Ireland News

Reset & Recover: Leading Global Companies in 2021

An Enterprise Ireland webinar speaks to leaders from manufacturing, transportation, and digital technologies about how lessons learned during the pandemic will shape business for years to come. 

Recently Enterprise Ireland presented a webinar panel discussion titled, Reset & Recover: Leading Global Companies in 2021. The discussion was hosted by Sara Hill, the Head of Southern US & Mexico at Enterprise Ireland, based in Austin, Texas.

The panel conversation, moderated by Shelly Slater, a multi Emmy Award-winning news anchor, and reporter, and the Founder of Shelly Slater Strategies, focused on the fruitful history of Ireland and U.S. business relationships; as well as a look to lessons learned from 2020 and a discussion of what 2021 and “the new norm” may hold.

The panel included:

Darryl E Peek II, Head of Federal Strategic Partnerships, Google

Terri Von Lehmden, Vice President Human Resources, Toyota North America, and 

Paul Puopolo, Executive Vice President of Innovation, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

This insightful webinar was supported by the Austin Technology Council; the DEC in Dallas; the University of Texas, at Dallas, and the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The discussion began with opening remarks from Daniel Mulhall, Ireland Ambassador to the U.S., and was closed by a statement from Claire McCarthy, Ireland Consulate General, for Austin, Texas.

“The last year has been exceptional. We haven’t been able to connect in the way that we would normally. However, we’ve still seen a significant number of Irish companies coming into the American market for the first time — despite the barriers created by the pandemic and the restrictions on travel,” said Daniel Mulhall, Ireland Ambassador to the U.S. “In 2019, Enterprise Ireland-supported companies recorded sales of nearly $5 billion in the United States, and that journey continues. I look forward to hearing the views of the distinguished panel of experts assembled here.”

Slater began the webinar by asking the panel for examples of challenges in 2020 that have helped them prepare for moving forward, and how the lessons learned now present unique opportunities.

When the pandemic hit, we didn’t know how to sift through what this impact could be, so our manufacturing locations all across North America had to shut down for six weeks. From there, we had to quickly figure out how to ramp back up and bring key team members back in a safe way,” said Terri Von Lehmden, Vice President Human Resources, Toyota North America. “We created a manufacturing playbook, which we’re able to deliver to the community and other OEMs and suppliers and our key stakeholders so they could replicate what we were doing in-house.”

“One thing we’re seeing a lot of, especially in state and local government, is around vaccine management. Vaccines tools are needed to facilitate delivery to our citizens, so being able to provide solutions and being able to provide the engineering support for these solutions to be rolled out with our partner communities is a top focus area right now,” said Darryl E Peek II, Head of Federal Strategic Partnerships, Google. “There’s also going to be a shift to getting folks back into the office, based on the new priorities of the administration. Being able to position vaccine management as a solution for our customers is very important, and we’re looking to expedite an ability to help citizens get vaccinated.”

“For us, our priority has always been about safety and security. But at the same time, we have to think about the customer experience. Right now, we’re looking to digital technologies to help support a contactless experience. Everybody wants things touchless,” said Paul Puopolo, Executive Vice President of Innovation, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. “And at the same time, we’re using digital technologies to become a smarter airport. How do we use data and technology, and sensors to make us more resilient in the future? This pandemic showed us where there were opportunities for us to be more proactive. It will be interesting to see how technology meets customer needs and how customer behaviors have changed over the last 13 months.”

The webinar covered other topics in detail, including technology, work-from-home strategies, the importance of business partnerships, channel management, and elevating the customer experience to meet new consumer expectations.

Claire McCarthy, Ireland Consulate General for Austin, closed out the webinar with these observations.

“What we saw today is something that I get to see in Texas every single day: generosity of spirit, a generosity with knowledge, and a real willingness to see other people do well and to see other companies succeed. I want to thank the panel so much for sharing their insights and to Shelly for steering the ship,” said McCarthy. “We saw many important themes today focused on respecting people and how people are the necessary ingredient to drive success. In Ireland, we constantly say that our people are our greatest asset — and that’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

To view the entire 60-minute webinar, please visit: 

Note: Participant quotes above have been paraphrased and edited for brevity. 

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