Chamber News

Michael OFlynn

Renowned Cork-based developer Michael O’Flynn, Chairman and CEO of the O’Flynn Group will take to the podium as guest speaker at the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme opening lunch in Faithlegg on Wednesday, 25th September.

Michael is a leading figure in the Irish and UK property sectors and is widely recognised for his experience and expertise. Over the course of the lunch, Michael will share his own story on how the O’Flynn Group, established in 1978 as a house building company, has progressed into one of the largest property development companies in Ireland with a strong reputation overseas particularly in the UK but also across Europe.

The lunch will mark the commencement of the third Regional Leaders Programme, which brings together mentors and participants for shared learning over the course of nine months, offering one to one mentoring, group masterclasses and inspiring speaker lunches.

Supported by Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Waterford Institute of Technology, the programme has seen over 150 people graduate over the past two years, who now form an exclusive alumni, and who continue to network and grow their contacts base.

Speaking about the programme, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “As we look to year three of the programme, we are encouraged with the level of engagement from the business community and it continues to grow year on year. This year we have more mentors, more masterclasses and more networking opportunities. The calibre of speakers we have lined up are exceptional, of course starting with Michael O’Flynn, while we also have Gerry Cahill, Managing Director of Roche Ireland Ltd. and Edwin Rohan, Head of EMEA and LATAM, Customer Success Acceleration Team at Google Ireland.

“We also have 45 mentors for our participants to choose who all have a wealth of experience in their own fields, so whether you are a start-up, business owner, senior manager or climbing the ladder, there are mentors on the programme to cater for all.

“With the professional expertise of our partners Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Waterford Institute of Technology, this programme is designed to develop our future leaders and put a focus on succession planning, which is critical to the future success of the region.”

The cost, which is already minimal at €350 per participant, is being reduced further by 25% with thanks to funding from Waterford Chamber Skillnet.

To learn more about the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme, please contact Lynda Lawton or Kelly Cummins on 051 872639.

Skillnet Strategy Survey

Skillnet Ireland is committing to more ambitious actions in meeting Ireland’s workforce challenges.
We are urging employers, employees, industry groups, regional groups, the general public and all interested parties to have their say in informing our new Statement of Strategy 2020-2024.

The purpose of this open public consultation is to build an effective and robust strategy that is both dynamic and resilient in an ever-changing marketplace. We invite all our stakeholders and members of the public to input to the development of our strategy, that will not only support future economic development but will bring real results to employees and enterprise at a regional and sectoral level, building on the progress achieved under our strategy for 2016-2019.

Have your say by clicking here to visit our dedicated page.

This new strategy will seek to articulate a vision for Ireland’s Workforce Development and set out strategic goals and targets for Skillnet Ireland. Read the full press release over on our website.


Waterford Chamber’s second Regional Leaders Programme drew to a close at Faithlegg as the mentors and participants came together one last time for a networking lunch.

Guest speaker chef Paul Flynn of the Tannery and Waterford Ambassador of the Year spoke about his own personal journey in business, having left Dungarvan at the tender age of 18 and returning from the highs of running Michelin starred restaurants to going it alone. In a witty and frank presentation of the life of the self-employed, Paul spoke of the highs and lows and the constant need to do better.

“There’s no doubt it was tough and there were very lean years along the way but my wife Maire and myself had a vision to create a restaurant that offered great food in my home town that appealed to locals and visitors alike.

“You have to be driven to always want more, to be better and you need a bit of luck thrown in. For me that bit of luck came when I was asked to write for the Irish Times. From there came the books and TV shows and while I never sought out the limelight, in some ways it was what saved us. As people began to travel to our restaurant, the constant need to better the offering took hold and from that came the Townhouse and Cookery School.”

As one of Waterford’s most famous sons, Paul says his success is in no small part to the incredible chefs and mentors who inspired and guided him along the way.

While the second programme drew to a close, Waterford Chamber President Jonathan Earl also announced details of the third programme, which is due to begin in September, and will see participants from year one and two still very much involved in the programme.

“Having been mentored and having mentored others for years, I know how important a programme like this is. We all need someone to turn to for advice, to share ideas and to confide in. It’s that shared learning experience which helps us all to grow and develop within our chosen careers. We are delighted to have two of our three speakers already confirmed for next year – Gerry Cahill of Roche and Google’s Edwin Rowan and we look forward to the Regional Leaders network growing with our new participants in September, alongside our alumni.”

