Network Ireland President: We are there to inspire, support and empower

Ahead of the Network Ireland Annual Conference in West Cork this week, EMMA CONNOLLY takes a look at the line-up of influential speakers
Network Ireland President: We are there to inspire, support and empower
President of Network Ireland Helen Wycherley at the charity partnership between Network Ireland and Irish Guide Dogs for The Blind. Network Ireland has chosen the Irish Guide Dogs as its charity partner for its 2019 Conference and Annual Awards. The organisation is aiming to raise €5k to help the charity organisation.Picture: Darragh Kane

CHANGE in the world of work has never happened so fast, yet it will never happen this slow again, and women need to lead the way.

That’s the message Peter Cosgrove, Future of Work expert, is going to share with more than 250 delegates attending the Network Ireland National Conference and Awards Ceremony, this Friday, September 27 in West Cork.

Network Ireland is Ireland’s longest established and leading female-focused business network and this year, its president is Cork woman Helen Wycherley, who is bringing the conference to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Helen, a director of the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, which will host the event, explained how it’s designed “to ensure women in business have the resilience, motivation, insights, and know-how to fulfil their potential and lead and inspire others”.

In advance of the conference, Peter, a former President of the National Recruitment Federation and former Chairman of Junior Achievement Ireland, said: “In a world with robotics and artificial intelligence looking to replace our jobs, and where technology has already disrupted many industries, it is a good time to start looking up from your business and thinking how can you use this as an opportunity and stop thinking of it as a threat.”

Pointing to the impact that Airbnb has had on hotels and Uber on taxis, he said: “Talent has never been so important and as we finally embrace diversity, it is time for more women to lead this change.”

The theme Helen has chosen for the conference, and for her year at the helm of the organisation, is ‘Step Up’, or more specifically ‘Step up for what’s right for you’. So, for some women that will be going for the promotion, while for others it will mean something else entirely, depending on what stage of life they’re at.

“Essentially, it’s about stepping up as a role model for the younger generation, who will see us being proactive; it’s about building a future for them,” said mum of three, Helen.

Mayor of Cork County Cllr. Christopher O'Sullivan, President of Network Ireland Helen Wycherley, Celtic Ross Hotel and Denis Dudley, AIB Head of Business Banking Branch Network Cork at the launch of the Network Ireland Awards Ceremony and Conference which takes place on the 27th of September in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery. Picture: Darragh Kane
Mayor of Cork County Cllr. Christopher O'Sullivan, President of Network Ireland Helen Wycherley, Celtic Ross Hotel and Denis Dudley, AIB Head of Business Banking Branch Network Cork at the launch of the Network Ireland Awards Ceremony and Conference which takes place on the 27th of September in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery. Picture: Darragh Kane

Designer, businesswoman, and social entrepreneur, Sonya Lennon, is a well- known keynote speaker and is going to look at how we can design our own strategy for stepping up.

She asks: “If you were a highly valuable racehorse, how would your owner and trainer treat you? They would make sure you had the right nutrition, regime and rest for you to meet then exceed your potential. But when these decisions and behaviours are left to us, human nature makes it easy for us make excuses.

“When we work on our inner narrative, our accountability and our clarity and marry them with consistency and drive, real and positive change will happen.”

Another familiar speaker will be Grace O'Rourke, who recently took part and completed RTÉ’s Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week. She’ll be telling the audience, who will be travelling from all over the country, how failing to get her dream job — in the army — and other life disappointments helped her push herself further than she ever thought.

The gruelling mental and physical challenges that she had to endure and overcome while competing in Hell Week made her realise she had been subconsciously using one method her whole life when the going got tough.

“Whether it be when competing in athletics or showjumping; applying for the army after being rejected; taking on the challenge of starting a new business; or pushing myself that extra mile when training, having complete composure, focus and co-operation between mind and body is what has helped to keep me battling through.”

Grace said she is delighted to be sharing this and her lessons in life with Network members.

And that’s essentially what Network Ireland is all about — supporting each other.

Helen added: “When I use the phrase ‘step up’, it’s not about someone out there flying solo trying to do it themselves. Everyone needs support behind them to get to where it is they want to be. Our members have Network Ireland behind them every step of the way.

“For some, that’s a small step but for others, it might be a big one and we’re there to support, empower, encourage, lead, inspire, motivate, mentor and coach them to step up to the challenges and opportunities that cross their paths.”

Tickets for the conference, which is run in assocation with Cork County Council, can be purchased at Eventbrite.ie

LEADING THE WAY

Leadership is not only for a few — it is for everyone and within everyone.

That’s the message that Joanne Hession will be sharing at the Network Ireland Conference.

Starting as an entrepreneur following a period working in the refugee camps in Rwanda after the Civil War, at the age of 27 she founded two businesses of her own, The Entrepreneurs Academy and QED The Accreditation Experts.

She has gone on to train more than 30,000 entrepreneurs towards success over 20 years.

Speaking in advance of the conference, she said: “There are so many theories and approaches to leadership and leadership training but at its core, what I want to examine is ‘What does a good leader look like?’. Too often in the past we have mistaken titles for leadership, when, in reality, what your title is says nothing about how well you lead.

“My approach to leadership is that being a good leader has to start with how well you lead your own life: how consistent are you; how strong are your own values and how clearly do you communicate these? A good leader is someone that others want to follow, and this is as important in a family situation as it is within sports teams, communities or business.”

She believes that Network Ireland is ‘an excellent organisation for giving women networking opportunities and inspiring them to be the best that they can be.’ “It also places a high degree of importance on issues such as ethics in business, which I have long believed to be at the heart of good business leadership.”

Sonya Lennon, one of the speakers at the annual Network ireland Conference and Awards. Picture Brian McEvoy
Sonya Lennon, one of the speakers at the annual Network ireland Conference and Awards. Picture Brian McEvoy

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AND PANELISTS

Sonya Lennon, designer, businesswoman, and social entrepreneur

Gráinne McCarthy, Deputy Chief News Editor, Wall Street Journal.

Journal Grace O’Rourke, Fitness and Mindset Coach who completed Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week

Joanne Hession, co-founder and CEO of LIFT Ireland

Peter Cosgrove, Future of Work expert

Michelle Noone, Head of Search and State Boards

Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland

Ronan Murphy, Group CEO, Smarttech247 and Getvisibility.com

Helen Smyth, Head of Ireland, GBG Scaled, Facebook

Dawn Leane, Principal Consultant at Leane Leaders

Cork County Council are the partners for the national conference while AIB are the official Partners of Network Ireland nationally.

Winner of the overall Network Cork Businesswoman of the Year Award 2019 Ciara Crossan, Wedding Dates. Picture: Darragh Kane
Winner of the overall Network Cork Businesswoman of the Year Award 2019 Ciara Crossan, Wedding Dates. Picture: Darragh Kane

NETWORK IRELAND WOMEN IN BUSINESS ANNUAL AWARDS

The annual conference, will also include the presentation of the Network Ireland Women in Business Awards.

Women from the Network Ireland branches all over Ireland have been shortlisted. In Cork, the following women have made the final:

Ciara Crossan, WeddingDates

Loretta Kennedy, Mamabear Foods

Val Finnegan Cahill, Ikon Hair Design

Marion Courtney, Himalaya Yoga Valley

Helen Walshe, EmployMum

Marguerite O’Sullivan, Depuy Synthes.

Network Ireland Cork branch President Gillian Hennessy said: “ I want to wish our six representatives the very best of luck in the awards.”

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