GUEST BLOG: Build Effective Teams to Maximise Performance

Over many years of working at various management and leadership levels within industry, academia and even in my “hay day” of playing competitive sport, there is one invaluable lesson I have taken with me when it comes to teamwork:

Winning teams don’t just happen!

In order to create and maintain highly productive teams, a conscious effort is always required to help, support and guide individuals to work together.

That famous lineTHERE’S NO I IN TEAM” is not really true, is it?

What helps make a team operate effectively is clearly understanding that any team is the sum of the “I’s” The “I”’s in this case being “Individuals”.

When we bring teams of people together, we bring individuals to the table with our own personal insecurities, likes and dislikes.

If you’re anything like me and have experienced the joy but also the challenges of raising a family, you will understand clearly that no one child is the same, what works well for the first child invariably fails for the next. As individuals we are all idiosyncratic, what motivates one may have the polar effect on the other.

Whether it’s a board, a division or a corporation the ability to build winning teams is the key to the success of any organisation. The impact of poor team performance can be the key factor in an organisation failing to reach their goals and objectives and can stifle its ability to flourish and grow and reach maximum potential.

Figuring out what it takes to maintain a successful team is among the greatest challenges in business today. It’s difficult enough with a cohesive team that is located in the same place. Factor in teams that are anywhere around the world, representing different functions, backgrounds and agendas – and the challenge is immense.

Key Questions for Any Team:

  1. Why is our team together?
  2. What are we here to do?
  3. What does each individual within the team really want?
  4. How psychologically safe is our team – can we be open to express feelings, ideas and even take risks?
  5. How much confidence do we have in each other?
  6. Is our team the right size/right fit for decision making?
  7. How good are we at managing difficult conversations within our team
  8. Do we foster a culture of trust

Good team performance and positive team relations need to be developed and maintained and certain features or ‘building blocks’ enable teams to work together effectively. It is not enough to simply put a group of people together and call them a team. They need individual skills and the collective capacity to learn and work together. Teams need the opportunity to grow, learn and develop.

The feedback we have received over the last twenty years from industry partners is that no organisation should underestimate the importance and need to provide continuous support and development to our teams.  The power of support can result in enhanced team performance and an accelerated impact on organisational goals.

In my current role as CEO of EQuita Consulting I have both the honour and pleasure to continue to assist teams at all levels within industry collaborate more effectively and ultimately perform more effectively. When you see at first hand the impact a better understanding of team dynamics can have on organisational success it becomes a vision you want to share.

Two of my all-time favourite quotes on team dynamics

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

Many of us are more capable than some of us, but none of us is as capable as all of us.” Tom Wilson


t: +353 (0)1 293 4741 | e: [email protected]   | |


Calcutta Run 2016

On Saturday 21st May, The Panel joined over 1,500 participants at Blackhall Place for the 2016 Calcutta Run, organised by the Law Society of Ireland. We were delighted to once again sponsor the event.

With rain promised, everyone was delighted that the sun shone throughout the race and for part of the BBQ! Participants of all ages came together on the day with a great sense of comradery. Our very own team from The Panel included; Alan Bluett (finished 4th, 0:19:44), Shauna Fox (0:52:20), Grace Leonard (0:52:20) and Ruth Colgan (0:52:21) Well done all!

The Calcutta Run is an annual event organised to raise much needed funds for two very worthy charities; the Peter McVerry Trust and GOAL.

Congratulations to the organisers the Law Society of Ireland and the event manager Hilary Kavanagh on another brilliant event.

Our photographer on the day was Sarah Kelly, thank you for some great shots!

To view images from the day, see below. 

Philip Lee Team
LK Shields Team
Legal Aid Board Team


Calcutta Run 2016

On Saturday 21st May, The Panel joined over 1,500 participants at Blackhall Place for the 2016 Calcutta Run, organised by the Law Society of Ireland. We were delighted to once again sponsor the event.

With rain promised, everyone was delighted that the sun shone throughout the race and for part of the BBQ! Participants of all ages came together on the day with a great sense of comradery. Our very own team from The Panel included; Alan Bluett (finished 4th, 0:19:44), Shauna Fox (0:52:20), Grace Leonard (0:52:20) and Ruth Colgan (0:52:21) Well done all!

The Calcutta Run is an annual event organised to raise much needed funds for two very worthy charities; the Peter McVerry Trust and GOAL.

Congratulations to the organisers the Law Society of Ireland and the event manager Hilary Kavanagh on another brilliant event.