Partners Bausch + Lomb played a pivotal role in developing the programme and speaking at the lunch, Head of HR Mark Fitzgerald said: “People and relationships make the positive difference. This programme is all about improving us as leaders and people.

“Building a support network across a wide variety of businesses where participants can leverage from the experience and knowledge of the mentors and mentees is a key part of the Regional Leaders Programme.”


Responding to the need to develop a pipeline of future leaders in the South East region, Waterford Chamber, with the support of Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Institute of Technology and Waterford Chamber Skillnet, designed the Regional Leaders Programme to develop business leaders for the future through mentorship and skills sharing.

The programme is aimed at professionals who want to develop their leadership skills or for companies who would like to increase the capacity of their internal talent pool to ensure the next generation of their company is in safe hands.

The third Regional Leaders Programme gets underway in September, offering one to one mentoring sessions, group mentoring masterclasses and inspiring speaker lunches. For more information please contact Lynda Lawton or Kelly Cummins on 051 872639.

Waterford AirportWaterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley has welcomed the announcement of €5 million in funding for the lengthening and widening of Waterford Airport’s runway, saying it is “a great day for Waterford and the wider region”.

“Waterford Chamber has long championed the development of Waterford Airport on behalf of our members and to see it finally come to fruition gives great hope for the future development of Waterford and the wider region.

“It is also encouraging to see the collaboration between public and private enterprises to ensure a timely delivery, which is a first in regional aviation in Ireland. We have worked closely with Conor McCarthy of Leadcom Ltd through our Regional Leaders Programme and his successes speak for themselves. With him at the helm, along with the experience of Noel Frisby of Frisby Construction, and the influence of our leading industries like Dawn Meats, EirGen Pharma, Red Hat and all those we have engaged with to lobby for the Airport, it will certainly contribute significantly to the economic life of the region.

“At a recent meeting with An Taoiseach, we detailed the urgency in securing funding for Waterford Airport, stating Waterford has some of the top companies in the world but accessibility is a major issue for international executives. We also reiterated that there were private investors waiting to move on developing the airport and that the funding from Government is the final piece of the puzzle, to which the Taoiseach responded: “If private investors and County Councils are willing to risk their money, the government will not be found wanting”.

“The work/life balance on offer in Waterford is our strongest selling point and now with accessibility and a strong focus on the tourism sector, the Airport is an integral cog in the wheel of promoting Waterford as a great destination to live, work, invest in and do business.”

The investment will secure the future of Waterford Airport and allow it to compete for international carriers using jet engine aircraft. The runway, when extended from its existing length of 1,433 metres to 2,280 metres, will be able to accommodate large commercial passenger aircraft such as Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s.

The remaining €7 million euro for the project will be met by regional private investment and local authorities in Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford, who have committed funding of €5 million and €2 million respectively in return for an equity shareholding in Waterford Airport, subject to the approval of the existing shareholders at their upcoming EGM.

RLP WIT May 2019Waterford Chamber’s Regional Leaders Programme received a huge endorsement this week as they are set to partner with Waterford Institute of Technology’s School of Business.

WIT and Waterford Chamber are collaborating to provide further professional development opportunities for participants of the Chamber Regional Leaders Programme. Under this initiative, participants who join the Regional Leaders Programme will have the opportunity to choose a Level 8 management development programme that will be delivered in association with WIT Business School.

Interested applicants who meet the entry requirements can choose either a one semester Certificate in Management Development/Certificate in Project Management or, alternatively, a two semester Higher Diploma in Business in Management. These WIT programmes will provide opportunities for participants to build on their leadership, mentoring and networking skills and open new pathways for further professional development and growth.

Speaking about the collaboration, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “As we look towards launching the third year of the Regional Leaders Programme in September, it is fantastic to receive such positive support and endorsement from WIT. This programme is built around collaboration, with our partners Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Bausch + Lomb. They have been instrumental in guiding the programme to the level it is at right now. From year one to two, we enjoyed 40% growth and would expect a further increase in year if early indications are anything to go by.

“Having WIT promote our programme gives it additional strength and recognises the importance of developing our future leaders. Year three will see more mentors join the programme, an exceptional offering of masterclasses and inspiring speaker lunches, so we would encourage anybody looking to develop their network and learn from the best to get in touch with us.”

