Justin J Smal of Clane's Monread CRM honoured as 'thought leader' for Customer Relationship Management software work

National awards

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Justin J Smal of Clane's Monread Zoho honoured as 'thought leader' for work in management software

Justin J Smal receiving an All-Ireland Business Foundation Thought Leader in CRM Software Award at Croke Park from Dr Briga Hynes of UL and Minister of State, Pat Breen

Two Kildare business people are among the first in the country to achieve a new accolade as thought leaders in their industries.

Justin J Smal of Clane-based Monread CRM, a Zoho partner, has been honoured as a thought leader for his work in Customer Relationship Management software.

And Aileen O’Brien of O’Brien PR, Newbridge has been similarly recognised for her work in public relations.

Naas-based N&C Enterprises, which specialises in the aggregates and building products sector has been awarded the coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation – an independently verified standard mark for indigenous businesses, based on rigorous selection criteria.

The awards and accreditation are overseen by the All-Ireland Business Foundation, whose adjudication panel is chaired by Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Kieran Ring, CEO of the Global Institute of Logistics.

Dr Hynes said the accreditation, which is now held by 200 firms, is needed by the thousands of small and medium businesses out there who operate to their own standards, but have nothing to measure them by.

“It provides very important credible and transparent benchmarking that hasn’t been available up to now, allowing companies to very clearly understand where they are versus their competitors,” she said.

“We evaluate a company’s background, trustworthiness and performance, and we speak to customers, employees and vendors.

“We also anonymously approach the company as a customer and report back on the experience.

“The business goes through at least two interviews and is scored on every part of the process against set metrics.

“Internally, this process gives confidence to the organisation, allows them to leverage their advantages and identify areas that they need to improve in, particularly in innovation and product development.”

The All-Ireland Business Foundation will be responsible for identifying and accrediting best-in-class Irish businesses, overseeing both the awards and ongoing accreditation, promoting peer dialogue, in addition to hosting the All-Ireland Business Summit on May 1 and 2 next year.

It will also create an active community of progressive businesses and ambitious business leaders who work together and openly share knowledge.

At a Croke Park presentation event last week, Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen, said the commitment to quality of the small to medium enterprise sector was critical to the Irish economy.

“Ireland has the fastest growing economy in Europe and one of the fastest rates of business start-ups,” said Minister Breen.

“Small to medium enterprises make up 99% of Irish businesses and their importance to the Irish economy can never be understated.

“I am very proud of all the businesses here today, their commitment to quality, as evidenced by gaining coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation, will ensure Irish SMEs continue to grow.”