“Belmullet was the perfect base to ride out the pandemic storm….”

Aoife O’Connor and team

We chat with Aoife O’Connor of Ipsos MRBI about seizing the opportunities presented by COVID-19 to avail of the gteic network!

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and interest shown to the company since we set up in the gteic”

The global pandemic has changed utterly the way in which we work and has led people to rethink their situation and surroundings in order to grasp the opportunities that arise. No more so than Aoife O’Connor, CATI Manager with market research giants Ipsos MRBI, who after many years of working in the bustling cities of Dublin and London, has now moved home to the west of Ireland as a result of a short term enforced move becoming the new normal!

“I grew up in Béal an Mhuirthead in the west Mayo Gaeltacht and like many others after school left for college in Dublin where I studied Hospitality Management. After 10 years working in the hospitality industry between Dublin and London I fell into the world of market research by accident. I’m not going to pretend it was my first choice on the CAO form but since day one I’ve absolutely loved it.”

“Although I had been saving to buy a home in Dublin, the goalposts just seemed to keep moving. Every time you thought you had enough for a deposit, either the prices went up or the banking rules changed. I got to a stage about a year and a half before the pandemic hit where I said to myself ok you know I am at the age now that I’ll be living in a box when I retire, so I decided that I would buy a house down here in Béal an Mhuirthead. I never thought I would get to live in it this soon!”

Aoife has over 10 years research experience as a CATI manager and was responsible for the successful completion of all Ipsos MRBI’s CATI projects in their dedicated CATI call-centre in Blackrock, Dublin. Managing a team of more than 90 staff members and a variety of larger scale jobs as well as monthly CATI tracker jobs. Aoife is also responsible for organising, coordinating and supervising key research programmes, across both B2B and consumer sectors, across Ireland.

Her role in providing constant review of existing processes and devising new strategies to secure a more seamless operation was essential to what was in store.

Ipsos/MRBI employs 18,000 people globally and provide market research services to companies online, through one on one interviews, by mail and through phone calls. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ireland, in March 2020 an eerie silence replaced the normally pulsating HQ of Ipsos MRBI in Blackrock in Dublin lockdowns forced companies to adjust and workers began to work remotely from home.

“I moved back to Béal an Mhuirthead during that time and I was fortunate enough to have bought a house here in 2018 which was a perfect base to ride out the pandemic storm. Over the next few months, I settled into life back in Béal an Mhuirthead a lot easier than I expected! Initially we thought lockdown would last a few months but as time went on, we knew we were in for the long haul, and as a business we needed to adapt.”

“One day in a conversation with Damian Loscher, Ipsos MRBI’s Managing Director, I mentioned the gteic digital hub facility here in Béal an Mhuirthead. I had been in contact with Seán Ó Coisdealbha in Údarás na Gaeltachta and was given the guided tour. It was perfect for our needs, ample office space for interviewers to work with superfast broadband, large conference room with interactive system all set up for Zoom calls and to help facilitate training in of new interviewers. It was decided we would set up a satellite office here in Béal an Mhuirthead and we recruited our first bunch of new recruits in December 2020.”

In February 2021, the establishment of IPSOS/MRBI’s presence in one of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s gteic hubs, gteic@Béal an Mhuirthead in Co. Mayo was formally announced. gteic@Béal an Mhuirthead is a state-of-the-art innovation & digital hub located in Co. Mayo’s Gaeltacht where the unique Gaeltacht culture drives creativity and innovation and offers those who work from the digital hub a great work life balance allowing them to connect to anywhere in the world from the west of Ireland with highspeed internet connectivity while allowing them a slower pace of home life with less traffic and more time at home.

A primary call centre was kitted out in gteic@Béal an Mhuirthead for the company but it is envisaged that future IPSOS employees will be able to use any of the new gteic hubs being developed in the Mayo Gaeltacht at the moment, namely gteic@An Eachléim and gteic@An Corrán Buí, as the company develops and when COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The gteic Gréasán Digiteach na Gaeltachta is a network of 31 innovation & digital hubs being developed by Údarás na Gaeltachta in locations throughout Ireland’s Gaeltacht.

“We spoke further with Údarás na Gaeltachta about our proposed plans and were supported every step of the way. We are delighted to have established a new branch in Béal an Mhuirthead with their assistance and look forward to exploring the many opportunities the gteic network will provide our business in the years ahead. It is fantastic for our staff to have the opportunity to benefit from the wonderful work life balance that the Mayo Gaeltacht has to offer.”

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and interest that has been shown to the company by the local community since we set up here. We always hoped the model we worked by in Dublin would work here in Béal an Mhuirthead and I’m delighted to say it’s surpassed my expectations.”

“Currently we have 19 interviewers based at the gteic@Béal an Mhuirthead office and expanding. I’ve been Telephone Research Unit Manager with Ipsos MRBI since 2014. It’s a multi-faceted role but one of the elements I love most is the social aspect. We have such a large diverse team of interviewers from all walks of life. Students to working parents to career changers looking for something different. I’m forever learning from them… from the joys of TikTok …to the best secret places to visit in Kerry …to being shocked Cavan have won more All Ireland finals than Mayo…who knew?!”

Register for our event on the future of work in Ireland

Join us for a discussion about the Future of Work in Ireland — in association with Gteic & Údarás na Gaeltachta. Join us on Tuesday 29th June at 16.45 for a keynote speech from An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar Varadkar followed by a discussion with industry leaders on how the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Register here.

A network of digital hubs

The gteic network is made up of 31 digital hubs of various sizes located in all Gaeltacht regions, from the very north of Donegal to Cape Clear off the Co. Cork coast. gteic hubs are tailored to suit each unique location, offer high quality office spaces, include hot desk and shared space facilities for remote workers and eworkers in addition to fully equipped office spaces and incubation units with excellent broadband connectivity to facilitate innovation and concept development.

These hubs facilitate people who wish to develop a business concept, grow their start-up and also provide access to Údarás na Gaeltachta’s range of mentoring and business supports.

Find further information on the gteic digital hub network at www.gteic.ie. If you have any queries about any gteic hub or supports available, please email BanM@gteic.ie or eolas@udaras.ie.

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