In Profile: Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Ottawa

Ireland-Canada Chambers of Commerce Ottawa Jackie Gilna Ottawa

For the second in our series of ICCC profiles, we catch up with Jackie Gilna, President of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce Ottawa

Describe ICCCOTT and what its all about…

In cooperation with the Irish and Canadian business community, ICCCOTT established in 2010 promotes and supports programs that focus on trade and investment including sports, culture, and education as they relate to economic growth. We provide networking opportunities for members by organizing events with high profile speakers.  Additionally, we support the business community representing member’s business views before the Irish and Canadian governments in Dublin and Ottawa.

We are committed to resourcefully connecting people and helping foster relationships to further business opportunities and help deepen economic ties between our two countries.

Please describe one of ICCCOTT’s members

We are fortunate to have one of Canada’s most decorated Irish entrepreneurs and leader in our community, businessman Pat Kelly (Galway), Director Community Affairs ICCCOTT. Pat is a recipient of the inaugural Presidential Distinguished Service Award 2012, and founder of the Gales. His success with the Heart and Crown group, construction group Bradley-Kelly and many other business interests is an example to all that hard work, focus, drive, and ambition drive results.

From the beginning of his journey in Canada Pat helped so many who came to Ottawa with a roof over their head, a job to get them started and introductions to help create their opportunities. He is a true example to all. It is often said the Irish abroad do not support each other in business. Not Pat Kelly, he set the bar and leads by example!

What originally brought you to Ottawa?

I spent many of my adult years in the Netherlands. Before leaving I was involved in the Dutch Oil &Gas, Aviation, Marine and Fire Fighting training sector as Managing Director and sat as Director on the Board of Directors for Merger& Acquisitions.

I thrive on challenge and felt ready for a change. It was a family decision and so we moved from the Netherlands via Ireland (nine months) to Ottawa, my Canadian husband’s hometown where his mother, a west-coaster, still lives.

I had no thoughts other than to take a sabbatical and see what inspired me on the next step of life’s journey. The journey subsequently morphed into two acquisitions ripe for management restructuring and two start ups in the tech sector.

Ottawa is a very safe city with a growing international community, tech hubs, talent and  home to the largest employer in the country, the Federal government. We have access to great health care, housing and activities. Yes, the winters get very cold, but the warmth of our great Irish Canadian and local community compensates for the long weeks of boots and tukes!

Why should Irish companies consider Ottawa?

Ottawa has affordable housing costs in comparison to other major Canadian cities.  We are a tech hub with over 1.3m people and 1,750 knowledge-based business employing over 68k people. We boast innovative talent, highly competitive business costs, incubator hubs such as Invest Ottawa and L- Spark, and access to the Embassies of the world to establish international opportunities. Not bad for our small Nation’s capital! And did I mention, it’s only 16 km to the ski slopes?

What are your key pieces of advice for Irish companies starting to do business in this city?

As we are in the nation’s capital Ottawa, a few simple rules to follow are: take the time to build relationships. Be punctual, give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and opportunity will follow.

What’s next for ICCCOTT?

ICCCOTT continue to grow with representatives from predominately three sectors: Legal, Financial Services and Tech.  We enjoy and are grateful for the support of the business community, the Embassy and our Chamber colleagues throughout Canada. We are excited and look forward to a unique event happening in this fall, an ICCCOTT initiative which will bring together the first Pan-Canadian Chamber meeting with guests ICBA and other parties in September 2019.

Check out part 1 of our series of Ireland-Canada Chamber profiles with Lar Quigley of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver

Company Profile: Sovy

SovyJohn Popolizio

Describe your company in 60 words or less

Sovy is the one-stop-shop for simplifying business compliance, providing cloud-based regulatory compliance solutions for Micro and Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) around the world.  Sovy’s affordable subscription services enable a MSME to get compliant and stay compliant with privacy, conduct and anti-fraud regulations for a fraction of the cost of bringing in high-priced experts.

Why did you decide to set up a base in Ireland?

We chose Ireland as our base of operations in the fall of 2017 because of the great support system for high-tech start-ups and deep professional talent base. Crucially, Ireland also has a wide array of international trading partners, so having a base here can create major opportunities to do business with SME’s in several other countries, including Canada.

What has been the most positive aspect of doing business in Ireland?

