ROI’s Meet the Team Series is meant to showcase some of our exceptional team members and share in their passion for all things economic development. We also have a little bit of fun to help you get to know the ROI Team more personally.
ROI’s VP of Client Services, Paul Brogan, is the type of person whose endless curiosity and natural charisma made him a perfect candidate for the world of economic development.
What is your role here at ROI?
I am VP, Client Services so that means I’m responsible for the day-to-day management of the operations team here at ROI. I train and mentor the team. I also make sure targets are met and metrics are tracked, but the most important part of my job is ensuring client satisfaction.
We can easily and quickly book dozens of meetings for clients, but are those meetings of any use to the economic development organization (EDO)?
At ROI, we don’t just check a box saying the meetings are booked. We strive to create meaningful and relevant connections between our EDO clients and companies looking to expand.
How did you discover the world of economic development?
My story begins on a cold wet morning in Ireland in 1982. Just kidding, I won’t go back that far. But my story really begins in 2004 when I graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology with a major in International Business and Language.
Part of my curriculum required me to spend a year abroad in Austria, working in logistics. While working in Austria, there was a French farmers’ strike that meant that a BMW factory in Oxford I was working with had to close.
I was fascinated by the far-reaching consequences that cross-border activity could have on regional economies.
That was my first experience with economic development, and it planted the seed for my future career in the field.
What trends are you seeing? What are clients looking for?
Clients are always looking for the same thing—high-value projects that create a lot of well-paying jobs. What’s changed is the marketplace.
Clients often get caught up in the zeitgeist. They are often looking for the next big thing, like IoT, cryptos, and FinTech. Clients read the Economist and think their region needs to get on whatever the new bandwagon is.
But the truth is, there are projects out there in every industry, even in ones that might not be performing well. We are always going to find companies that are investing and growing in sectors that a region currently has, regardless of what’s in vogue in the latest edition of the Economist.
What aspect of working for ROI do you enjoy the most?
For me, I’m naturally intellectually curious. I like to learn stuff—even if its insignificant to my regular life. So, one thing I love about this job is constantly being exposed to experts, of all walks of life.
Since I’m still in the trenches, speaking with clients and companies, that gives me the unique opportunity to speak with experts.
I recently spoke to a CEO of a food manufacturing company. To get 10-15 minutes of their time to ask how it’s going and what’s keeping them up at night is illuminating.
Or, the other day, I spoke to a CEO who works in Fintech. I learned more about Fintech in 10 minutes speaking with him than I have during all my other research on the topic.
What does economic development mean to you?
Economic development to me is anything that a region does to boost the wellbeing of the people who live there. Everything economic developers do is about enriching an economy, which enriches the people who live there.
Forget the shareholders, forget the politicians. Economic development is always about people.
If there was one thing you wish everyone knew about economic development, what would it be?
If there was one thing that I wish everyone knew about economic development, it would be how much work, time, and effort go into it.
When our clients announce a success story, issue a press release, or interview on the news, people don’t realize how much work went into that project.
It can take 3-6 months to get a conversation. It can be another couple of years before ground is even broken on.
There is a mismatch between how hard it is to engage with these companies, and then the level of work that goes into winning them over.
Do you have an inspirational quote you enjoy?
Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose?
What fictional character do you identify with the most and why?
Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs really helped define my view of the world so I’ll choose him.
Cats or dogs?
I have two cats, Pumpkin and Notte so I need to pick cats.
What would be your superhero power?
Coffee or tea?
If you’re Irish, there are only two types of tea. Lyons Tea and Barry’s Tea, and you like one or the other. I am a Lyon’s Tea man.
Toss up between summer and winter. Summer you can go to the pool but I also love Christmas