Our photographer on the day was Sarah Kelly, thank you for some great shots!

To view images from the day, see below. 

Philip Lee Team
LK Shields Team
Legal Aid Board Team


The Panel – Banking & Treasury Salary Guide 2016

The Panel recently published their annual Banking & Treasury Salary Guide for 2016. 

To find out more download the salary guide to the right of the screen in our “Resource” section or click on the image below.


The Panel – Funds & Investment Management Salary Guide 2016

During the Q2 The Panel published their annual Fund & Investment Banking, Legal, Banking & Treasury Salary Guide for 2016. 

To find out more download the salary guide to the right of the screen in our “Resource” section or click on the image below.


GUEST BLOG: The New Social Infrastructure Driving Business

Social Media platforms have given businesses a very powerful toolkit to engage with customers. And many businesses have done an excellent job leveraging these platforms for growth. However, many businesses take a one-dimensional approach around communication. Social media can help you to do more. It opens up an opportunity to build a customer activated enterprise around these new systems of engagement. I’d like to share a powerful strategic planning framework that I use with clients to unlock growth. 

A Social Business Framework
One of my favourite strategic planning frameworks for social is the model developed by a Dutch team – Ingmar de Lange, Judith Hordijk and Wilco Kaasenbrood.

The model forces you to think about moving beyond social media as a communication tool in a traditional sense. First of all lets take a look at understanding the way that it works by breaking it down into it’s key components. 

On the X-axis we range from social media to social business. 

Then we break up the X-axis into 4 main domains:

The Y-axis ranges from Brand-centric to User-centric:

Let’s explore how you can make this model work for your business. Like most new digital strategy you need to adapt your mindset. Easier said than done! The key mindset challenge is to get beyond communication as the primary role of social media. 

•    Brand-centric: Use social channels to tell your brand story e.g. use it for PR. 
•    User-centric: Create socially optimised engagement with your staff. A leading Irish bank uses a platform with strong social design to build staff engagement, to distribute company news & to get feedback directly to senior management from the frontline staff dealing with customers. It’s not difficult or expensive to replicate this approach. 

•    Brand-centric: Coca Cola won a host of marketing awards and built a huge following when they developed their liquid & linked strategy a couple of years ago. Coke built a real-time story telling platform so that consumers could engage closely with their brands. They didn’t develop any new technology. They simply ensured that much of what they did was built for social media so that it would be easily distributed and invite social engagement.
•    User-centric: A couple of years ago I worked with the United Nations and the Kofi Annan Foundation to crowd source ideas from the world’s young people. The intention was to uncover the key things that motivated them and to incorporate these into UN Development Goal planning. We used social media to engage them. We developed simple widgets to let them upload their ideas and to upvote the ideas they liked best. With simple data visualisation techniques, we were able to surface & identify popular themes. It all happened in real-time in the weeks leading up to a UN youth conference.  The findings were presented on the floor of the UN General Assembly. In this approach we leveraged existing social tools to build our platform in 6 weeks.

•    Brand-centric:  Social media platforms can help you to build a powerful insight into the Voice of your Customer. But this approach needs to start with a plan to harvest and analyse data. Have you got a plan? Again, there are simple tools to deploy that are inexpensive and easy to use. This could help you to identify new addressable market segments, uncover new & unmet customer needs and refine your marketing messaging to deliver new growth. 
•    User-centric: Co-creation is a powerful new dynamic in customer-activated businesses. Have you asked your customers what they want? Have you asked them to help you to participate in building new value propositions? Social media is an ideal place to do that. It doesn’t have to only be about plugging into your customers either. This is your opportunity to plug into the creative community globally. Harley Davidson used a simple Facebook programme to invite ideas for a new advertising campaign and offered the winner a cash payment as well as a chance to participate in the advert production. Whilst Converse did something similar to invite their customers to share their fashion, colour and design ideas.

•    Brand-centric: Social media should play a critical role in your Inbound Marketing. Social media lets you learn so much more about your customers. You can do this in real-time too.
•    User-centric: Would you describe your customer service as being socially optimised? Social media can be a powerful way to engage customers. You can help them to solve problems and that can be a key part of your retention strategy. For the time being you’ll need to use Humans! However, AI & messaging bots are now a raging hot topic in tech circles. And customer service is a key use case where AI & messaging bots will be deployed. Facebook M – an AI Virtual Assistant – is in Beta in California. This is part of Facebook’s plan to help businesses deliver a better socially optimised customer service experience. 

