Business News

The sky is the limit

By Business & Finance
17 November 2016
jd buckley sky ceo
JD Buckley, CEO, Sky Ireland

JD Buckley talks team players and lofty goals at Sky Ireland.

While Sky has been operating in Ireland since the 1980s, it is only since the 2012  decision to focus heavily on the Irish market and bring in broadband services, that things have been taken up a notch, with JD Buckley appointed to lead the charge.

With a €1bn five-year investment plan laid down, he was lured back to the boardroom after four years operating as an independent telecoms business consultant.

He had in this time taken on some interim roles, including interim COO of the UK’s largest printing franchise, Prontaprint & Kall Kwik 450-store retail networks.

Buckley had previously spent five years with Digicel as CEO over the Caribbean nations. Asked to describe his leadership style, he says, “Authentic, optimistic, energetic and comfortable asking the tough questions.”

At the start of this year Nielsen figures gave about 700,000 homes in Ireland with Sky boxes – Buckley’s aim for this year was to have 400,000 of those signed up to the broadband deal by the end of this year. One of the top three advertisers in the country, they spend over €10m a year on brand marketing.


For Buckley, the key to success is the team around him. Their synergy is, he says, “Absolutely crucial. They are a great bunch of people who believe in what we are doing at Sky Ireland.” The drive they display is a big part of this, as it appears they are a team in quite the sporting sense, with a hunger to achieve. He underlines, “They’re ultra-competitive yet team players who want to win in the market. That’s the reason for our success right now.”

Success to me is keeping our growing customer base in Ireland happy by offering great products and giving them great service

Sky doesn’t break out its figures for the Irish market, neither the financials, nor the spend on programming. However the €6 billion yearly spend on content across all their markets did produce two significant international success stories for Irish shows commissioned by Sky: Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy (filmed in Boyle, Co. Roscommon) and Baz and Nancy Ashmawy’s 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy, have both won Emmy awards.


With inspirational successes like that linked to the brand, his aspirations for the future of the Irish business are lofty. Put simply: “Not settling for anything less than the best – both for our customers and for the Sky Ireland team.”

With a growing workforce in Ireland, when it comes to motivating the team, he jokes, “I try to get out of their way! But I make sure they know I am available to support them at all times.”


Faced with overcoming challenges, or thinking his way through problems, Buckley is blessed with clarity and focus. “Every business has its challenges; no business is immune,” he admits, but is firm on how to get through it: “The key for me is to stand back, create some space to think about the right solutions, and once you’ve decided on the strategy, relentlessly execute on it.” 

Executing relentlessly on a strategy sounds like a surefire path to achieving goals. Buckley concludes with his definition of success, and reveals what motivates him in his daily business life: “Success to me is keeping our growing customer base in Ireland happy by offering great products and giving them great service. We can only do this through a motivated team of 1,000 people in Ireland doing all we can for our customers every day, which is what drives me to succeed.” 

Business & Finance, A View from the Boardroom

irish-life-health-vftbA View from the Boardroom, in association with Irish Life Health, features Ireland’s leading decision makers in business – those who provide effective leadership and are capable of understanding potential risks.