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IBDG Group Grows 60 Percent Despite Recession


IBDG, the International Business Development Group, has unveiled plans to double in size by Christmas 2010. Staff at the firm’s London office increased by 50 in 2009, and that figure is set to rise by a further 75 by June 2010. In addition, new IBDG offices have opened in Amsterdam and Berlin, with Frankfurt and Oslo set to follow. The plan is then to establish an IBDG presence in Italy.

Founder and CEO Mal Donnelly has an ‘obsession around delivery’ that is clearly shared by his team. Donnelly is an international trade development specialist whose expertise came to great prominence at the time of European ‘open borders’ of the ‘90s. Formerly a foreign direct investment expert with the Irish government, Donnelly’s IBDG corporate story began around 15 years ago when the International Trade Development division of IBDG carved out a major presence for itself enabling Eastern European businesses from Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania , Bosnia – the whole European belt in fact - to establish international trade with the West.

Donnelly noticed that businesses throughout Europe wishing to develop networking opportunities and establish economic relationships were faced with models centred around the ubiquitous conference and exhibition formats that – he explains - had not changed fundamentally since their heyday of the 1960s. The skills and experience present at IBDG offered the ability to invent and develop some fresh methodologies providing what was to prove a much-needed alternative. That methodology was based upon the creation of what IBDG calls ‘special interest groups, formed around particular strategic challenges and each facilitated by a peer. Each group consists of board members only, purely from top 750 companies, thus creating an opportunity for participants to connect, share experiences, network, explore and discuss future strategies around their own personal ‘take’ on the topics of the moment.

It was, as Mr Donnelly recalls, ‘a simple concept that proved to be very complex to deliver, requiring a great deal of effort and investment’. But once created, that ‘simple idea’ grew from a dozen or so meetings involving 80 participants, to what is now a programme linking 850 key participants in the IT industry alone. And it’s a similar story in IBDG’s other specialist fields. What’s more, the sponsor firms that help make these meetings possible are selected by the relevant participating decision makers to take part in 30 minute one-to-one discussions, resulting in new business for the sponsors and carefully selected introductions for the decision makers.

It is the wealth of market intelligence and planning within IBDG that the Business Development division was able to call upon, together with its contacts at the highest levels throughout specialist fields such as IT, HR, Law, Finance and Pensions that enables IBDG to deliver the series of strategy meetings in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. ‘The meetings allow board members from Europe’s top companies a unique opportunity to come together to discuss big issues in a ‘peer group’ manner totally unlike that afforded by any conference platform’ says Mal Donnelly.

Understandably, news of the original meetings soon spread throughout the corporate world and IBDG’s original modest plans soon grew exponentially, patronised by bosses from the world’s top businesses including G4S, eBay, Lloyds TSB, De Beers, ING Direct, O2, Carlsberg, T-Mobile, Prudential, easyJet, Bradford & Bingley, Scottish Power, PayPal, EDF Energy, BNP Paribas, British Airways, BT, Levi Strauss Europe, KPMG, Corus, Aviva, Allen & Overy, ITV, Heinz and Rolls-Royce.

This organic growth has also provided opportunities for specialist staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and age groups to make their mark on IBDG’s expansion, enjoying personal and professional progression and the financial rewards that reflect their contribution to the business.

Contrast those modest beginnings with the fact that 2010 will see IBDG doubling its number of events; and the establishment of new discussion groups in Marketing, Learning and Development, Wealth Management and Sustainable Investment joining IBDG’s established Legal, HR, IT, Finance and Pensions forums resulting in more than 1,000 roundtable discussions already scheduled throughout Europe, on such diverse topics as ‘The Role of the Finance Director in Crisis’, What’s Sexy About Managing Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Risk’, ‘Positioning IT as a Valued Business Partner as well as a Service Provider’

There’s even an IBDG Strategy Meeting entitled: ‘Retaining and Developing Talented Key People’ – a topic about which IBDG clearly knows a thing or two itself! As one staff member wrote upon returning to IBDG having gone elsewhere: “Thanks again for welcoming me back here at IBDG, once again I am really enjoying working here and I am being looked after very well. It’s great to be back in a friendly environment, full of talented people, where one’s success is thoroughly appreciated.”

There’s no complacency at IBDG however: “In terms of what we can achieve, we see our current success as purely the start,” remarks Mal Donnelly.


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 International Trade
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