Preparing for Brexit: Maria O’Reilly

Nov 04, 2020
An executive coach, trainer, and mentor with a specialty in logistics and international transportation, Maria O’Reilly has over three decades’ first-hand experience in the logistics industry. Her businesses, Exportability and MOR Consultants, provide consultancy and a suite of training solutions aimed at the Logistics and Exporting sectors. Maria took time out to talk to us about how she has been assisting businesses with their Brexit preparations, particularly in the area of customs and trade with a significant focus on training and the skills to develop to best navigate these changes.

1. How has the direction of your work changed since the onset of Brexit?

Companies are expanding their knowledge around logistics, exporting and supply chain and there has been a growing requirement for training in this area. COVID-19 restrictions have forced training to move online but there are advantages to this in many ways. Online training brings greater accessibility to a wider audience throughout Ireland and beyond.

2. How has your business/organisation prepared for Brexit?

Our preparation as a service provider is to ensure clients have good support in being Brexit-ready, including support with customs processes and export/import procedures. Our main objective is to provide training that helps logistics and exporting businesses, whether on preparing for Brexit or leading through change, self-leadership, resilience. These are highly requested during this time of change and in preparation for moving through changes coming in 2021.

3. What is the biggest Brexit challenge currently facing businesses in your experience?

The uncertainty due to lack of real leadership and ‘yo-yo’ decision-making is difficult for businesses to comprehend, and makes it harder to make adequate preparations for Brexit.

4. What has changed for the better in the profession since you started working as a Logistics and Export professional?

As a professional in the Logistics and Export sectors, a skills shortage, Brexit and COVID disruptions have all moved businesses to invest in development of their people with long- and short-term programmes. These factors are bringing real change into this sector with increased number of employers supporting their employees during these times of change.   

Leadership, building resilience, stress management and change management are seen as critical areas of training right now, along with training in technical skills, with such programmes as the Logistics Associate Apprenticeship at TU Dublin and CIT. 

5. If you were to get to negotiate one aspect of Brexit as chief negotiator, which one would it be? 

That peace remains on this island with the peace process protected.

6. With the added strain of recovery from the pandemic, do you think that the business community on the island of Ireland is ready for Brexit?

Some businesses will decide not to act until closer to the time.  I think this is the case regardless of other disruptions keeping their attention. To recall Y2K, some companies were prepared and others waited to see what would happen at final moments.  I would recommend that companies prepare with the basic requirements over the coming weeks. There is still plenty of time to do the basic preparations.