To The Druids Glen and Beyond…
When I began my work placement with The Entrepreneur of The Year team on March 24th I was somewhat unaware of the wonderful madness that would quickly follow. As an intern I had expected to be conducting tasks that contributed to the delivery of a project but, should I be unable to deliver for some reason, it wouldn’t really have any major effect on the team, or our mission. There was a certain comfort in this fact, yet if this had been true; the job would not be challenging or motivating. What I have experienced is completely the opposite. I have been lucky enough to be enveloped completely by the team and trusted with mission critical work during my short 13 weeks here. Never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned myself networking with 100 of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs whilst watching workers construct a Boeing 747 in the largest industrial building in the world. And that was just the tip of the iceberg!
Rewind back to the beginning of May when the 2014 finalists were welcomed into the programme by EOY, EY and the Alumni at the Meet the Finalists Dinner in The Four Seasons. I had the pleasure, on this day, to help Sasha, our Senior Media Relations Associate with PR briefings for many of the finalists on the first leg of their EOY journey. There was an air of excitement and anticipation as they arrived one by one unsure of what lay ahead but ready nonetheless. Their excitement was certainly matched with my own with this being my first year with the EOY team. Everyone was buzzing, delighted to be meeting the “newbies” of the programme as the Alumni have branded them. There was mingling, fancy food, speeches, introductions and finally an overview of what to expect on the CEO Retreat. Save the best till last eh? The overview delighted and dazzled all involved, and left those of us not going just a little envious. Okay, very envious!
The subsequent two weeks brought a flurry of activity akin to organised chaos in EOY HQ as the team set about putting the finishing touches to a project that had been months in the making. This period would not be suited to the faint of heart as we faced deadlines a plenty. Luckily the team are such that they work well under pressure and so the ensuing deadlines only served to motivate us further. There were many late evenings chasing material, editing and proofreading in order to get the brochure to print on time, alongside personalised folders, lanyards, luggage tags and notebooks. My love of lists was somewhat tested after spending the bones of two weeks working on various spreadsheets, the most intricate of which was used to make personalised, yes personalised, day by day itineraries for each and every attendee of the Retreat, all 100 of them. These particular tasks opened my eyes to the awesomeness of Excel, I love spreadsheets! (I really do!)
So Day 1, for the first time, was held in Ireland, in Druids Glen. Packing up in the office on the Friday, we couldn’t quite believe it was already upon us, putting the last few lists together for the team packs and it was all hands on deck to get everything done, packed and ready to go. We headed down that evening to get a clear run of the day on the 24th.
Ireland Day went off without a hitch; everyone arrived early and was split into their teams which they would remain in for the week. The day was kicked off with an introduction from Frank O’Keeffe. We then guided the finalists to a speed dating session with the EY partners, the Alumni, sponsors and judges. The afternoon brought inspiring and educational talks from Atlantic adventurer Paul Gleeson, Denis Brosnan, the visionary behind Kerry Group, and Ireland’s greatest entrepreneurial success story, Denis O’Brien.Whilst pottering away at the place names for the evening’s dinner I was approached by Frank O’Keeffe and Sarah O’Connor to be asked the best question ever. “Where is your passport?” At home in Fairview – relief! It could have very well been in Cork. The next question, “Do you want to come to Vancouver in the morning?” To which I replied “Ah, ya!!!” Unfortunately, one of the Alumni had to pull out last minute, it was 4pm on Day 1, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I was in. Ecstatic would be an understatement. A couple of hours later I was on my way back to Fairview to get my things together to meet the rest of them at the crack of dawn the following morning at Dublin Airport. Come back Wednesday to read all about our exciting time in Vancouver.