Kelly sisters create a space for companies to land and expand in Belfast, one office space at a time
The article was originally published in Women in Business NI’s winter 2018 issue.
The way that modern businesses work is changing – and Belfast is embracing that change. With economic growth predicted to rise in 2018 and an increase in companies setting up and expanding in Belfast, the need for office space will increase. Facilitating these needs is the dynamic Irish company Glandore, led by three sisters and their father.
On Arthur Street in Belfast, Glandore’s Arthur House and Arthur Place serviced offices and coworking spaces can accommodate up to 600 people. These two family-run buildings offer fast-growing companies peace of mind that their space requirements can all be accommodated with maximum scalability and flexibility.
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. Operating in Belfast since 2006, in that time Michael Kelly says he’s seen gradual growth year-on-year. Even when the downturn hit the city it was able to keep moving forward.
“Belfast has so much going for it. It’s always had to fight hard for what it has. The work of Invest NI in attracting companies has been immense in recent years.” he said.
“The costs of doing business in Belfast are considerably lower than in the likes of London and businesses are waking up to that in the wake of Brexit.”
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. Fiona leads the project management side of things; Clare focuses on business development and marketing, while Rebecca manages sales.
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.
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, 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.
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 will be rapidly expanding their team, community, coworking and event space in Belfast. Growing their Glandore Business Network in Belfast in 2018, something that was started in 2017 and was a highlight from the year, is also something they are working towards.
With 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. Nowadays all three sisters make an effort to leave work at work. One thing is clear, Fiona, Clare and Rebecca are “sisters first and business partners second”.