Prof. Denis Harrington, Head of Graduate Business at WIT said: “We are pleased to be collaborating with the Chamber on this new initiative. Participants of the Regional Leaders Programme will now have a pathway to continue their studies and, subject to meeting the entry requirements for the relevant WIT programme, can look to take either our Level 8 Certificate in Management Development programme or Certificate in Project Management programme part-time over one semester or our Level 8 Higher Diploma in Business in Management programme part-time over the academic year. These short executive WIT programmes aim to prepare candidates to perform effectively at an executive level and contribute to the management of their organisation’s policies with clarity, consistency and capability. Flexibly delivered and using online and blended learning approaches, the programmes will be ideally suited to meet the needs of busy professionals.”

To find out more about the Regional Leaders Programme, please contact Lynda Lawton or Kelly Cummins on 051 872639.

AGM 2019 Photo

Jonathan Earl, owner of B2B Communications, was elected President of Waterford Chamber at the 232nd AGM in the Granville Hotel last night (Monday, May 27th).

Jonathan has been involved with Waterford Chamber since joining the retail committee in 1996, became a director in 2000 and subsequently returned to directorship in 2014. He is chair of the Chamber’s Connectivity, Infrastructure and Development Policy Advisory Panel and the Chambers Ireland representative on the Programme Monitoring Committee of the Ireland-Wales Programme.

Addressing Waterford Chamber members, he said: “In the 25 years I’ve worked in Waterford I have witnessed significant changes in our city and county. Waterford has emerged from being an industrial city to a post-industrial climate with the evolution of our tourism offering, service industry and the growth of our tech, pharma and life-science sectors.

“In the last fifteen years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all sectors and all sizes of business. B2B Communications has tracked the changes in industry in Waterford and the South East. Ours is a business which is a weather vane for consumer and business confidence, and we’ve seen how within certain sectors Waterford’s self-assurance has grown. This needs to spread across the whole of Waterford and the Chamber has a role in this evolution.

“I have spent my adult life attempting to interpret and communicate messages, and today I find myself in a role, in an organisation, in a City where now more than ever a confident, consistent and positive message is required.

“We all have our roles to play, Waterford Chamber, Waterford City & County Council, businesses, home grown or foreign direct. We have all chosen to live, work and do business here.

“Waterford has a proud business tradition, but in recent decades has lost its confidence. Over the last few years there has been significant investment in Waterford, hundreds of millions and there are hundreds of millions more to be invested over the next number of years. This is a time to restore that confidence, but as with life, its cannot be restored from without, confidence must come from within.

“Waterford Chamber will play its part, but it requires a consistent, confident message from all stakeholders, large and small. And it requires partnership and collective responsibility from within for confidence and success to be restored.”

Outgoing President Kathryn Kiely thanked Chamber members, staff and fellow Chamber Directors for their support. “During the year what was particularly striking to me was the willingness of members and business leaders to participate and give of their time, be it on voicing their views directly to Government, engaging in a dialogue on the role of regional cities and their vision for Waterford, mentoring future business leaders and participating in a series of workshops to help shape the development of Waterford Chamber’s Strategic Plan 2019—2022. I would like to thank all our members for their continual engagement, sharing of ideas, experiences and knowledge.

“Through this process, informed by members, we have set out our values as an organisation and strategic objectives for the coming four years. Our members are at the heart of what Waterford Chamber is about. We represent a diverse range of business sectors and organisational profiles from the individual entrepreneur to large multinationals. We are ambitious for our city and Region and are collaborative in our approach advocating on behalf of our community and enhancing our capacity as a City Region. We are progressive and innovative in the priorities we set and the programmes we plan.”

Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley re-iterated this by reporting that Chamber is performing better than it has in years, confirming that membership was growing and Chamber is in a very solid position to develop going forward.

Speaking at the AGM, Gerald said: “On a day when we are all talking about the local and European elections and eager to hear the mandates that follow, it is fitting that this evening we also launch our own Strategic Plan for the coming years.

“Working collectively has never been more important, whether it is with our members, stakeholder groups or with our elected officials, as we all strive for the same vision – to ensure a vibrant economic environment for the Waterford we choose to love, learn, work and do business in.

“Our mission is clear – to be the voice of business in Waterford, dedicated to supporting, promoting and advocating for our members while being the catalyst for creating a vibrant and sustainable economy. In an ever-changing landscape, we must all do our part, starting by getting the message right.”

