Pat McCann reflects on Dalata winning ‘Company of the Year’ at the Business & Finance Awards 2019

Business & Finance Awards, Interviews | Mon 17 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Pat McCann, CEO of Dalata, at the Business & Finance Awards 2019.

Dalata was the recipient of the ‘Company of the Year’ award at the Business & Finance Awards 2019. Pat McCann, CEO of Dalata, speaks to Business & Finance about the company’s win, their successful business strategy, and advises other companies to remain true to their strategy in the face of challenges.

The 45th annual Business & Finance Awards, a ceremony that has firmly been established as a staple of the business year, took place on Thursday December 12, 2019 at the Convention Centre, Dublin. 

Among the honourees on the night was Dalata, who took home the prize of ‘Company of the Year.’ 

Pat McCann, CEO of Dalata and President of IBEC, says the win was a big deal for the company, given the prestige of the prize, and the company’s relative youth: “Even though we’ve been around for 12 or 13 years, we’re only in the public markets for the last 5, so for us to get nominated in the first instance, that’s a big deal […] then obviously to go on and win it outright, what it does in the business is it creates a sense of achievement and buzz. 

“It’s really, really good for an organisation like us to get the nod to say, ‘You’re doing something right.’”

“We are very focused on maintaining where we’re at, and how we will take the business through whatever the world throws at us, and as sure as eggs are eggs, there will be something else next year and the year after and the year after, but that’s business, that’s life.”

McCann feels their win stemmed from their implementation of what they call the decentralised model and how they help employees grow to support the model: “We do so much training and development through our Dalata Academy, where we train thousands of people each year, through many, many different programs. When we open our own hotels we have our own internal teams to go in and manage those properties.”

Indeed, winning ‘Company of the Year’ gave Dalata the “stamp of approval,” McCann says, and helped them view their business objectively: “The problem is that when you’re in a business, you’re always looking at it from an inside view, but what do people on the outside think of your business? So of course when you get something like this, it does give you a little bit of a pep in your step to continue on and to actually improve what you’re doing.”

McCann advises businesses to prepare for challenges if they hope to survive: “We’ve always taken the view that everything we do will have a challenge, and it’s about how good you are at meeting those challenges – so whether it’s Brexit or anything like that, what you have to do is make sure that your business is resilient enough in the first place.

Pat McCann, CEO of Dalata

“If it’s not able to withstand things like that, it probably won’t survive. So what we always ask is, how resilient is our business, how can we sustain ourselves, and how can we grow our business? 

“If you take Dalata today, we have 9,200 rooms in operation in 44 hotels, we are building another 10 hotels with almost 2,900 rooms, and they’ll start to open next year. That’ll add another 30% of rooms into the business that we currently have. So for us, when you look at the way we are growing the business, and the way we are planning for the future and expanding our business in a very calculated way means we are very resilient, we have a superb balance sheet, we own assets in the company of 1.4 billion, and that underpins our assets.”

McCann firmly believes in future-proofing for a business and avoiding what he deems to be quick fixes. He encourages people to remain true to their strategy and not overreact to situations that can throw you off course. 

He continues: “We are very focused on maintaining where we’re at, and how we will take the business through whatever the world throws at us, and as sure as eggs are eggs, there will be something else next year and the year after and the year after, but that’s business, that’s life.”

McCann firmly views this win as a team win, not an individual win. “It’s hard to describe the effect it has on our people. We employ 5000 people, and every one of them would have been aware of the company winning this award. It gives them a little bit of comfort as well. 

“It’s like playing on a winning football team. It’s nice to be associated with the winner […] I suppose it’s acknowledgement that we’re a decent, honourable company that will do things well, and will continue to do things well, and that gives people a sense of pride that they’re involved, and it’s amazing as well the number of our customers who would have acknowledged our win. That was quite surprising to me that they would have been aware of that.”

The Business and Finance Awards 2019 were sponsored by KPMG Ireland. Our corporate partners for the event were Enterprise Ireland, HSBC, Ibec, IDA Ireland, Jaguar, and Brightwater Executive.