Sunday 20 October 2019

Taoiseach calls for 'cultural shift' so that entrepreneurs can 'fail forward'

Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the opening of the jet-leasing firm’s new Dublin HQ
Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the opening of the jet-leasing firm’s new Dublin HQ
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Government wants to see a "cultural shift" in how entrepreneurs and enterprise are viewed in the country, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He said that being a business owner is something that people should aspire to. He also said it should be "ok to fail", but that people should "fail forward" and learn from their mistakes.

"Over the next couple of years, in particular, we want to see a cultural shift in how we view entrepreneurs and enterprise in this country," he said yesterday. He was speaking as he officially opened the new global headquarters for aircraft-leasing giant Avolon in Dublin city centre. The firm employs about 250 people.

Avolon was co-founded by Clare-born entrepreneur Domhnál Slattery, and is now the third-largest aircraft lessor in the world. It has a fleet of 890 owned, managed and on-order aircraft.

Last month, a deal was struck that will see Japanese firm Orix buy a 30pc stake in Avolon for almost €2bn. Avolon's ultimate parent firm is Chinese conglomerate HNA.

Mr Varadkar insisted that the Government has introduced measures designed to encourage entrepreneurship. However, many entrepreneurs still believe that not enough has been done to increase the attractiveness of establishing and eventually selling a business in Ireland.

The Taoiseach said that setting up a business "should be something that [children's] parents would want them to do, in the same way they want their kids today to grow up to be lawyers, doctors, engineers or sports people".

"We need to change that culture so we accept that it's ok to fail, so long as you fail forward and learn from those mistakes," he added.

Mr Slattery said the entrepreneurial culture in Ireland "is still nascent".

"In academic institutions, teaching risk-taking and entrepreneurship as a subject matter must be front and centre, but the teaching of that must be done by entrepreneurs, not academics," he said.

Mr Slattery added that a lot of successful Irish technology start-ups "sell out way too early".

Irish Independent

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