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The leadership blueprint: what all senior executives can learn from Ireland’s FDI successes


It is through a combination of excellence in strategic thinking and leadership impact that senior managers in Irish operations have continued to win new mandates from their global headquarters.  The skills and abilities that generate these management successes are not however relevant only to leaders in multinationals.

In an increasingly globalised economy, every senior executive, regardless of the size or focus of the business in which they operate,  needs to cultivate global best-practice capabilities in both strategy and leadership.

 The Numbers – €122.5bn, €19bn, €7.4bn via 260,000

Let me tell you what they mean. In 2012, according to this excellent IDA infographic, 260,000 staff in multinationals (MNCs) in Ireland created 122.5bn in exports, earned 7.4bn in salaries and their organisations spent 19bn in the Irish economy. Of the 145 new investments in Ireland in 2012, 66 were companies who invested for the first time.

To me these numbers tell us two things:

1. The IDA is doing a fantastic job in marketing Ireland abroad, attracting Foreign Direct Investment and, in turn, stimulating our economy

2. MNCs already established on these shores have just as much economic impact as those investing in Ireland for the first time. In fact, according to the figures, around 55% of the 2012 investments came from companies with a presence in Ireland already

The country leadership of our multinationals are doing a great job of growing their global mandate. Why? Well, to begin with, local managers in MNCs have decision-making authority when it comes to issues that impact their business in Ireland. In fact, almost 70% of respondents in Merc Partners’ Executive Expectations survey are of the view that they have significant autonomy to take decisions.

Take, for example, Yahoo!, the global internet search engine. They have grown from a small team with feet on the ground in Dublin since 2003 to a multi-lingual, multi-cultural workforce who earlier this month announced a further 200 jobs for their Dublin HQ. This investment is undoubtedly a vote of confidence in the Irish leadership group and a comment on the country strategy they are pursuing.  There is one cautionary note however. The Merc survey asked what skill gaps are hampering progress at an organisational level; the most frequently cited shortage? Leadership Skills.

Over the past year we have been working with international experts to investigate how  leaders operating in both foreign and Irish-owned multinationals have grown the global footprint of their business.  Our findings have given us a skills blueprint by which all senior managers can enhance their own capabilities and drive growth in their organisations.

Our redesigned Senior Executive Programme  focuses on the two critical pillars of strategy and leadership. It launches on 14th May and places are at a premium. If you’re interested in discussing whether this programme could drive return on investment for your organisation please contact me at alistair.tosh@imi.ie or +353 (0)1 207 8495

Alistair Tosh is Director of Executive Education at the Irish Management Institute and is a specialist in leadership development. 

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