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Aon Ireland’s new CEO on the importance of resilience

‘Resilience allows companies to adapt quickly to change and to maintain business operations, while creating a workplace where people thrive’, said Rachael Ingle, Aon Ireland’s new CEO.

As someone who has recently been appointed CEO of Aon Ireland, the Irish branch of the multinational professional services and insurance giant, Rachael Ingle is at the top of her game.

The Dubliner has worked with the company since 1998 and was appointed to lead it in March. She has had a number of different roles throughout her time working for Aon, and it’s no surprise she has learned a lot.

Future Human

Ingle spoke to about her career path so far and why she thinks it’s important to stay agile, resilient and future-focused in the business she’s in.

Ingle’s timing to take the top job at Aon Ireland has come at a challenging time, post-pandemic ­– a fact she is well aware of. She is tasked with leading the company out of the storm generated by Covid-19. Aon has been in Ireland for more than 100 years, but Ingle has her eyes on the future for both the company and its clients.

‘From assessing the programmes already in place and boosting performance through employee health and benefit programmes, to building bespoke solutions that provide for a secure retirement, our team at Aon Ireland are making sure business leaders have the tools and solutions to build a more resilient and inclusive workforce’ – RACHAEL INGLE

“For me, navigating the pandemic really solidified the need to keep a firm eye on the future and not to be solely focused on short term challenges,” she said.

“One of the most important things I’ve learnt at Aon is the vital importance of agility and the need to continually embrace change. Standing still can be risky for any business or leader. Our business has been continually evolving over the decades to meet the changing needs of organisations and their people.”

Ingle has had a hand in Aon’s development over the years, having previously served as joint managing director of Aon Hewitt Ireland which involved bringing together the two organisations under Aon’s branding.

“Bringing together the Aon and Hewitt businesses demonstrated to me the need to lead with conviction and to gain the buy-in of employees. Keeping focused on the vision for the combined organisation and encouraging each team members to play a key role in transforming the business helped to drive growth throughout a changing time,” she said.

It looks as if Ingle will use some of what she learned back then to guide her through her current challenge. And she is keen to impart her wisdom – and the importance of resilience – to her colleagues.

Over the past 12-18 months, Aon has been championing the theme of ‘Rising Resilience’ globally, according to Ingle.

“We strongly believe that resilient businesses and workforces are sources of security and purpose in an uncertain world. Resilience allows companies to adapt quickly to change and to maintain business operations, while creating a workplace where people thrive.”

In Ireland, Aon has been working with many of the country’s leading employers to “help build resilient workforces that are prepared to withstand today’s volatility and future disruptions.”

Those disruptions, as we all know, include the climate crisis, political instability, changing consumer demands and talent shortages. At Future Human 2022, Aon’s global lead, Eric Andersen, told the audience about his own optimism for the frightening future we all face.

So, what does resilience mean to Ingle? “Resilience requires visionary leadership, a continuous dialogue with your workforce, and a well-rounded programme of wellbeing that supports diverse needs.”

“From assessing the programmes already in place and boosting performance through employee health and benefit programmes, to building bespoke solutions that provide for a secure retirement, our team at Aon Ireland are making sure business leaders have the tools and solutions to build a more resilient and inclusive workforce.”

That last point on inclusion is clearly important to Ingle. She is a member of Aon’s Global Inclusive Leadership Council, which provides advice, recommendations and accountability for the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. It was founded in 2020.

‘You need to be open to learning new things – a career is a journey. Although some core leadership principles tend to stay the same, client needs and the optimum ways in which to engage and motivate your teams are always changing’ – RACHAEL INGLE

Throughout her career, Ingle has been inspired by women role models, from her own mother, Ann Ingle, who wrote a book of essays about her life aged 82 in the middle of the pandemic, to Microsoft Ireland’s former MD, Cathriona Hallahan.

“Cathriona is a great role model for women in Irish business, having worked her way up within Microsoft over the course of some 30 years to lead one of the biggest multinational tech corporations in Ireland. Although more a role model than a mentor, she’s someone I’ve always admired and looked up to in my career to date,” Ingle said.

The Dubliner is now leading a team around 700 workers in Ireland, not so much following in her role model’s footsteps as carving out her own path.

But Ingle emphasises that she is only as good as the people she surrounds herself with and learns from. As a leader, she believes it is important to be self-aware and to keep learning so the business does not go stale.

“You need to be open to learning new things – a career is a journey. Although some core leadership principles tend to stay the same, client needs and the optimum ways in which to engage and motivate your teams are always changing.

“Therefore, you have to possess the self-awareness to know when an old habit needs to evolve, whether you need to upskill in a certain area or get advice from someone else on the team. As a leader, it’s important to keep learning but you can’t know everything and that’s why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people, who are talented, hard-working and passionate about their roles.”

Ingle concluded the chat saying that it was important to recognise the strengths of each individual team member to give them the support that they need to carry out their best work.

“Sometimes, this involves creating a safe space to take risks, secure in the knowledge that without risk there can be no innovation and innovation is what drives a company and people forward.”

It’s a fine line between balancing employees’ interests and the future growth of the well-established company that employs them, but Ingle seems to be resilient enough to take on the task.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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