AIB announced the five-year extension of its partnership with the GAA this week. It is one of the longest, largest and most effective partnerships between sport and business in Ireland.
It has delivered at a higher level again over the past three years as the emphasis crossed over between club and county, grassroots to elite and the Club Championships at grounds across the 32 counties to the All Ireland Football Championship at Croke Park in September.
A central part of the promotion of the bank has come through focus on the players and the individuals.
Paul Flynn’s, Aidan O’Shea’s and James O’Donoghue’s transformation from club colours to the county have formed that base of imaginative and creative advertising and there was a major emphasis at this week’s launch on using players and individuals that work for the bank as well.
O’Donoghue from Kerry, alongside Colm Cooper, James McCarthy in Dublin and Mayo manager Steven Rochford were all at the launch and ‘doing’ media to spread the word about this year’s partnership.
They are all part of an AIB Ambassador Programme headed up by former Dublin star Coman Goggins who has himself worked in the bank since 2002.
“Every employer is looking at holding on to good people and we are very conscious of giving people who have a major commitment to sport the opportunity to maintain a solid career path as well,” he told us in conversation overlooking the Croke Park pitch.
“The demands on an intercounty player these days are immense and we try to understand that and accommodate this important part of their lives for as long as it lasts.”
“We help to get people into the right position so that they can marry their training and recovery from sport with the need to develop in their career with the bank.”
“By planning that out in advance we can assist in making sure that when the time comes when football, hurling or camogie are taking up less of their time that they have not fallen behind in terms of the role they will have after hanging up their boots.”
“We work towards creating an arrangement at local level which works best for all.”
“As an example if you had an inter-county player who was working with the Bank in Dublin we might facilitate their working out of a local office on a Monday and Friday so they can train on a Thursday, play on a Sunday and still be effective employees but without the need to travel three or four hours to do that.”
“It’s about understanding the commitment on both sides and working towards the best solution.”
“Steven Rochford looks after our homes business in Mayo, keeping up to speed on new developments, shifts in the market that will help us prepare for our mortgage business to be responsive.”
“For a guy like him who is connected through sport as Manager of the County team, he is known and connected in ways that would give a real advantage in terms of shared knowledge and his being a well known face.”
“Colm Cooper has a business development role down in Kerry. From AIB’s perspective its all about getting the right guys in the right place and plugging into their communities.”
“There is leverage for our business but also for their career and it’s about getting the right fit for each individual.”
“That’s why we chose to look at it from my role in some ways as a mentor on both sides, helping to find that right fit and creating the best environment for an individual to thrive in both these important aspects of their lives.”
“The first element of recruitment is always about how good a fit that person is for the business. We look at what people can deliver for the business as opposed to what they do in a sporting arena but often the latter can help the former.”
“Every business unit is a team and the lessons learned from sport in terms of resilience, leadership and communication can deliver big wins for the business as well.”
“GAA within the bank is important at external as well as internal level. We ran a blitz earlier this year and we had 30 teams involved. We are getting back involved in business leagues again and our Ladies Football team won the Interfirm blitz that was held in Portmarnock last weekend as well.”
“My role is helping to connect the way we work as a bank with how we can benefit the communities that are the GAA. That involves working with the players, helping to see where we can work within schools, clubs and elsewhere.”
“It’s a very strong commitment we have and that runs throughout the bank.”
There is always a real sense of enthusiasm at an AIB launch, helped no doubt by the multiple awards the team have won over recent years, but also feeding into the preparation for winning those awards. Having the workforce on board is an important part of that. Building an environment as well where the work they do from 9-5 is there after the sporting glory days have come to an end is of equal importance.