with an address to attendees, and moderated the conversation throughout.

The CEO 100 Index launch webinar – themed ‘Leading the Way: New Era, No Limits’ – is available to watch on demand here.

Below are takeaways from the event.

Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor at Business & Finance, opened proceedings by noting the webinar was broadcast from the studios in KPMG’s new Innovation Centre, Platform X, which has opened in recent months.

Ms. Freeman then turned to the question of how CEOs are adapting to continued upheaval, citing the pandemic which was followed swiftly by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – creating a tragic humanitarian crisis and of course uncertainty for business.

Devan Hughes, CEO & Co-Founder, Buymie, said in response that businesses have become more agile, leaders have become far more tactical, and have developed the ability to react and react quickly. He said that Buymie is half-Irish, half-Armenian – its co-founder is Armenian and it has offices in Armenia. Many of its employees have ties to Russia and Ukraine. “It has been quite close to home, to our business,” stated Mr. Hughes.

The probability of a recession is coming much closer to the globe right now

Ms. Freeman asked Lorna Conn, CEO of CPL, how she thinks Irish businesses have adapted to the almost constantly changing landscape over the last two years with a transition from office to hybrid and an ever-increasing reliance on digitalisation.  Ms. Conn replied: “Two years ago, we all went home thinking we were going to be working from home for two weeks … I think companies have performed well and really it is incumbent on us now to take all of the positives from the past two years and make sure that we hold on to them tightly as we move past the pandemic.”

Ms. Freeman then spoke to Danny McCoy, CEO, Ibec, who discussed inflation and its potential impact on business. He said: “Given that society is permeating into business in so many ways, it will be interesting to see what differential will come with inflation, because inflation will have winners and losers. It will be interesting to see if that changes behaviour inside organisations.”


Ms. Freeman asked the panellists what they would point to as the key factors to success.

Mr. Hughes stated that timing is the most important element of success. He said: “The most important thing for any leader is to read the market and think about the macro impact that it might have on their business, and think about what they can do at that time and that moment that’s going to have the most impact on not just their business, but their people and their customers.”

Mr. McCoy discussed the possibility of recession: “The probability of a recession is coming much closer to the globe right now, because in order to squeeze out inflation, they’ll have to take down the level of economic activity, and it’s very hards to get it precise … There may be a possibility of shrinking your way to greatness as opposed to growing your way to greatness. I think leaders need to put that in their sights right now – going back might be the best strategy.”

Ms. Conn spoke about how organisations are working hard to secure the right kind of talent: “It’s not only about attracting new talent, but it’s also about retaining the key talent that they have in their organisation because it’s a very tight labour market, there’s a lot of opportunities sectorally for all candidates and employees within the Irish economy.”

The Great Resignation

Ms. Freeman spoke about the significant challenge of talent attraction and retention, and wondered what companies are doing to address that.

Ms. Conn replied by saying that what is absolutely critical is that organisations purposefully design their people value propositions (PVP). A well-designed PVP, she noted, will be a multidimensional approach to the value an organisation will create, encompassing the mission of the company, how the company enhances well-being of employees and what their remote working practices are, how they contribute to their local communities, and how an organisation enables an employee to grow.

It’s not just society permeating into business. Business needs to direct back … into society

Mr. Hughes emphasised communication, collaboration, thinking tactically, acting strategically, and engendering trust in each other, the stakeholders, and the customers. He emphasised that Buymie looks for missionaries, no mercenaries, and he says that to everyone who interviews with them.

Mr. McCoy discussed the intersection of business and society at large: “There’s plenty of money out there,” he said. “There’s plenty of mortgage approvals … What there isn’t is the hard stuff – the house, the health, the education. Galvanising around the societal piece and getting that conversation going, it’s not just society permeating into business. Business needs to direct back … into society.”

The CEO 100 Index launch webinar – themed ‘Leading the Way: New Era, No Limits’ – is available to watch on demand here.