PIVOT SERIES – How “Common Purpose ” has pivoted since Covid-19

Meet Adirupa Sengupta, Group CEO, Common Purpose Charitable Trust, and Dara Connolly, CEO, Common Purpose Ireland. Common Purpose is a global social enterprise that develops, upskills and connects people from a range of backgrounds to help them become more effective leaders in society.
Covid19 has affected our business in a big way. Our business is built on a unique peer-to-peer experiential learning model. Using the ‘city as the classroom’, we bring leaders out of their typical day-to-day environments, and immerse them in different leadership environments so that they can learn about leadership up close at first-hand. Venues would include a prison, city port, national theatre, sports arena, tech multinational, etc. At the start of the crisis, it felt like Covid19 had attacked the very heart of our delivery model; it felt negative, detrimental even but quickly we saw the opportunity. 

The importance of purpose

Once we realised the extent of the challenge to our business model, we were determined to find ways to overcome it and not let it affect our survival. We are an organisation with an incredibly strong sense of purpose – to develop leaders who can cross boundaries so they can tackle the complex problems in the world. I think when you have a strong purpose, like we do, then that’s what motivates you – that’s what matters – not necessarily the delivery model. It’s certainly helped us get into the mind set to survive, adapt and thrive. As we’ve pivoted, we’ve found new and exciting ways to deliver on our purpose. 

How we pivoted 

We have adapted our business model in two ways. Critically we shifted all of our face-to-face and in-person delivery to a blended, multi-dimensional model. As we are a global organisation running programmes across the world; it was imperative that we develop an impactful offering that could be delivered entirely virtually, but also easily adapted to a blended or face-to-face model based on the prevailing public health advice. 

We also met the challenge of aligning our resource model to the needs of this reframed delivery model. In many ways we were lucky, because we have been delivering experiential leadership development online since 2014. It’s a space we understand well and in which we have a strong track record of meaningful impact. However, until this year, it only represented a small proportion of our activity, globally. So we’ve had to upskill parts of our business very quickly to turn online learning into our primary delivery model (at least for the time being).

How we innovated 

By using a large amount of creativity and inventiveness in our curation and programme design, we have designed a virtual offering that retains – even surpasses – the impact of our traditional face-to-face programmes. Key has been maintaining participant interactivity – taking people out of their day-to-day roles and challenges, whilst ensuring opportunities for personal reflection to ensure the learning is embedded. For example we have used drones, behind-the-scenes videos, live in-house interviews, break out rooms via Zoom, Teams and Web X to replicate the Common Purpose live experience.

Furthermore, with physical barriers dismantled; our programmes have gone fully global. The world is now a lot smaller and the commonality of challenges across borders and sectors is bringing us all onto the same playing field. Whereas previously programmes were solely city-based – e.g. Dublin, London, Hong Kong, Bangalore; our programme participants can now explore leadership across a range of locations via virtual ‘immersions’. Our global reach ensures that our programme participant groups are larger and more diverse than ever before, fostering rich leadership learnings. In Common Purpose we always say ‘the learning is in the room’.  By learning within a group of diverse leaders across the world, participants’ perspectives are widened, horizons broadened and they become more agile and effective leaders. 

Crisis drives culture change

To be honest, some of the changes we brought about as a result of Covid19 are things we were pushing to do for a while, but it was hard to drive all at once. Funny how a crisis can help propel culture change in an organisation! Covid19 helped us embrace digital at a speed and in a way that would have been hard to drive had it been in ‘normal’ circumstances.

Elements like the programmes now being international, incorporating coaching, the use of the Life Long Learning App (like a ‘Fitbit for the brain’), Translate sessions to embed the learning  and our unique online portal to keep our leaders continually talking and sharing experiences will all be maintained after social distancing is over. 

Going forward 

The future for both our business and society is hard to predict. The only certainty is uncertainty. Equally though, this crisis has given people an opportunity to think about how we can improve on how things used to be pre-Covid19. Preparing for this fluid future will require leaders to be resilient, agile and compassionate. While the market has been challenging during this period, we are confident that organisations that recognise the need for these strengths in their leaders will continue to recognise the value that Common Purpose provides. While the mood music in the economy at present can be disheartening, the key lesson we learned during the financial crisis of the last decade is that investment in a leadership culture that can adapt and innovate, pays an even greater dividend during challenging times.

Adirupa Sengupta & Dara Connolly

Group CEO & CEO  Ireland

Common Purpose

You can catch Common Purpose on the following social media platforms:

Common Purpose on LinkedIn
Common Purpose on Facebook
Common Purpose on Twitter
Common Purpose on Instagram


PIVOT SERIES – How “Spirit Motor Group ” has pivoted during the lockdown

Spirit Motor Group is one of Ireland’s largest automotive retail groups. Operating from nine locations we offer a vast selection of new and used cars and commercial vehicles.  Established in 2004, we are proud to represent some of the world’s most celebrated brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Ford, ŠKODA, SEAT and Volkswagen service.  In addition to our franchised dealerships in Sandyford and Baldonnell, we have two specialist used car facilities – Spirit Premium in Sandyford and Spirit Burton in Kilpedder, Co. Wicklow. 