As the meeting concluded, Danette Connolly, Home Instead Senior Care and John McSweeney, AIB Bank were deemed elected as Deputy President and Vice-President respectively.

Join President Jonathan Earl at Waterford Chamber’s President’s Lunch on Friday, June 21st in the Majestic Hotel, Tramore, where Irish Times Editor Paul O’Neill will make the keynote address. For bookings contact Lynda Lawton on 051 311130 or see

Paul O Neill Editor Irish Times

Paul O’Neill, Editor of the Irish Times, will make a welcome return to his native county for the Waterford Chamber President’s Lunch, which takes place on Friday, 21st June in the beautiful surroundings of the Majestic Hotel in Tramore.

During the mid-summer lunch event, which is sponsored by AIB Bank, guests will enjoy a sumptuous meal, preceded by a drinks reception compliments of Legacy Irish Cider.

Always a popular corporate event on the Waterford Chamber calendar, the President’s Lunch sees the coming together of business owners and executives for an informal gathering and sharing of ideas.

Incoming President Jonathan Earl said he is very much looking forward to hearing Paul’s story from local journalist to editor of Ireland’s leading newspaper.

“I have spent my adult life attempting to interpret and communicate messages, and today I find myself in a role, in an organisation, in a city where now more than ever a confident, consistent and positive message is required. The media plays an integral part in delivering that message and it will be interesting to hear how Waterford is perceived on the national media agenda.”

Speaking in advance of the event, Paul said he looked forward to getting a better sense of the challenges facing Waterford at a time of such momentous change at home and abroad. “It’s not a question of me coming home because I don’t feel I ever went away. But some, no doubt, will see me as an outsider and perhaps there’s a different perspective that comes with that.”

Event sponsor Marian Keane of AIB Homes said: “This is our second year sponsoring the President’s Lunch, which we view as an important event for the business community to network and take time out to engage with peers.”

Paul O’Neill was appointed Editor of The Irish Times in April 2017. He has had a long and varied career with the company, having joined in 1989 as London Correspondent. Over 30 years, he has been a news reporter, Crime Correspondent, Deputy News Editor, Finance Editor, Editorial Director and Deputy Editor.

In more recent years, he has played a central role in the transformation of The Irish Times into a digital publisher.

Paul began his career as a reporter with the Waterford News & Star in 1982 and subsequently joined the then Cork Examiner in 1989.

The acquisition by The Irish Times last July of the Irish Examiner, the Echo and a number of regional titles, including the Waterford News & Star, has brought his journalistic career under one umbrella and brought him back to the place where it all began almost four decades ago.

Tickets for the lunch are €65 including VAT and can be booked by contacting Lynda Lawton on 051 311130 or online at here.

RLP Michael Doherty

‘One More Attempt’ was the theme of Michael Doherty’s address at the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme Inspiring Lunch talk at the Majestic Hotel.

In front of a large crowd, the Cheekpoint native and CEO of Woodbrook Group said: “Fear and failure are indicators you’re on the right road, not roadblocks. The more you handle your fear and accept failure and move forward, the more you continue creating entrepreneurial vision and graft, the more you will come to appreciate important errors.”

Having started his own mobile phone company at just 16, Michael went on to have many successes and failures along the way and spoke about how hitting rock bottom while sleeping in a Metro Station in Moscow made him realise the only way was up and to give it one more try.

This led to the foundation of the Woodbrook Group just over five years ago, which he has led through a period of significant international expansion and he is now considered one of the '100 Most Influential People in the Global Financial Services Sector' by the respected International Advisor publication.

Things have come full circle for Michael as he is now looking to expand his European operations in Ireland, having just secured a new company in Galway, which will be re-located and expanded right here in Waterford, under separate to the Woodbrook operation.

He has full confidence in the Waterford of the future and in its entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“There are no limits to the Waterford’s next millennium of opportunities because we are world class, and that is reflective in the investment flowing into the region at present. We have survived underfunding, marginalisation, and dismissal. We created the new future Waterford out of consistent campaigning for infrastructure, links and development funding.

“The seeds not just of economic recovery, regeneration and renewal are sprouting in Waterford today. Waterford’s global engagements – Crystal Valley Tech, the emergence of vibrant tech and pharma hubs, the world class development at North Quays – are fully representative of the new way of working and the new way of succeeding. Waterford is returning to its roots as a global trader of excellence. Entrepreneurship and the further shore are in our DNA. There are no barriers to the entrepreneur, only obstacles leading to opportunities.”

