An investment for the future

Like a good investment, the Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme continues to add value for the participants year in, year out

Jim Campion, chief executive, Campion Insurance: ‘2022 was the twelfth consecutive year Campion Insurance was named as one of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies’

In business, to survive for 15 years is an achievement. To thrive, develop and grow over a period as turbulent as the last 15 years is even more so. It is this achievement that unites the long-time winners of the Best Managed Companies Awards.

First held in 2008, the Ireland’s Best Managed Companies Awards Programme provides the business’s entire management team, not just chief executives, with an opportunity for individualised feedback from expert coaches, as well as mentoring, education and networking opportunities.

The awards programme, run by Deloitte Ireland in association with Bank of Ireland, recognises excellence in Irish/Northern Irish-owned and managed companies and is the only awards scheme on the island of Ireland to consider a business’s performance from every perspective. Each year, entrants compete in a rigorous process that evaluates the calibre of management abilities and practices, considering multiple factors across strategy, capability, innovation, culture and financial performance.

“Year on year, we’ve been impressed by the businesses in the Best Managed Companies Awards programme, and as we mark 15 years, we’re excited to be opening for entries to this year’s programme,” said Deloitte’s Brian Murphy, lead partner for the Awards Programme. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen great change in what constitutes a best managed company, but one trait we continue to see in successful businesses is their ability to adapt strategies based on their external environment.”

To put this in context, 15 years ago the financial crisis hit, and since then the world has endured a series of shocks impacting us all, from Brexit to the Covid-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruption, energy volatility, inflation, climate change, natural disasters and war in Ukraine.

Through all of this, businesses such as Joe Duffy Group and Campion Insurance have maintained their status as best managed companies, continuing the best practice, development and innovation that has differentiated them in their respective markets and on the island.

Brian Murphy, lead partner, Best Managed Companies Awards Programme Deloitte Ireland: ‘One trait we continue to see in successful businesses is their ability to adapt strategies based on their external environment.’ Picture by Fergal Phillips Photo by Fergal Phillips

“2022 was the twelfth consecutive year Campion Insurance was named as one of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies,” said Jim Campion, chief executive, Campion Insurance. “This is an immense achievement and recognition for the hard work and dedication by everyone in Campion Insurance. However, no business can rest on its past glories and being part of the BMC programme gives the management team an opportunity to get that most precious commodity ‘thinking time,’ as we look to build our strategy for the next three to five years.”

Joe Duffy Group won its award as a best managed company in 2012, a period where the group was growing and diversifying, through strategies validated by the awards programme, that would see it well into its second decade of continuous growth, continuing to this day.

Gavin Hydes, chief executive, Joe Duffy Group: ‘We followed old-fashioned investment principles.’ Picture: Barry Cronin

We grew significantly through 2009, after the financial crash, said Gavin Hydes, group chief executive. “We did that because we were doing the right things before then, evaluating business decisions based on the business opportunity. We followed old-fashioned investment principles,” said Hydes.

As the best managed companies programme helped validate early strategy and growth plans for Joe Duffy Group, Campion has also found it invaluable as the business went through major changes in recent times, becoming part of the PIB Group.

“Being part of the BMC programme has given us access to the teams in Deloitte and Bank of Ireland who have supported our strategy development and implementation, acting as an independent voice to challenge our thinking in key areas like innovation, governance, and culture,” said Campion.

Today, new entrants to the best managed companies awards programme are raising the bar. The more sophisticated the businesses are that come into the programme, the higher the bar and the expectation for governance and structures at the board level, said Deloitte’s Murphy.

“Long-time participants are maturing and developing their governance,” said Murphy, “and new entrants are bringing new standards too.”

“A challenge facing many businesses” said Murphy, is the battle for talent. He describes it as one of the biggest challenges for last year's cohort, finding “the people to do what they were planning”.

Both Campion and Hydes report that the Best Managed Companies recognition has been a boon in this regard.

“In today’s challenging recruitment market, being part of a globally recognised programme gives you an advantage over other businesses who are not part of the network,” said Campion.

“People at interview would sometimes remark on it and ask what it means”, reports Hydes, adding the award “can be a good badge to attract talent.”

Another benefit acknowledged by both chief executives was networking with the other companies who have achieved the accolade.

“The Best Managed Companies network has also been an invaluable benefit, to be able to engage with peers from different industries, learn from them and to offer advice in return is one of the main benefits of being part of the programme,” said Campion.

“We enjoy the company of other Best Managed Companies winners,” said Hydes, “and seeing the new entrants who are beginning their journeys. It’s good to see the progress of the other long-time participants.

“Feedback over the years has really brought to my attention the value of the networking opportunities the programme offers companies involved. We host a number of events throughout the year, with the aim to connect Best Managed Companies with one another in building relationships and partnerships as well as in sharing knowledge and experience,” said Brian Murphy.

To any company thinking of entering the awards programme, Hydes has some specific advice.

“Make sure your motivation is long term. Don't let your motivation be about the accolade. Make sure it is part of a long-term strategy to review, analyse and increase the standards of your organisation.”

Equally, Campion argues, a business gets out what it puts in.

“My advice to anyone applying to be part of the programme is straightforward — embrace the opportunity, the more you engage, the more you and your business will benefit from the programme.”

Applications for this year’s programme are open until Friday, February 24. For further information, visit deloitte.ie/bestmanaged