People are social! And people spend a large amount of their time on Social Media platforms. If you and your business are active on these platforms, if you challenge yourselves to move beyond the narrow paradigm of communication programmes, then you could unlock new opportunities for growth.

About David O’Leary

David O’Leary, Partner, BMI Lab, has been helping businesses develop unique value propositions to grow revenue for over 20 years. BMI Lab is a consultancy that helps businesses unlock powerful new growth through innovation and digital strategy. We use leading edge tools such as Design Thinking, Business Model Innovation and Hidden Needs Analysis, to cost-effectively create and deliver new value for your customers while establishing innovative business models that capture sustainable value for your company. 

David has worked with many successful brands & companies over the years including; EY, Bank of Ireland, Aon, United Nations, RTÉ, Bulmers & Jameson. 

David’s focus has always been to deliver sustainable growth grounded in innovative thinking. He believes that he understands the ups and downs of both large organisations and start-ups based on his own experiences as Founder & CEO with companies such as Ripple Platform – an EI HPSU Technology Start-up – and 8020 – a leading digital marketing agency.

t: +353 (0)87 203 8148  | e: [email protected] | |



GUEST BLOG: Networking Goal Setting

“If you have always done what you have always did, then you will always get what you have always got!” A definition of insanity. 

I have a few questions for you.

  • Do you find that networking doesn’t work for you?
  • You have tried it and the return on investment didn’t pay off?
  • Did you track your networking efforts?
  • If you did, how did you try and improve the results?

Networking is not natural for a lot of us and so then we make excuses as to why it doesn’t work so we don’t have to do it. It’s a skill that needs to be honed, practiced and perfected. It should come across as natural and not forced. It will take time and like anything in life, the best things come to those who wait.

When I work with organisations and individuals on how to get the most from networking, I relate it back to basic business. If you are not tracking something then how can you improve it and relate the results back to it? So networking goal setting is the topic of this blog.

It can be as simple as setting a goal for the number of new people that you would like to meet at the next networking event. Start small with 1 or 2. This will get you out of your comfort zone and help you practice meeting new people. Remember, it’s not about trying to close the deal there and then, but more importantly, start building the relationship.

People fall into the trap of saying that networking doesn’t work for them but when they analyse their activity, they see that at the events, they are talking to the same people who they already know. Networking is about working the net of people you find yourself with.

Once you start to build up the number of new people that you will meet, the next KPI to track will be the number of follow up meetings you are able to achieve. This can be a simple coffee or a structured 121 meeting where you find out more about the other company and vice versa. A structured agenda/format will help this meeting. Not everyone you meet networking will want to meet you afterwards. Again, remember, this is not a hard sell! It’s about finding out more and building that relationship.

The last thing to track would be your time and how you are investing it networking. What I mean by this is are you spending your networking time at events or with organisations that aren’t giving you any increase in your actual network. Some of the more serious networkers I know qualify every new person they meet in a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system or even a simple spreadsheet. They separate the people they meet into 4 groups. This can be colour coded or simply named Groups A, B, C and D.

Starting with the latter.

  • Group D may be people that you connect with virtually but at this moment in time you can see no potential benefit in keeping in touch with them on a regular basis.
  • Group C may be people that you meet with to keep the relationship alive once a year for a coffee or 121.
  • Group B need some more attention and more regular meet ups.
  • Then Group A contacts are high value and really need to be looked after. Constant meet ups and contact as it is of benefit to both parties.  These are sometimes called “Raving Fans” and are big advocates of you, your business or service. They try to create opportunity for you whenever they can. Looking after these contacts will seriously help your career and business.

The above may sound very clinical but tracking your network and actively managing it will help you reap the rewards of networking. In BNI, we advocate a farming mentality to networking and planting the seed for future and regular mutual benefit. Some see networking as a hunting expedition and they only see the single sale and not the long term relationship.

The end result may take time. Weeks, months and sometimes even years, but building your network is never a bad thing. You will never know when you may need an introduction through one of the members of your network to your next client or even better an introduction to your next job or promotion with your current work structure. 

In the next issue I will be talking about acting like a host and not a guest.

