“The harder you work, the luckier you become” – CEO Q&A with Brid O’Connell of Guaranteed Irish

By Business & Finance
20 October 2021

Pictured: Brid O’Connell, CEO, Guaranteed Irish 

Brid O’Connell is CEO of Guaranteed Irish. The organisation has just launched the Guaranteed Irish Business Awards 2022, proudly supported by Permanent TSB that will celebrate businesses that ‘support local, look global’.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role? 

To position Guaranteed Irish as a national brand, ensuring diversity and inclusivity. Through the recently launched Guaranteed Irish Business Awards with Permanent TSB, we hope to reward those businesses who have engaged and that ‘support local while looking global’- the theme of these awards in March 2022.  

What are your biggest challenges as CEO? 

Recruitment is an ongoing challenge, and a huge issue that’s now faced by many sectors here. 

How do you keep your team/staff motivated? 

By giving everyone autonomy, respect and trust to do their own job. The ‘Guaranteed Irish’ brand has a real sense of purpose and people enjoy working in this environment. 

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward? 

The recruitment of team members and retention is now a major issue for many businesses. Getting full teams back into the office is going to be a challenge, likewise the hybrid model is a complex offering and needs to be thought-out thoroughly by businesses.

What new trends are emerging in your industry? 

The desire to work remotely is a trend that is here to stay. Businesses need to invest in the systems and structures for making this work. 

Sustainability is the buzz word now, however businesses must endeavour to ensure their efforts are authentic and that it does not become a greenwashing exercise. Guaranteed Irish is the only authentic mark of Trust and Provenance so if a company is committed to true sustainability, I would encourage them to get in touch with us.

Are there any major changes you would like to see across the Irish business landscape? 

I think there is a need to consider the sense of purpose in every business. It’s important to make a profit, but it’s also important to ‘give back’ to the community in which you are based. We need to do business with each other and support shorter supply chains, and that means shopping local and Irish. Now is the time for Guaranteed Irish values to be adopted by all businesses in Ireland who are genuinely committed to Ireland. 

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market? 

Yes, across all areas. Most of our members are struggling to find talent. For example, we need to look seriously at the construction skills shortage and introduce a new, exciting ‘construction professional’ career path where you can climb the entrepreneurial ladder.

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

We have always been an organisation that’s recognised for ‘trust’, and when a country is in crisis, people often turn to companies and brands that they trust. The last 18 months have been beneficial to Guaranteed Irish with consumers choosing companies and organisations that are trusted, wholesome and real. 

How has Brexit affected you? 

Our members have been affected in terms of supply, logistics and costs; and everyone is hoping this will settle. However, there are opportunities for Irish businesses and we’re assisting our members by introducing them to new homegrown and other international opportunities. We’re launching GI Global in 2022- so watch this space.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector? 

Guaranteed Irish as a brand has been inundated with applications throughout the pandemic. People want to buy Irish and support local. Membership to Guaranteed Irish is back in vogue… and here to stay this time.

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

To be the best, and to give everything 100% commitment. 

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

The harder you work, the luckier you become.

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

Bringing new energy to the Guaranteed Irish brand and growing our membership base significantly. Guaranteed Irish is now an internationally recognised symbol of ‘trust’ and all that is good about Ireland. The Board of Directors, Appraisals team and staff behind the brand are committed – that is what makes the difference.

What’s next for your company? 

Our inaugural awards event will shine a light on businesses operating in Ireland who are simply best in class, supporting local while looking Global. I’m looking forward to the March event, which I’m hoping will become the first year of many. Entries are open now for members

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

For Guaranteed Irish to be a household name. For the Guaranteed Irish symbol to be growing in awareness with international buyers, and for it to be the leading brand of trust, a symbol that represents all that is good about Ireland. 

The Guaranteed Irish Business Awards, proudly supported by Permanent TSB, are now open for entries at Entries close on 5th November 2021.