Our state-of-the-art showrooms provide a fitting showcase for our range of vehicles but also put the customer at the heart of every aspect of our business.  We have invested heavily in the development of our locations over the past number of years and we welcome customers six days a week for test drives and service appointments.  The closure of our premises due to Covid-19 forced us to quickly adapt the way we do business.

Offering new services:

Change is hard. Changing your entire business overnight is even harder. Overnight, all staff except those covering essential breakdown cover began working from home. This was a fundamental shift in how we operate as many of our staff have never worked from home before. Thankfully, our IT department had invested in Microsoft Teams pre-lockdown and this became a vital tool for us all to keep in contact and host meetings. Staff were granted full remote access to all files successfully continuing their work from home with little disruption and soon got used to working virtually together.  Managers worked with their teams to ensure staff were comfortable and had everything possible to make their jobs easier.

However, getting staff familiar and comfortable working at home was only one of our challenges. While Spirit Motor Group’s online presence has evolved in recent years, most of our transactions still take place within our showrooms and Covid-19 restrictions made this impossible.   Thankfully we were able to respond to this in a timely manner since we had invested in a new e-commerce website platform in late 2019 and this was already up and running.  Our new website enables us to offer remote services to customers, including reserving a vehicle with an online deposit, as well as applying for finance.  Customers can also chat with our Sales teams in real time through a chat function on the site. This “Digital Showroom” became our biggest asset during lockdown as we could still offer customers the ability to secure a vehicle when needed. Our website is jam-packed with information to make the buying process easier, with an engaging and enhanced user journey.     Indeed, we saw a marked increase in the number of general enquiries, online deposits and finance applications coming through the site during the lockdown period and we are encouraged by the level of engagement we’re still seeing now that restrictions are easing.

Keeping in contact:

Keeping in contact with our customers was also a priority for us. We wanted to ensure our customers understood that although our showrooms had to close, we were still very much open for business and on-call should they have any questions or concerns about their vehicle. Our communications plan consisted of updating customers on our Digital Showroom to ensure they knew what facilities were available to them. We also offered customers some entertainment with lifestyle focused newsletters with colouring templates and other offers for the family to enjoy during lockdown. We contacted customers using a range of tools including email, SMS, direct mail and over the telephone depending on the customers’ preferences. Our sales staff were also facilitating daily calls or virtual meetings should a customer need more information. Maintaining and nurturing our relationships with our customers is very important to us whether we are physically open or not.

Hybrid mentality:

Our businesses reopened in line with the government’s health and safety guidelines on 18th May. We decided a video would be the most impactful way to communicate our reopening to our customers. Video has enabled us to show exactly how our new sales and service processes work so our customers can always be assured their health and safety is our priority and that our high levels of customer service have not been impacted. The video highlights screens at all our reception desks within showrooms, hand-washing stations, disinfectant gels, and one-way pathways for customers to follow reducing foot traffic in showrooms. These measures were tested by staff multiple times before reopening and are performing very well.

We will continue to invest in our Digital Showroom and to offer customers a hybrid sales process; those who would rather not visit a showroom do not need to. We are offering at-home test-drives, bespoke videos of vehicles, online Q&As and a pickup / drop off for service customers who need it most. We are confident that any Spirit customer who needs help will receive it in the most appropriate way for their circumstance.

We are confident about the future and are proud of the measures we have taken during lockdown to keep our business going strong. We are delighted to welcome all our customers back to our showrooms, whether physically or digitally knowing that in both cases we will continue to offer an outstanding level of attention and service.

Sinéad Farrell

Senior Marketing Executive

You can catch Sinead and Spirit Motor Group on the following social media platforms:

Sinéad Farrell on LinkedIn

Spirit Motor Group on LinkedIn

Spirit Motor Group on Twitter

Spirit Motor Group on Facebook


PRMIA event – 15th July, Webinar – The Brexit Clock is still ticking

As the Co-Regional Director of PRMIA Ireland Alan Bluett would like to invite you to the next PRMIA Ireland talk, and the first webinar of the year, on Wednesday 15th July at 1pm-2pm (EDT) / 6pm-7pm (IST). 

“The Brexit Clock is still ticking”

A two panellist discussion on the geopolitical developments surrounding Brexit, and how it will work in a COVID-19 future.

The webinar will be moderated by PRMIA EMEA Regional Directors Committee Co-Chair, Dr Monika Smatralova.

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar

Featured Panellists include:

Jim Power is Chief Economist for Aviva Ireland. He was previously Treasury Economist at AIB  (1987-1991), Chief Economist at Bank of Ireland Group  (1992-2000) and Chief Economist Friends First Group (2000 to 2018).

He is owner manager of Jim Power Economics Limited, an economic and financial consultancy. The company carries out consultancy projects, public speaking, and training for a variety of public and private sector entities. He is Chairman of Love Irish Food. He is a member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland.

He is a graduate of UCD and holds a BA and a Master of Economic Science Degree. He lectures part-time on the MSc Management and the MBA at Smurfit School of Business, UCD.

