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Academic and industry experts join forces to form ‘At The Pass’ to help hospitality

  • Date: Mon, Dec 19, 2022

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By Chris Towers, Food Story Agency

Image caption (left to right): Leading Irish academics and industry experts, Dr. Noel Murray
(Head of Department for Tourism & Hospitality at Munster Technological University), Dr.
Orla Byrne (Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship at University College Dublin), and Food
Business Coach, Tracie Daly, have collectively formed At The Pass to help guide hospitality
businesses in their hour of need. Photo credit Kirsty Lyons
Spearheaded by Dr Orla Byrne, Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship at UCD College of Business, At The Pass has devised and launched a pair of low-cost online webinars and interactive workshops for January 2023 to professionally guide hospitality business owners countrywide—those that are weighing up their options and facing big decisions, and those who have ceased trading and are figuring out what to do next.

“For a decade, I’ve been researching how business owners navigate tough times,: said Dr. Orla Byrne who commented on behalf of At The Pass’s Steering Committee. “Repeatedly, we see people facing difficult decisions, in isolation, without the necessary support or information. At The Pass is an opportunity to support food & drink business
owners, provide the necessary impartial advice and let them know they’re not alone.”
Byrne is joined on the At The Pass steering committee by Dr. Noel Murray (Head of Department for Tourism & Hospitality at Munster Technological University) and renowned Food Business Coach and former Hospitality Business Owner, Tracie Daly—all three of whom have volunteered their time and expertise pro bono.
The trio have teamed up with specialists in the fields of Career Development, Finance, HR, PR, and Psychotherapy and more, along with easily relatable Irish hospitality heroes including Food Writer & Chef, Domini Kemp, Artisan Food Producer, Maria Flynn (Ballymakenny Farm, Drogheda, Co. Louth) and Food Consultant & Writer, Ali Dunworth.
Collectively, they will deliver two full day online sessions, on Monday 23rd January and Monday 30th January 2023, that will provide an all-inclusive and holistic approach to assist hospitality business owners in making the best decisions possible, for themselves and for their businesses. 
Current Climate

Following two years of continual lockdowns, PUP, social distancing, re-openings, re-modelling, re-training, re-investment, and migrating online, this is an unprecedented time for business owners in the hospitality sector. They are now battling a significant spike in running costs with little to no certainty of where or when it will end. 

As a result, sadly multiple closures have been announced across the industry in recent weeks and months, with the threat of many more to follow in 2023 unless owners are provided with the information they need in order to make an informed decision on the long-term viability of their businesses.
‘At The Pass’ Solution

The At The Pass online sessions have been developed and informed by extensive on-the- ground industry knowledge and experience, as well as by international academic research specific to this area. Their purpose is to provide education, training, and up-to-date tools and support for business owners to equip them in facing these challenges head-on, and for managing the difficult decisions and their outcomes.
They will enable business owners who find themselves at a crossroads to best navigate the uncertain future that the entire industry is faced with and turn their business’s fortunes around. In the worst case scenarios, At The Pass’s expertise will provide them with the much-needed administrative support required to properly deal with and grieve the loss of their businesses and their livelihoods. Business owners will also be ably assisted in planning
for a new career post closure.
At The Pass will run two online sessions that deal with concerns surrounding pre, post, and almost (but not quite) experiences of business closure. The first, an online webinar where users can join anonymously, named ‘Managing Changes & Big Decisions’ will run on Monday 23rd January 2023, with the second, an interactive online workshop called ‘Wrapping Up A Business & Moving On’ taking place the following week on Monday 30th January 2023.
These online sessions are proudly sponsored by Ballymaloe Foods, The Front Room public house, KPP Group (both based in Kilkenny), and PKF O'Connor, Leddy & Holmes amongst others, and have been given the full backing of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, and Chef Network. Bord Bia is also supportive of these sessions and the assistance they will provide to food business owners facing difficult times.

At The Pass Webinar/Workshop Structure  

‘Managing Changes & Big Decisions’ Webinar - Monday 23rd January 2023 (9.15am start)
A one day online webinar (anonymous attendance) for business owners who are struggling and have considered business closure, but wish to remain in business and are looking for ideas and strategies to turn their business around.
· Assist participants in identifying and addressing areas for potential change

· Assist participants in assessing their business including their business model, performance and future directions

· Provide safe and impartial information, suggestions, advice and tools to assist participants in troubleshooting, revising their strategy, and making necessary decisions for them and their business

· Identify sources of support
‘Wrapping Up A Business & Moving On’ Workshop - Monday 30th January 2023 (9.15am start)
A full day interactive workshop for business owners who have already closed their businesses, are dealing with the administrative and emotional aftermath and are trying to figure out what their next opportunities will be.