About Derek Reilly

Derek Reilly is a recognised expert in the areas of face to face and online networking. He previously worked with BNI (Business Network International) for nearly 10 years and has trained thousands of businesses on the power of networking. Derek is a regular guest speaker at conferences and company in-house trainings. He is proud to have spoken and trained on 3 continents (Europe, America and Asia). His progression within his own networks is testament to his knowledge of networking.

t: +353 (0)86 683 9709  | e: [email protected] | | LinkedIn |


SPOTLIGHT: Barry McAuliffe from Artizan Food Co.

In this, the fourth of our “In the Spotlight” interviews with Managers, Partners, CEOs and Founders from various industries we will on this occasion look at artisan food and in particular the gourmet gems of our guest Director.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Barry McAuliffe, MD, Artizan Food Co.

Company History:

It was formed in 2005.

Elevator Pitch:

At Artizan Food Co. we stand by our company motto ‘great food comes from great kitchens’ but what makes us truly unique? Well, we are a full service catering company for the corporate sector or as we like to say – one stop shop catering. 

More importantly however, we have designed our current business model to meet evolving client needs, offering a tailored, high quality catering service that really sets us apart. We are also very proud to be a growing, Irish owned and operated business which champions local produce. 

I have my very determined wife, Jeananne O’Brien, to thank for laying all the ground work. In 2005 she started out with a small gourmet sandwich shop on Leeson street and with a lot of hard work and the courage to constantly innovate, Artizan Food Co. has now become one of the leading corporate catering companies in Ireland.

However we have been very careful to remain true to the original concept of offering high quality food using only the freshest natural ingredients, teamed with innovative recipe development. Above all else, our dedication is to produce great food.

The truth is I was extremely excited, if a little nervous, to join the company full-time over a year ago as Managing Director. Change is always a risk but it opened up the opportunity for Jeananne to really focus on business development and site mobilisation while I could bring a fresh approach to the management role.

We have successfully built a team of professionals and together we pride ourselves in being able to push the boundaries of traditional catering which we believe gives us the edge you need in this competitive environment. We actually thrive on receiving unusual client requests that allow us to source new produce and create interesting recipes. We are always looking to the future of catering and draw on inspiration from many other countries. 

We have 

  • a proven track record of providing hot food to clients (breakfast, lunch and dinner), all of which is prepared at our state of the art Food Production Facility and shipped into our clients fresh daily;
  • experience of running managed kitchens in conjunction with chefs who operate in the client’s in-house kitchen;
  • a proven track record of operating the Vending/Micro Kitchen services for clients in Dublin, stocking fridges with fresh products produced in-house; 
  • a very successful Office Catering Division, which can provide clients with catering requirements for in-house meetings
  • a proven track record in running innovative themed parties and events (whether that is on our own or partnering with an events company);

Who would benefit from your service/product?

Any company with high quality catering requirements. 

If your business is looking for a catering partner that is innovative, flexible, dynamic and provides a consistently high level of service, then look no further than Artizan Food Co.

Biggest achievement in the last 12 months:

It has to be completing the construction of our new state of the art Food Production Facility. We now have the capacity to really grow the business over the coming years.

Plans for the next 12 months:

With our Food Production Facility now fully operational, we will build on our client portfolio to increase revenue and market share.

Biggest challenge to your business:

The current shortage of chefs in Ireland, which needs to be addressed urgently.

Increasing food prices is also always a factor when procuring the highest quality produce. 

Best advice you can give other business owners:

Keep operating costs as low as possible and do your research, there is a lot of free advice out there which can be really useful.

If I was Minister for Finance, the first thing I’d do is:

Reduce the capital gains tax rates and make it more attractive for entrepreneurs to set up businesses in Ireland, starting with reinstating the PAYE allowance for beneficial directors.

Reasons to be cheerful:

I am very lucky…. while working for yourself can be tough and time consuming it is also very rewarding and flexible – which is especially helpful when juggling a young family.


t: +353 (0)1 6624848 | e: [email protected]   | |



GUEST BLOG: Reclaiming the stolen years

With incomes rising and taxes falling it is time to set more ambitious retirement income goals according to Brian McGarry.

The onset of the recession in 2008 saw quite dramatic cuts in earnings for both companies and employees. For owner managers and senior directors it was very much a survival game in many businesses. Like a captain trying to keep a ship afloat every item deemed unnecessary was jettisoned overboard.

The first casualty of this process was very often the pension plan. This usually started with contribution cuts by employers and employees and frequently culminated with contributions ceasing altogether. The impact of these measures was exacerbated by the pension levy which depressed the growth in value of the pension fund over the period. Furthermore, quite a few shareholder directors took advantage of the option to draw down up to 30% of their AVC value to reinvest in the company.

