Climate Action 101 – Inside the Skillnet Conference Preparing for the Future: Strategies for Building a Resilient Business Toolkit

Category : Ellen Brophy

Set against the backdrop of the history-steeped Mount Congreve, in a majestic room with its ornate wallpaper and ceilings, the Skillnet Conference “Preparing for the Future: Strategies for Building a Resilient Business Toolkit” delivered what was promised to be an informative day. The collaboration between Waterford Chamber Skillnet, County Tipperary Chamber Skillnet, and Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet filled the day with experts in their fields.

The event began with an authoritative opening talk by the Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland, Paul Healy. His powerful message reminded everyone that climate is now a pivotal competitive issue, crucial to the very foundations of how businesses operate in the modern age. Paul also delved into the rapid ascent of Artificial Intelligence namely ChatGPT, in the business domain, underscoring its role in shaping the future trajectory of industries.

Following this insightful introduction was the Susan Hayes Culleton. As the emcee and the second speaker, Susan captivated the audience with her blend of invaluable business tips rooted in her own lived experiences. Her session provided a roadmap for businesses to navigate profitability in an evolving climate-conscious world. Her call to the attendees to take out their phones and comment on a thread on LinkedIn was an innovative way to engage and also a valuable networking opportunity.

Next to take to the stage was our flagship course: Climate Action 101. Presented as a  case study by our own Director of Sustainability,  Dr. Amanda Greer, it exemplified how businesses can effectively address and incorporate climate action strategies.

A testament to the course’s efficacy was the endorsement from Michael Shields and Ann Crowley of Connolly’s Red Mills. This 5th generation business narrated their transformative experience with Climate Action 101, standing not just as users but as ambassadors. Ann and Michael’s insights underscored the course’s increasing demand, as well as its profound impact on the environment and employees alike.

In the panel discussion that ensued, the adaptability and versatility of Climate Action 101 were further explored. Amanda shared how the course is tailored to cater to a wide range of industries, ensuring relevance and resonance for every client, as we have done for Danske Bank, Business in the Community Northern Ireland and The Newpark Hotel. Of course as is the case with everything challenges arise and those tend to be resource based. The conclusion being that this type of climate literacy course is worth putting resources into.

Ray Goggins, with his unique army ranger background, then drew captivating parallels between leadership in military contexts and in business, emphasising the importance  of team spirit and individual accountability. Words like trust, integrity and camaraderie were used. He asked people to think about if these attributes were present in their teams and if not they should be. 

At lunch guests mingled over a delightful meal and this was followed by Níall Ó Murchú introducing grounding and breathing techniques on the lawn. An unexpected Irish rain shower added a touch of amusement as some of us walked inside barefoot. 

Níall’s workshop continued and some brave individuals attempted to walk like elephants in a bid to put the breathing techniques learned to the test. We hope there is no photographic evidence of that adventure.

That concluded the Skillnet portion of the day but the team at Veri Connect seized the opportunity to explore the gardens with some invited guests. We enjoyed a guided tour hosted by estate manager Ray Sinnott. His tales intertwined life, nature, and history, providing a fitting end to a day well spent. 

This conference was not just a presentation of a strategic toolkit; it was a call to action, imploring businesses to not only recognise but also proactively engage with the challenges and  opportunities that climate change and rapid technological advancements present. In a world that’s constantly evolving, it’s paramount for businesses to stay ahead, to innovate, and to adapt. Climate Action 101 stands as a step in this journey, offering guidance, expertise, and a roadmap for this essential transition. The most pressing question isn’t about whether to embark on this  journey, but rather, when will you take that step forward?