Reaping the benefits of a culture of nurturing

Gardeners are good at nurturing. I suppose it comes with having a great patience, a desire to believe in the capacity of the fruit and plants they tend, a gut feeling that with the proper conditions, they will deliver. The right amount of photosynthesis, the right amount of care, the right amount of gut feeling.

I have visited the Portershed in Galway on many occasions over the past few years, and it is full of gardeners. Not wellied-up green-fingered types, but people who stand there watching over their patches, waiting to see if they turn to the sun or turn away. If they absorb the rain, or let it destabilize them.

For plants, read start-up businesses, for patches, read slightly more developed projects. Together they all need guidance, from those who drive them and those whom the Portershed employs to create a culture of encouragement.

The Portershed, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, occupies the former Guinness Group Sales office up there in the back yard of the railway station, accessed by the road to the right of the Meyrick Hotel. In there, with the aid of AIB and the Galway Chamber, the buildings were converted into the sort of mock-industrialized workspaces you see in trendy late night legal dramas from the States.

In here, aspiring companies aspire; and perspire as they vie for leg-up in the dog-eat-dog world of business.

I sat in there last year for a half a day or so to do some research for a book I was writing, and was taken by the atmosphere of encouragement, of collaboration, of incentivisation that existed. A mainly quiet building, it reminded me of a college library, but one where the librarians went around and helped you with your study, offered you advice if you need it, put you on the right path.

It was into this atmosphere that Altocloud arrived a few years ago; the brainchild of Barry O'Sullivan and Joe Smyth. In here, it was the biggest fish in the pool, but a fish that encouraged others to try to emulate it. In here, with all the energy of encouragement, it grew and got noticed, and caught the eye of global giant Genesys who acquired it earlier this year.

Recently, Genesys left the Portershed to move to fantastic new headquarters at Woodquay. They had outgrown the Portershed which is in effect a nest from which fledgling and then growing birds will take flight.

Yesterday, Genesys announced 200 new jobs will be created at these headquarters over the next few years. Operating at the cutting edge of Artificial Intelligence technology, they are creating the products that we will all use when accessing services and goods in our everyday lives.

I write of this this week to compliment, not only Barry and Joe and the team at Genesys, but to highlight the nurturing role that the Portershed played in this success; and to mention that it is an ongoing role that will be replicated again and again.

There is a glass wall in the Portershed. Outside sit those who avail of short-term workspace or those projects with just one or a few employees. Inside where Genesys sat is where those outside of the glass want to be.

Altocloud was noticed, not only because of the excellence of its ideas, but because Portershed provided an atmosphere where this could be amplified. 200 new high-tech clean jobs are created in Woodquay, a move that will reinvigorate the area.

Already, there are other big fish looking at the great ideas and innovation in the Portershed and it is only a matter of time before news of other acquisitions and growth is announced. The Portershed itself is also growing and has plans to replicate what it does on a grander scale without losing any of the intimacy for which it is famed and respected.

The 200 jobs announced yesterday are not an accident. They happened because a plan worked. Galway is facing a decade that will shape the next century. By building a culture of encouragement, of empathy, of nurturing into all aspects of lives, we will make where we live and work and study a better place.

Well done Genesys and Portershed for leading the way.

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