With the economic recovery now well established and GDP growth, domestic spending, and the public finances all in good health pensions have moved up the agenda once again. However, simply resuming contributions is not enough. Those years of pension neglect have now started to crystallise and people have to take a completely fresh look at their pension and their retirement income ambitions.

The first thing to look at for most people in this situation will be their intended retirement age. The ambition during the recession was probably not to retire at all. But that goal now needs to be reset. Once that has been decided the next step is to look forward to the type of lifestyle which will be desirable or simply necessary in retirement.

That lifestyle will include where the individual is going to live, what they want to drive, healthcare and health insurance requirements, leisure activities, holidays, helping out children with life events such as weddings – the list goes on. The point in examining these things is to establish what proportion of current income is required to fund a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. Whilst mortgages may be paid off by the time an individual retires there are other costs such as motoring and health insurance which are often borne by companies and will have to be paid from pension income.

The next thing to look at is all current arrangements for both the individual and his/her spouse and what they are likely to pay out in a “do nothing” scenario at the projected retirement date. Consideration also needs to be given to the changed state pension age. If the individual plans to retire before age 68 and was born after January 1, 1961 they will have to factor in the non- receipt of the state pension for a period.

Having taken these steps it is now possible to carry out a gap analysis on the pension plan. This will identify the difference between what the pension fund is likely to pay and what is required. After that it’s a question of putting in place a plan to bridge that gap.

While the gap may seem large at the moment prompt action can mean it is addressed relatively painlessly. For example, an individual aged 45 earning €60,000 who intends retiring at age 65 has 20 years in which to make up for lost time and the time value of money is on their side. However, any delay, even for just a few years, will push the cost up significantly and possibly put retirement goals out of reach. 

The most important first step is to take independent financial advice as soon as possible to establish what the options are to reclaim the stolen years. 

About Brian

Brian joined Invesco in 1996. Prior to that, Brian worked as a Pension Consultant with Irish Pensions Trust in their Cork, Dublin and Galway offices. Brian became a Director of Invesco in 1999 and has since headed up the SME sector of Corporate Pensions. In 2008 Brian moved to Cork as part of the management team to oversee the setup of the new Cork office. Brian has since returned to the Dublin office and continues to have overall responsibility for the SME area in the Dublin and Cork offices.

t: +353 (0)1 294 7600 | e: [email protected] | w: |


GUEST BLOG: When an employer is liable for an employee’s unlawful acts

The doctrine of vicarious liability states that an employer is liable for the acts of its employee if those acts are so connected that they may rightly be regarded as modes – although improper modes – of doing his job or are in the course of his employment.  This test is essentially followed in both Ireland and the UK but with possible different results.

In the recent UK Supreme Court case of Mohamud v Morrison Supermarkets, an employee carried out an unprovoked racially-motivated physical assault on a customer.  The UK Court found Morrison Supermarkets vicariously liable for the damage caused to the customer by its employee.

The UK Supreme Court explained that a court must simply decide if there is a sufficiently close connection between the unlawful acts and the employment to make it just for the employer to be held vicariously liable.  The Court went on to explain that the justification is not grounded on an ordinary sense of fairness but, instead, public policy demands that it is socially convenient to make an employer liable for the torts of its less wealthy employees.

The UK Supreme Court explained that it is true the employer has not authorized the particular unlawful act, but the employer has put the employee in his place to do that class of acts and the employer must be answerable for the manner in which the employee has conducted himself in doing the business which it was the act of the employer to place the employee in. 

Would an Irish court have reached the same decision?

The Irish courts appear to be more reticent to hold an employer vicariously liable for the unauthorised unlawful acts of its employees.  For example in the case of the Health Board v BC, the High Court found that an employer was not vicariously liable for the sexual harassment by some employees of another employee because none of the employees were acting in the scope of their employment when they sexually assaulted the victim.

The Irish Supreme Court commented on the UK line of authority on vicarious liability in O’Keeffe v Hickey: one judge criticized the UK line of authority on vicarious liability; while two judges did not reject the UK line of authority.  However, that case was not decided on the issue of vicarious liability and we await a future case to deal directly with the point.

About James

James Scanlon is Head of Employment Law at Maples and Calder’s Dublin office and was assisted by Sinéad Egan, Associate. Should you have any queries on this or any employment matter please contact James or your usual Maples contact.

t: +353 (0)1 619 2061 | e: [email protected] | w: |