Kelly sisters build Glandore one office space at a time
With economic growth predicted to rise in 2018 and an increase in companies setting up and expanding in Ireland, the need for office space will increase. According to IDA Ireland’s 2017 figures, published this week, it secured 237 investments from client firms last year – 111 of them from companies that had not invested in Ireland before. Facilitating these needs is a dynamic Irish company led by three sisters, Glandore.
Glandore is Ireland’s leading flexible workspace provider. Glandore creates space for businesses to grow, housing companies in Ireland in their serviced offices in both Dublin and Belfast. The company provides a range of workplace solutions including coworking, hot-desking, meeting rooms and private office facilities.
It is not only physical space Glandore provides, the company is passionate about building long term connections and relationships and strives to create an environment that encourages, inspires and supports the growth of the companies they house. With member events, perks and wellness programmes, Glandore is a family led business who treats the companies they house like one of their own.
Michael Kelly founded the company in 2001 when he noticed a gap in the market for flexible office space in Dublin.
As Glandore grew so did the team. Over the past number of years Michael’s three daughters, Fiona, Clare and Rebecca joined the business and are now directors of the company. Today the three sisters have a total of 30 years experience between them and have seen the business grow from one employee to nearly 60 employees, and from offering 75 desks to now offering over 1,200 desks in both Dublin and Belfast. Companies that Glandore have provided international headquarters for include Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and Cayan.
The three women flourished in the business. Fiona leads the project management side of things; Clare focuses on business development and marketing, while Rebecca manages sales. This Nollaig na mBan they spoke about how they successfully manage and grow their company together, their attempts to maintain a work-life balance and their thoughts on women in business.
Although many of us may dread the thought of working with our siblings Fiona, Clare and Rebecca flourish in the family-led environment. Clare lists the opportunity and confidence to bring your whole self to work as one of the biggest advantages to working with her sisters. “Being able to bounce ideas off my sisters, however trivial or serious and at any time is such a huge advantage,” she said. Fiona and Rebecca both agree, with Rebecca even going so far as to say having family support while at work is something she now couldn’t do without.
Each sister agrees that they are quite similar but they also have their differences. Fiona believes their differences are reflected in the roles each has taken on, which they have formulated based on their strengths. “This has given each of us a different area of focus which has in turn developed different skills in each of us and different levels of expertise in certain areas,” she said. This has allowed them to add value to the business in their respective areas, which not only benefits their own relationship with each other, but also the business as a whole.
It is clear that with all similarities and differences included the three sisters get along and enjoy each other’s company. Creating an atmosphere of support, care and empathy, they laugh a lot and really look after each other. It is this type of environment they also strive for in Glandore and for the businesses they house. “We are a very affectionate and demonstrative family and this has bled into the team…we believe that if you care for your employees they will care for each other and in turn demonstrate compassion and empathy for your customers,” Clare said.
Gender equality is something else all three women strive for in their business. In Glandore Dublin they have a 50:50 gender balance across their three core functions, Dublin and Belfast workspace and the events and catering team. Fiona states this equal gender balance within the team was a very deliberate management tactic. “We believe that both men and women bring skills in equal measures to the team and it is important to have a balance of both genders for better business health,” she said.
This gender balance is something that is lacking in many other companies. Currently women make up less than 7% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Boardrooms across Ireland are also male dominated according to a study published in the Irish Times. All three women believe that while it is a good time to be a woman in business there is still a lot to be done.
As Rebecca says, “I don’t think there has been a better time to be a woman in business. That said there is still an incredible amount of challenges for women in the workforce. Women are wearing more ‘hats’ than ever before with increasing pressure to have, and do, it all. I think understanding the societal shift that has taken place in recent decades is important so that proper support can be shown to families by governments and employers. A belief shared by both of Rebecca’s sisters, Fiona believes that “companies need to adopt strategies and policies that support both men and women to participate more equally” something Glandore is proud to do for their employees.
As they look forward to 2018 all three women are excited to expand their growing business. They are continually working to develop their restaurant and events venue and will be opening two new locations. No. 24 Fitzwilliam Place and Fitzwilliam Court, this year. Growing their Glandore Business Network in 2018, something that was started in 2017 and was a highlight from the year, is also something they are working towards.
With the success of 2017 and a busy 2018 ahead it can be difficult to see where the three sisters find time to relax and enjoy each other’s company away from the office.
Early on in the business this was something they found difficult. As Fiona remembers they all lived together as well, which she admits made achieving the balance a bit more difficult. Nowadays all three sister make an effort to leave work at work. While Rebecca admits their partners have had to suffer through “what could sometimes turn into a business meeting at a family Sunday lunch” it is something they are trying to stop.
One thing is clear, Fiona, Clare and Rebecca are “sisters first and business partners second”.