I like to bring as many diverse ideas as possible to a particular challenge

Mary Cummins spoke with Tina Gannon, National Enterprise Hubs Manager with Enterprise Ireland. Tina shares insights on collaborative leadership, the role of enterprise centres, the changing business landscape, and her passion for supporting entrepreneurs.
I like to bring as many diverse ideas as possible to a particular challenge

Tina Gannon, National Enterprise Hubs Manager with Enterprise Ireland.

EXUDING energy, and a distinct passion for what she does, Tina Gannon, National Enterprise Hubs Manager with Enterprise Ireland, spoke earnestly about the significance of enterprise centres for the entire business eco-system.

Describing them as state-of-the-art facilities, set up as not-for-profits, these centres support entrepreneurship, and mean that those who use them can be around innovative thinkers, said Tina from Waterfall, Cork.

While Enterprise Ireland focuses on high-performing start-ups with at least ten employees and an ambition to export into international markets, they also, she stated, work in the regions supporting local communities. The Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen is one such example.

Enterprise Ireland has invested over €160 million in not-for-profit Enterprise Centres under several schemes, including the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Border Enterprise Development Fund.

“My involvement with Enterprise Centres has been a 5-year journey so far. I have been involved in Enterprise Centres from the very early inception stages of funding, through to management of funding initiatives, and now into the implementation of the various centres. We are currently supporting the Enterprise Centres that we have funded and promoting them to our clients as a start-up space or a scale-up space so that these centres will be independently sustainable for the years to come.” Now living in Kildare with her husband and two girls, Ms Gannon was clearly influenced by her own parents’ entrepreneurial journey, proud owners of O’Keeffe’s Bakery in Cork which has been open for 37 years.

Ms Gannon has worked with Enterprise Ireland for over 14 years. Her roles have included organisation development, management of the Leadership 4 Growth programme for the food sector, management of their graduate offers for clients and management of international markets week where 1,600 clients met virtually. She has witnessed many changes during this time.

“The business landscape and the constant diverse challenges that businesses face is ongoing and relentless. We have had the financial crisis, the insurance and banking sector almost collapsed, Brexit, the global Pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and now we are potentially facing a global recession. Enterprise Ireland has always needed to adapt and change and develop new offerings to support and help start-ups, the scaling of companies, and at times simply help companies to survive through the challenges they face,” she said.

Probing Ms Gannon’s views on Leadership today, she described herself as collaborative in style and likes to bring as many diverse ideas to a particular challenge as possible. Not a supporter of the directive style, though recognises that this is sometimes needed, Tina believes in the merits of getting to know the people on her team, their strengths, and weaknesses and most importantly their insecurities.

“It’s the insecurities that they are masking, things that they feel they are not able for, that’s their perspective. It’s about unlocking that and helping that person offload that baggage. That takes a load off their back and really helps them realise their full potential.

“I actually celebrate when someone makes a mistake. That’s what you will remember, the time that you might have messed up. It’s about not being held back by that. I have seen people not getting over a mistake, but that is when you learn and grow.”

Mary Cummins: Career and Executive Coach, Trainer and Facilitator.
Mary Cummins: Career and Executive Coach, Trainer and Facilitator.

Discussing attributes essential in leaders today, Ms Gannon considers that being connected to your team and truly understanding their career aspirations is important, helping them to realise their goals and full potential. Authenticity, doing and saying what you really mean and caring for the people around you are key. Offering meaningful and challenging and varied work is important. People want to be challenged, and they want variety, she said.

Exploring her views on the future of work, Ms Gannon said: “The pandemic has provided a fantastic evolution in the way we work, and I hope through this, it encourages many more people back into the world of work, especially women.”

Speaking on gender balance in the organisation she said: “Our board agreed that if 30% of the make-up of the leadership team is not women, then there is no point. It’s only window dressing. So, they are very cognisant of gender balance, and they are trying to get it up to 50%.

“The form of communication has changed exponentially. In my role, sending an e-mail is almost akin to sending a fax. It’s all social media now. It’s not going away. There will be more and more platforms, so we need to develop further in this area. It is the future.”

Going forward Tina wants to continue to support Enterprise Ireland client companies. She wants to help them maintain and strengthen their positions in their market and sector, and to support them to secure their global presence so that they will be resilient when they face many competitive challenges ahead.

“Coming from a family business background, I know first-hand the passion and energy that each and every entrepreneur has, and the outright determination and the belief that they have in their business. Entrepreneurs make a huge contribution to their local towns, communities, and the economy. Supporting them on their journey is really rewarding,” she concluded.

Mary Cummins is a Career and Executive Coach, Trainer and Facilitator and can be contacted by e-mail at: info@careerchanger.ie.

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