Richard Pike has extensive experience of working with financial institutions throughout the world, assisting companies in managing enterprise risk more efficiently while addressing local regulatory guidelines and standards. Richard is currently Chairman of Citadel Securities (Ireland) Ltd and an Independent Non-Executive Director at, FBD Insurance plc, The National Cyber Security Society, JPMorgan fund administration, JPMorgan hedge fund administration and Citadel Securities Europe. He is also the founder and CEO of Governor Software.

Prior to these roles, Richard has worked in various senior banking, insurance, credit and market risk roles at Permanenttsb bank, Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, ABN AMRO, Bain, COMIT Gruppe and Quay Financial Software.  He has analysed, designed and managed the development of core treasury and enterprise risk management systems for large financial institutions, including UBS, Citibank, Schroders and Unicredito.

In 2009, Richard was recognised as a “Top 50” Face of Operational Risk by Op Risk & Compliance magazine and was a contributing author to two books on risk management.  He was also a founding board member of the Governance, Risk and Compliance Technology Centre which focuses on research in the area of financial services governance, risk and compliance. He teaches on risk management at the Institute of Banking and at the UCD Smurfit Business School. Richard has also received the designation of ‘Certified Bank Director’ from the Institute of Banking.

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar

*** This event is FREE for members and non-members, although registration is required.  Click “Register Myself” below to reserve your spot. ***


6:00 PM Panel discussion opens

6:45 PM Panel discussion finishes

6:45 PM – 7:00 PM Q & A Session with the audience

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar


PIVOT SERIES – How The Panel has PIVOTED during Covid-19

With Phase 3 now firmly in place we here at The Panel are slowly but surely returning to normal operations.

Back in February when we first started to hear about COVID-19, and subsequently in March when the lockdown took effect, we had to adapt very quickly, this was most certainly a new situation for us.

Following in the footsteps of our neighbours LinkedIn and Google, we had decided to test having our entire workforce work from home even before the lockdown was official. Thankfully we had completed the transfer of our business fully to the Cloud in January, without this, things might have been different!

How have you pivoted your business?

Having invested significantly in cloud-based recruitment technologies such as Bullhorn, CloudCall, Daxtra and Cube19 in the last 18 months, our entire team was able to work from home overnight. Our recruitment technology gives us a big advantage over our competitors and means that our service to candidates and clients alike is uninterrupted and timelier.

After the official lockdown, we ceased all operations out of our office in Ballsbridge and put our remote WFH (Working From Home) strategy into place. We were very lucky to have a team so willing and adaptable to change. 

We decided to take this opportunity and embrace the flexibility it gave our colleagues to carry out the work they were required to do remotely. As businesses across the world found themselves in a position where recruitment was halted almost completely, we used the time to evaluate our approach in how to maintain contact with our existing candidates and clients, and to develop relationships with new ones.

We maintained our fully customer focussed approach, staying in contact and listening to our candidates and client’s requirements and issues. Our contacts, though tentative in engaging with job searches or recruitment processes, told us that our approach was appreciated and different. We found that “it’s good to talk” is as relevant now as ever!

As a result of the pandemic lockdown, we are now all ace at using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We have written useful blogs for clients and candidates alike on video interviewing, which have been universally well received.

Our sister business, The Agile Executive, has come into its own with its part-time executive offering and by doing mentorship work for Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs and the Small Firms Association. We are seeing continued growth in this flexible business model during COVID.

What if any of the COVID-19 changes do you see being made into long-term changes, and how do you believe it will help your business post the crisis?

Staying up to date with guidelines from the HSE, we will continue to adhere to social distancing and health advice. The exact roll-out for re-introduction of all the team back to the office will be gradual. All team members and visitors will observe certain protocols before entering our premises, we are limiting numbers in the office and the cleaning of all office spaces has increased in frequency.

Keeping our workforce remote, as much as possible, is still key. We may transition some of the team to a hybrid office/WFM model, especially those with long commutes.

What is your view on the market post COVID-19?

The recruitment industry is adapting to the COVID-19 world, activity is down, and confidence is dented. However, companies are still going to need new staff members, and jobseekers will still be looking for new opportunities. This will not change, however the way in which the recruitment processes are handled will.

Throughout the lockdown many employers were forced to complete their hiring process and on-boarding process remotely, this will more than likely continue, however I do believe there will be a slow move to more face-to-face interaction over the coming weeks. All whilst adhering to social distancing of course.

We are encouraged by some of the green shoots. It is too early to call how the market will react post-COVID-19, however if the government, Revenue and the banks continue to support businesses as they are now, this will accelerate a recovery in my opinion.

I am personally encouraged by the number of virtual events I have been asked to speak at during the lockdown. I have been very active in the last few years within the funds industry and 100 Women in Finance and while I miss the buzz of a room full of people, I have adapted to the new forms of communication!

We, here at The Panel will continue to offer our customers the best service possible, and we hope to see you all in person soon again, let’s stay positive, let’s stay safe.

Anne Keys

Joint Managing Partner

You can find us on the following social media platforms:

The Panel on LinkedIn

The Panel on Twitter

The Panel on Facebook

The Panel on Instagram