· Celebrate participants’ businesses and their achievements
· Build resilience & process emotionality
· Provide impartial advice on the processes of closing a business
· Assist participants in figuring out their next career steps
· Assist participants in managing the public narrative around the closure of their
The cost to a business for attending the webinar/workshop most relevant to them and availing of the tailored specialist expertise that At The Pass will expose them to on the day is a nominal €5.00 fee. Business Owners and Managers can book their place online via 

Speaker Bios
Dr. Orla Byrne - Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship at University College Dublin (UCD)
Orla Byrne is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at University College Dublin (UCD) College of Business (comprising Smurfit and Quinn Schools). While she is excited by all aspects of the entrepreneurial process, her specialism is looking into how people behind businesses cope with challenging times and get through adversity, either by remaining in business or indeed closing them down. She is an advocate for greater support for business owners when faced with going through and emerging from business closure and has been involved in international research in this area for over a decade. In 2021 Orla established the all-island network of researchers committed to research and policy advancements in the areas of Entrepreneurial Futures, Failures, Orientations, Resilience & Trajectories (EFFORT), with the goal of researching and promoting the need for greater support in this area. 

Dr. Noel Murray - Head of Department of Tourism & Hospitality at Munster Technological University (MTU)
Noel Murray is Head of Department of Tourism & Hospitality at Munster Technological University (MTU). The Department offers a range of full-time, part-time and apprenticeship programmes aimed at the tourism & hospitality industry. He is the Irish representative on the European Association of Tourism & Hotel Schools (AEHT) and sits on the National Consortium Steering Group (CSG) for Culinary Apprenticeships (at Higher Education). He is Membership Officer of the Irish Academy of Management and co-leads a research team focusing on the Circular Economy for Regenerative Tourism at MTU. Noel has previously worked in management, food business, recruitment, sales, retailing and wholesaling. His research interests include entrepreneurship, marketing, and strategic management.

Tracie Daly - Food Business Coach
Tracie Daly is a passionate award-winning entrepreneur, qualified executive business coach, and chef, who helps hospitality business owners to unlock their full potential -  increasing sales, reducing costs, and improving their operations overall. With a wealth of knowledge and industry experience in the Food and Education sectors, her advice and problem-solving skills are very much based on regular everyday food service and hospitality queries and dilemmas. Having chosen to specialise in working with SME’s in the casual dining space, she designs and executes bespoke food business models and empowers owners to transform their businesses, ensuring long-term sustainable growth. Adept at streamlining operational processes to increase business efficiencies and with an innovative approach to recipe testing and menu development that results in measurable business improvements, working directly with Tracie has already helped many food business owners right across the country to minimise risk.
Declan de Lacy (Partner at Accountancy Firm, PKF O'Connor, Leddy & Holmes Limited)
Declan de Lacy is a partner and leads the firm’s advisory and restructuring department.
Declan assists clients from a broad range of sectors with strategic planning, project
appraisal, and project finance. Declan also advises directors of companies that are
considering winding up due to insolvency or because they have ceased trading. He is
frequently appointed as liquidator by shareholders, creditors, and by the High Court.
Keith Darcy - Business Consultant & Coach, ACMA, QFA, EMCC
Keith Darcy is an experienced Business Advisor, qualified Management Accountant (CIMA), and Qualified Financial Advisor (QFA) with the Institute of Bankers Ireland. 
Having worked for over 20 years in Financial Services, most recently with Ulster Bank as a senior manager in their Business Banking division, Keith has a wealth of knowledge from dealing with all sectors of the SME market.  Over the past 5 years he has advised clients of several Local Enterprise Offices in relation to all matters relating to Financial and Business, ranging from MFI Loan Applications and Grant Applications to General Business advice. 
Linda Breathnach - IACP accredited Counsellor Psychotherapist
Linda Breathnach is a qualified and IACP accredited Counsellor Psychotherapist with 20+ years experience of working with individuals, couples and groups in corporate and therapeutic spaces. Her business, is skilled in presenting and facilitating psychoeducational topics in a non-intimidating, interactive and down-to-earth way that participants can relate to regardless of their profile, profession, personal circumstances or educational background. 

The aim of her Therapy and Training Corporate Workshops is to leave participants feeling energised and empowered about self-care and resilience as we continue to face more unknowns in the future. Linda is also a College Lecturer at Certificate, BSc and MSc levels, and a Professional Supervisor of Therapists. On a personal level, Linda is a married mum of four children and she knows only too well how all the current world challenges can affect us emotionally and psychologically.

Stay up-to-date by following #AtThePass conversation on social media.

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