Today Dr. Kelley gave us a tour of the financial district and “Silicon Docks,” Ireland’s own version of Silicon Valley. He described the Irish education system and how it has evolved over the years as well as the impacts of economic disasters like the house market crash. Once the education system had been refined, more young people were pursuing degrees and accepting high-paying jobs. Unfortunately, the house market crash and other related socio-economic issues halted the progress that Ireland’s economy had made. Luckily, several multinational companies moved to Ireland for the low business tax, young working population and available retail space. While I was very interested in the history Dr. Kelley shared with us, what I found most interesting was the way he described the Irish people and their role in business. He identified the Irish business professional as the “middle man,” often found in a management or liaison position. The Irish person’s people skills, peace-keeping mentality and warm nature make them the perfect fit for a management position. This, Dr. Kelley suggests, is what makes Ireland and its people so valuable to global business.
The distinction between new and old Ireland is very apparent around the city of Dublin. For every modern, familiar structure that you see, there is a historical landmark nearby. Some of the office buildings have even repurposed original warehouse pieces in their renovations. Overall, every Irish person that we have talked to attests to the immense growth and development of Ireland over time. That said, it is also obvious how proud the Irish are of their history. So while new Ireland has driven the country’s growth, old Ireland continues to impact the country and its future.
Our site visit at ThinkHouse really put the concept of new Ireland into perspective. This innovative, youth focused marketing agency is entirely focused on connecting their clients to younger generations. They think outside the box and are not afraid to take risks because they know that their fearlessness will be rewarded in the long run. This approach can propose some challenges, as some clients may not be receptive to such crazy, unique ideas. ThinkHouse will need to prove themselves so that client’s are willing to follow their lead. Similarly, being so youth focused can lead to difficulty connecting with the older generations of Ireland who are so deep rooted in “old Ireland.” This age group may even have control over the younger target audience’s decisions. That said, ThinkHouse’s dedication to youth separates them from other agencies and gives them a competitive advantage.
My takeaway from today is that Ireland thrives in the center. They are growing as a country from a position in between old and new Ireland, utilizing their past to propel themselves forward. Additionally, they perceive themselves as “middle men,” in business, politics and society, which makes them smart and confident leaders. This concept of falling somewhere “in between” connects back to the well-rounded student I wanted to be at the end of this experience. Positioning yourself in the middle rather than in one area of expertise or in one social group makes you more valuable as an individual, both professionally and generally.