I think when somebody asks you to do something that is challenging and you are a little bit afraid, just step up if you can, because if they believe in you, you should too.
The ratios have improved since Creely was in college in the 1980s, but levels are still below 30pc.
“You know, it’s a shame, really, because it’s a fantastic profession to go into and there are a lot more options in engineering today than there was in my day,” she says. After college, she went to Guyana in South America, joining that same brother who was working for Guyana Airways. She taught maths and music there for a short while, and later travelled around Europe playing music.
The employment market in Ireland was grim at the time, and many of her fellow graduates emigrated. Creely did a course in product management, which led to a role in a software start-up, setting her on a path to a career in computing.
Creely always felt she wanted to work for herself and so she and some colleagues decided to go out on their own in 2009. “We started off by actually acquiring a small business called ‘IT Focus’, so we didn’t start from nothing — there was a core competency, a core set of clients and a business already in place, so we didn’t have all of the challenges of setting all of that up.”
The company manages IT infrastructure for firms. “As systems became more complicated, it didn’t make sense for the SME to try to manage these systems for themselves,” she says.
“So the idea of a managed service provider or a partner company is that it could be like your IT department, and manage your infrastructure for you.”
Although they set up the company at the start of the crash, the business prospered. “IT has always been critical to companies — it’s an essential service that they need, and it also allows companies to be more efficient in many cases and to innovate.”
Creely, who employs 62 people, bought a UK businesss in 2014 and is seeking further acquisitions.
“Our business has an opportunity to scale. So, it is probably down to me and the team as to where we want to take it in the long-term, but I would say my work isn’t done yet.”
“We recently made some significant investments around our cloud services and security,” she adds. “So there’s a lot of new opportunity for us in that place, in that space and rather than trying to continuously grow organically, where it’s harder to get the scale, we’re looking at further mergers or acquisitions in the next while, either here or in London.”
Creely believes Ireland has positioned well as tech hub. “We have done a lot of work to promote Ireland as a place for mobile talent to come, and I think that’s proving very successful, because they are coming.
“You’ve got two things — you’ve got the piece where you want the talent to come, but then you also want to attract companies to come to Ireland to set up as well. Whether they’re a startup or perhaps established multinationals, we want more and more of them to come. And I think that Ireland is seen as certainly a very attractive environment in which to set up business.”
She does have some concerns about the international view of Ireland, particularly when tax arrangements make headlines all over the world.
“There’s a danger that perhaps the actual substance of the Irish business model isn’t as fully understood as it could be internationally,” she says.
“It’s really important that we get a message out there that we’re not superficial. I hate when I hear the word ‘tax haven’ used, but it does get used outside this country in relation to describing us, and we have that other awful term of ‘leprechaun economics’.”
She says there is a “very big job to do” in ensuring that message gets out. “We refer to it here in Ibec as this model of substance — that that’s fully understood internationally. That these bigname companies coming here are not coming just because of tax, they’re coming because it is a great place to create a business.”
Creely would like a bit more noise made about successful Irish companies, although she believes Enterprise Ireland and the Government are supportive of Irish firms.
“Some of these Irish companies are selling internationally, they’re selling to large enterprise, so they’re not household names such as Google, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
“There are Irish companies like Openet or Ergo or Clavis Insight (where her husband Ronan works) and they’re not necessarily names that people on the street know about, but these are really successful companies that are growing and scaling here in Ireland, and maybe sometimes we could hear more about the great stories.”
Creely believes that now, more than ever, Irish business needs to be heard at Government level. “I think business in Ireland has a very strong voice through Ibec, because Ibec represents 7,500 businesses, who employ over 70pc of the private sector workforce — that is quite a considerable representation,” she says.
While some may feel that Ibec’s voice is too powerful, Creely points to the UK, where there isn’t a unified voice to bring business views to the top table of government.
“We have seen how in the UK, where they don’t have such a strong representative voice, [there was] the result of the Brexit referendum,” she says.
“Perhaps if business had a stronger, more authoritative voice at the time, some of the rhetoric would have been less in evidence in the run-up to the vote, and more substance would have been at the fore.”