The Day of the Conference

Find below reaction, pictures, and copies of the GDPR & Brexit Breakout sessions from the Conference!

Storytelling, Networking and Breakouts in Citywest


The 2017 Annual Conference took place in a vibrant Citywest Hotel on Friday 3rd November. We were delighted with the strong attendance - over 300 delegates: a busy exhibition area with almost 50 exhibitors; and booked-out workshops on ‘GDPR’ and ‘Brexit’. An Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald opened the conference speaking about the importance of storytelling and the need for business to be Brexit-ready.

Commenting on the conference ISME CEO Neil McDonnell said: “Friday’s conference was a great opportunity for business to showcase their products and network with likeminded individuals. The theme for this year’s conference was a way of showing businesses the importance of growing their own business through the power of storytelling. Exhibitor and delegate feedback on the conference theme has been hugely positive.”

Speakers included Michael Cawley (Failte Ireland), Cillian Fennel (Stillwater Communications), John McGrane (Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce), and Siobhan O’Connor (Codex Office Solutions). Breakout sessions focused on ‘Preparing business for ‘GDPR’ and Brexit’. Wild Orchard were the winners of the Sean Hannick SME Award. The day finished up with a lively debate on ‘SMEs & New Socialism’ with Anne-Marie McNally (Social Democrats), Jim O’Leary (Economist), Ian Kehoe (Sunday Business Post) and Mannix Flynn (Councillor).

In her opening address, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD spoke about the importance of businesses being Brexit-ready, she said: “A key function of my Department is to support businesses as they innovate and diversify their trading opportunities, a role which is particularly important in the context of Brexit, domestic and global challenges. “This Government and my Department wants businesses to succeed. We want to develop and encourage a business ecosystem that is fair and rewarding to those businesspeople taking the risks. SMEs employ over 70% of all employees in the State. “We recognise small business is the backbone of this economy. We value your work. The Government values your work. And we are listening".

Michael Cawley Chairman of Fáilte Ireland encouraged business to embrace the theme of storytelling; he spoke of the importance of recruiting not the smartest people, but the people with a great attitude. He highlighted the significance of the tourism industry in Ireland and spoke of the important role Irish people have in selling ‘brand Ireland’.

John McGrane Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce spoke about the impact of Brexit on the Irish economy, and encouraged all people within society to play an active role in creating a positive story from Brexit. He said “The crises of Brexit needs to be navigated by all, not just politicians”. He encouraged business to take the necessary steps to turn the threat of Brexit into an opportunity.

Director of Stillwater Communications Cillian Fennell gave a very motivational and inspiring talk on storytelling. He spoke about the need for businesses to utilise their own personal business story. He said “Stories are instruments of belief. Facts are what we know, truth is what we believe. Belief and backing is based on how you tell your story.”

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation of the Sean Hannick SME Award. This year’s winner was Wild Orchard. The award itself focused on business, community, innovation and one’s long-term commitment to their community. Wild Orchard were very worthy winners on the day.

Date for your diary: the next ISME Annual Conference will take place on Wednesday 21st November in the Citywest Hotel.

See highlights of the 2017 Conference

Presentations from our Breakout Sessions

Click on each of the below thumbnails to see the full version.



For more information, please contact Niall Rooney, FP Logue Solicitors, here.



For more information, please contact Mark Sterritt, InterTradeIreland, here.

Photos from the day