Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

GO­ING to school in Terenure, Edel Creely’s main af­ter­school in­ter­est was the vi­o­lin. So when it came to choos­ing a univer­sity course, a de­gree in mu­sic stud­ies was high on her agenda. How­ever, Creely — who has just been in­au­gu­rated as pres­i­dent of em­ploy­ers’ body Ibec — was also fas­ci­nated by the ca­reer path her brother had taken in en­gi­neer­ing, which had led him to a role in Aer Lin­gus.

“He was al­ways pulling things apart and he’d have me help, say­ing ‘You hold those pieces and this...’.”

With a nat­u­ral ap­ti­tude for maths and sci­ence, en­gi­neer­ing seemed like a good op­tion. “So that’s how I ended up do­ing my en­gi­neer­ing de­gree, al­though my brother says it’s not fair to blame him,” says Creely with a laugh.

Her de­ci­sion to opt for an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree rather than study­ing mu­sic served her well, even­tu­ally lead­ing her to a ca­reer in tech­nol­ogy. Her day job is that of man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Tril­ogy Tech­nolo­gies, an It-man­aged-ser­vices com­pany that she founded with four other peo­ple in 2009.

Creely takes over the role of Ibec pres­i­dent at a cru­cial time for busi­ness. Brexit is a top con­cern at the mo­ment, as are threats from the EU to Ire­land’s cor­po­rate tax rate. For Creely, the pri­or­ity is to get the Gov­ern­ment to take a long-term ap­proach to the chal­lenges ahead.

“It is cru­cial that we’re not go­ing to be think­ing too much in the short term and we’re not defin­ing what hap­pens in each bud­get as it comes along,” she says.

As an en­tre­pre­neur, Creely is par­tic­u­larly strong on mea­sures which sup­port the indige­nous sec­tor.

“I would call for an im­prove­ment in our cap­i­tal gains tax (CGT) regime for en­trepreneurs,” says Creely.

“As an en­tre­pre­neur — and also from my in­volve­ment through my time with the Ir­ish Soft­ware As­so­ci­a­tion, ad­vo­cat­ing for growth and scale for tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses — I have seen how we need a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment that re­wards en­trepreneur­ship, re­wards peo­ple for tak­ing those risks.

“That en­cour­ages the abil­ity for com­pa­nies to then grow and scale here in Ire­land, rather than go some­where else to do the same thing.”

While the Ir­ish CGT sys­tem for en­trepreneurs sell­ing their busi­nesses has im­proved, the UK sys­tem is far more gen­er­ous.

“They’ve put some very at­trac­tive schemes in place, and we wouldn’t want to see com­pa­nies that could po­ten­tially set up here in Ire­land go and set up in the UK be­cause of a more favourable regime,” she says.

Creely also flags the need for both Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies with op­er­a­tions here to be able to at­tract staff. “Our un­em­ploy­ment rates are down at much bet­ter lev­els than we have seen in a long time. A lot of com­pa­nies are find­ing that they now need to at­tract tal­ent from out­side of Ire­land to come here, and that tal­ent can de­cide to go here or de­cide to go some­where else,” says Creely.

“So if we don’t make sure that we’re re­tain­ing our com­pet­i­tive­ness, the chal­lenges are that those peo­ple may go else­where and there­fore our busi­nesses won’t be able to grow and cre­ate more jobs.”

Like many other em­ploy­ers, she also has con­cerns about the very tight hous­ing mar­ket, with ren­tal ac­com­mo­da­tion a prob­lem for many work­ers trav­el­ling to Ire­land.

“As well as hous­ing be­ing an acute so­cial con­cern, which we are hear­ing about every day, it’s also a prob­lem for busi­nesses, seek­ing to at­tract and re­tain staff. If we’re not look­ing favourable in that space, well, then we may not get the peo­ple to come,” she says.

Creely her­self is a Dublin woman and has spent most of her ca­reer in the city. She grew up in Terenure, where her fa­ther ran a Spar su­per­mar­ket and her mother raised the five chil­dren.

When she started en­gi­neer­ing in Trin­ity aged 17, she was struck by the lack of young women in her class. “I never even thought at the time that it was some­thing that not many fe­males did. I was a bit sur­prised to go in and dis­cover there was about 120 of us and only 12 girls in the class.”

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