Speaking at the event, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said, it is these opportunities we must now grasp with both hands.

“It is companies of international repute, working with our own indigenous companies, which will make Waterford great again and we all have a responsibility to work together to achieve that common goal. 

“By supporting Waterford Chamber through membership and initiatives like the Regional Leaders Programme, we in turn can support you, by working on your behalf to be the voice of business in Waterford. By coming together the business community is a powerful voice and one we are proud to champion and advocate for.”

This was the last Inspiring speaker lunch before the programme’s closing lunch on June 19th in Faithlegg with Waterford Ambassador of the Year and renowned chef Paul Flynn. Expressions of interest and applications are now being accepting for year three of the Regional Leaders Programme, which is designed to develop leaders for the future in the South East Region. It is aimed at professionals who want to develop their leadership competencies and will benefit companies seeking to increase the capacity of their internal talent pool.

The programme runs monthly from September to June and incorporates practical guidance on leadership styles, problem-solving and key recommendations during 1:1 mentoring sessions. Mastermind workshops and speaker lunches create opportunities for programme participants to engage with Regional Leaders colleagues and expand their network.

The programme is supported by Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Waterford Institute of Technology.

For more information, contact Lynda Lawton or Kelly Cummins on 051 872639.

Ahead of local and European elections taking place on 24th May, Waterford Chamber is calling on voters to support candidates who are committed to realising a long-term vision for Waterford.

According to Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley, there has never been a more important time to vote. “I would urge everybody to exercise their right to vote on 24th May. It is imperative that we select candidates on a local and European level who can drive the Waterford agenda. Local government make decisions on housing, transport and infrastructure, and these decisions shape our daily lives. More significantly, decisions that are made at European level dictate the choices our governments can make across a wide range of issues, from trade to agriculture to regulation. We must not underestimate the opportunity we have before us on the 24th May to elect representatives who will work to build a prosperous, sustainable Waterford.

“It is critical we have the right voices heard locally and in Europe who will fight to improve planning, secure investment for our city and county and support the delivery of the objectives set out in the National Planning Framework.

“As a business community, we will drive the economy of our city but as we outlined recently to An Taoiseach Leo Varadker, we need the infrastructure to do so. We need you to support us, so we in turn can support you. We need strong voices locally, nationally and in Europe to achieve that. Working together, we can drive Waterford forward, create sustainable jobs, spend more money locally and ultimately grow our businesses and economy for the betterment of all.”

Chambers Ireland is the national voice of Ireland’s largest business network. Our network has the broadest geographic presence, reaching towns and cities across the country. As a network, we want to see sustainable communities thrive in locally vibrant economic environments. A fast, national, reliable broadband network is a prerequisite for this.

Speaking following the Cabinet’s decision to appoint a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Our network of Chambers are aligned in their view that access to reliable high-speed broadband is an economic necessity. Broadband is essential infrastructure for the 21st century and it is already as important to our professional and personal lives as the telephone network was at the end of the 20th century. A community without broadband today is as disconnected from the wider economy as the communities without electricity were in 1945.

If flexible and remote working is to become a lived reality for people in all parts of the country, then it is conditional on broadband being available in their homes. The alternative is economic stagnation, long commutes and regional decline, all of which contribute to poorer quality of life, lower productivity and a bigger carbon footprint.

Government policy itself has effectively made access to broadband mandatory. Many public and business related services now have an online dimension, despite the absence of broadband in so many parts of the country. This alone makes a clear case for increased, sustained public investment in broadband infrastructure. The economic benefits make national broadband access a necessity.

However, in respect of Government action on broadband, for this investment to be worthwhile it will need to be capable of delivering ever faster speeds exceeding 1,000 megabits per second. A network which does not meet that need will not be future-proofed and will not be capable of delivering for communities and local economies in the years to come."


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What Our Members Say

"Both Waterford Chamber and Bausch + Lomb understand the importance of leadership for the achievement of business success. Working with Waterford Chamber on the Regional Leaders Programme demonstrates just how effective it can be to come together and work collaboratively. The Regional Leaders Programme provides an opportunity to share our talents and expertise with the motivation to really ‘make things happen’."

Jackie Roche, Learning + Organisational Development Manager, Bausch + Lomb




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