Ireland is both people and business friendly, and there is a general positive can-do attitude that makes growing a business quite exciting.

What has been your single greatest challenge to date (of operating in Ireland), and how have you approached overcoming it?

The landscape is complex in terms of where to set up operations, and weigh the different areas, talent pools, partnerships and the like.  We have been working with Enterprise Ireland (EI), the Local Enterprise Office in Meath County and trade groups to make informed choices. EI has also been invaluable when it comes to learning about Ireland’s key trading partners and opportunities to scale Sovy by working with companies internationally.

What key piece of advice would you give to a Canadian company thinking of setting up in Ireland?

Take the time to meet the government and public-private partnerships that are set up to help your business become established and known and avail yourself of the many supports those organisations offer. Key organisations that you will want to connect with include Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, and groups like the Ireland Canada Business Association.

In Profile: Ireland-Canada Chambers of Commerce Vancouver

Vancouver Chamber of CommerceVancouver Chamber Lar Quigley

For the first in our series of ICCC profiles, we’re joined by Lar Quigley, President of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver (ICCCVan).

Describe ICCCVan’s genesis and mission

The founding members recognised there was limited support and networking opportunities for the growing Irish community here in the city and sought to address this by establishing a formal chamber.

The Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver (ICCCVan) was subsequently incorporated in late 2017. Initially we had three board members and have since expanded to ten with an all island approach and mandated gender balance.

We support our members by providing them opportunities to hear from senior leaders in the community as well as participate through networking events, roundtables and educational sessions.

ICCCVan maintains close links with our sister chapters across Canada, as well as the Irish Embassy in Ottawa.

Tell us a bit about your membership

We have so many amazing members here at the Chamber, but some interesting entrepreneurial ones have come from Bia Foods (Siobhan Young) and Donnellan’s (William Donnellan) whom both spotted opportunities to better serve the Irish community and have grown impressively in the food and hospitality sectors over the years.
From a general overview, our member’s industry breakdown is reflective of the economy here in the province with remainder mostly composing of professional services.

• 30% Technology
• 25% Natural Resources
• 15% Construction/Engineering

Can you point to an example of a member that started out very small and has grown successfully in Vancouver?

Moving2Canada.com is a great example. Since launching in 2012 by Ruairi Spillane, the website has been a one-stop shop for free impartial information and resources to make the transition to Canada enjoyable and simple for prospective immigrants and the recently arrived.

They offer job postings, a ‘getting started’ guide’ and articles covering every step of the journey. Their social forums service thousands of community members.

Ruairi’s accomplishments were recognized on a broader scaler recently when he took home the Immigrant Entrepreneur at the Small BC Business Awards here in Vancouver. Ruairi recently launched Moving2Ireland.com with the idea of bringing the same concept to help both new immigrants to Ireland and returning emigrants.

What brought you to Vancouver?

I had made the decision to leave Ireland when I saw some of the early signs of the recession in 2008 and on a whim applied for a Canadian working holiday visa.

I had visited Ontario/Quebec on a vacation in 2006 so that had planted some seeds and gave me a sense of what to expect from a cultural perspective.

Toronto was my original focus as it’s the country’s financial hub and I had a background in treasury banking from Dublin. It was my mother who randomly recommended Vancouver, she had been here at a conference in the 80s and so I opted to start here – ten years later I’m living two blocks from where I started.

What advice would you give to an Irish company starting to do business in Vancouver?

Vancouverites value relationships and the city has a village like feel to it with a compact downtown core. The work style, whilst focused, is more laid back than you’ll find in Dublin and this is driven by having such easy access to the mountains and beaches in the city.

Why Vancouver? Top three things that make this city so great.

Vancouver is Canada’s fasted growing and most diverse metropolitan economy. There are significant opportunities for growth and development in the region. British Columbia has a long history of pioneering technological innovation and has a world class creative and digital media sector.

From a top three perspective:

1. Most liveable and healthiest city in North American.
2. Number 5 on KPMG’s most tax competitive world cities
3. Canada’s number one start-up ecosystem

Anything else you would like to add?

We’re excited to build on our launch momentum to host an upcoming ministerial visit (Ciaran Canon) for the St Patrick’s week festivities.

A special note of thanks to our friends at the Embassy in Ottawa and the new Consulate team here in Vancouver for all their invaluable support.