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Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig’s Top 5 Take Aways from Talent Summit 2018

March 2, 2018


With one week passed since Talent Summit, it seems the buzz from the event is still very much alive in delegates, speakers and organisers. I met the Founder of the Talent Summit, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, and asked him to share some of his key take aways from the event and what he thinks made Talent Summit 2018 such a huge success.




1. The Skills Crisis


Robert opened Talent Summit 2018, with stark findings from the Talent Leaders Pulse Report which highlighted the skills crisis we are facing.

“3 in 4 employers will offer pay rises in order to retain talent”

“1 in 4 hires are a result of poaching”

“The biggest issues facing employers is to retain and attract talent”

Robert admitted that opening a conference with a speech about a skills crisis could be perceived as negative but it left the rest of the day to feed into the topic and answer the question, “what can we do about it?”

The views shared from our speakers and panellists throughout the day was that it’s not all about the acquirement of new talent with the required skills, but upskilling your current workforce. Develop the talent that is already present.

Johnny Campbell, Founder of Social Talent, made a powerful point in his presentation that resonated with a lot of the audience, “This isn’t a war for talent, but a war for skills”.




2. Timing of Attracting Talent


Rob Williams, Director of Employer Insights, Indeed, said that “Great companies use mission, purpose and impact to attract transformational talent” and attracting talent and engaging with new talent all depends on timing and human interaction.

 “You risk losing up to 4% of candidates with every minute you add to your online application process” – Rob Williams, Indeed.

Robert highlighted Williams’ keynote as it had a powerful message, in order to give your company a competitive advantage, you need to engage with talent on time and in meaningful ways.




3. Leadership - Performance Through People


Jim Gavin, Dublin GAA Manager, was invited to Talent Summit to accept the ‘Dermott Costello, Outstanding Leadership Award’. After Jim accepted his award he then joined Robert stage for a discussion about what leadership means to him. Robert was impressed by the comment he made saying, “leadership is a service”. Robert said afterwards, “What a great way to view leadership. When you lead you are essentially servicing those that you lead.” Jim also mentioned that to him “leadership is a contact sport”. You must take action and be physically present and engaging to drive your people.




This is similar in sentiment in how Karen Ní Bhroin Conductor in Training, RTÉ Choirs, Orchestras and Quartets leads an orchestra. 100% of Karen’s attention is at all times on her orchestra and her back is to the audience. Her focus as a leader is on her team and not the customer.

Robert said “Often people are obsessed with customer experience in terms of leadership but I appreciated that Karen said that her focus is on her team, the musicians, who are servicing the customer on her behalf.”




4. Building a Culture of Creativity


During Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote he touched on the skills crisis and the lack of creativity in the workplace. Sir Ken highlighted the importance of a culture that gives us the opportunity to engage in creativity and how creativity should be encouraged in our businesses.

Humans are born with endless capacities but they need to be adapted in order to become abilities.  Sir Ken stated that everyone is creative, they just haven’t learned how to do it yet. He used a clever anecdote about learning to play guitar. We are all born with the capacity to play guitar but we don’t have the ability until we learn to play the instrument. We need to open up our employees to new opportunities to learn and adapt skills and unlock talents they didn’t even know they had.

Robert said “We need to give our employees the opportunity to blossom where they are planted.”




5. Rhythm of Leadership


Anyone who experienced Dr. Peter Lovatt’s performance at Talent Summit will know it was a phenomenal experience. He got the entire room of delegates on their feet to dance and put the rhythm into leadership but what was even more incredible was Dr. Peter Lovatt’s own story. Dr. Lovatt had severe learning difficulties and did not learn how to read until he was 20, applying how he learnt to dance to learning how to read. He then went on to become a professor in psychology and specialise in the psychology of dance. Robert was blown away by his “approach to crafting a career in something that must have felt so out of reach.”

Dr. Lovatt’s research has shown  that dance can help change the way we think. Structured dancing makes you faster at solving convergant problems i.e. where there is one solution to a problem and improvisational dancing improves divergent thinking,  i.e. it makes you more creative for solving problems with multiple solutions.

It may be hard to imagine what the link is between dance and leadership but they both have compatibilities. Leadership is an interpersonal dance – it’s rhythmic, cognitive, emotional and social. As Robert has put it, “the experience dance gives us is the experience we want to give as leaders. The goal is to create an experience for our employees that is motivating and enjoyable just like dancing” and if it helps us to solve problems quicker then all the better.




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