Follow the Leader - Brian O'Reilly, of MCE Events


In the latest of our interviews with business leaders about their journey so far and plans for future success, we speak to Brian O’Reilly, MD at Dublin-based MCE Events.

Since it was founded 18 years ago, MCE has organised events and parties for household names including Coca-Cola, United Airlines and Intel. MD Brian O’Reilly has plans to bring his tailor-made experiences to companies both large and small for many years to come.

What’s MCE Events’ elevator pitch?

“We’re a leading entertainment and events services agency and have been in operation since 2000. We’ve positioned ourselves as the go-to supplier for the corporate sector as well as the events industry, specialising in corporate social occasions, family days, teambuilding, conferencing and event marketing. So we’re a one-stop shop for events and entertainment services.”

What was the key motivation and raison d’être behind your business?

“I’d been working as a product engineer for five years and decided to give it up to pursue what I really loved: planning events and entertaining people. I’d been involved in social committees at work and that gave me a little bit of a nudge. I’d also helped to organise events at college and really enjoyed seeing people having a good time – I had a real passion for it. In return, I could see there was good potential to develop a business that would provide that.”

Looking back to the early stages of your business, would you do anything differently in terms of leadership?

“I built the company from the ground up – anyone I’ve brought in has always been supported by revenue we’ve generated through the company, so I probably should have looked for support grants to help with that early on. I suppose everything is a continual learning process. That’s the great thing about this industry – you’re always learning new things and there’s always a lesson to be learned from the decisions you make.”

What motivates you and keeps you engaged to drive the business on?

“It’s my passion. I want to continue to nurture it to a point where it is as successful as it can be. It’s great to have a team behind me that have a similar appetite for seeing the business grow. They’re as keen as I am to create great events – and creativity is a huge factor for us. We receive an enquiry about a particular event that a client wants developed, and we sit down, look at what we can do and what ideas we can bring. After all, our tagline is ‘Inspire, create and deliver’.”

What does achievement and success look like for your business?

“I suppose it’s working with a diverse range of clients who are happy with our services and who come back to us time and time again. For me, success also lies in the fact that we have a core staff base that has been with the company for years; I think that’s a great achievement.

“Longer term, we’re continually working on developing new products that aren’t in the marketplace currently. We’re also looking at improving our communications mechanism for how clients interact with us, as well as enhancing the experience of the services we can give them. Product-wise, some of the new things we’re looking at include virtual reality, i.e. simulators, and bringing back a lot of old childhood experiences with interactive games and arcades.”


“We’ve positioned ourselves as the go-to supplier for the corporate sector as well as the events industry. We’re a one-stop shop for events and entertainment services”


Brian O’Reilly, MD, MCE Events

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“‘You’re not going to achieve anything by waiting for someone else to do it for you.’ Also: ‘Always pay the taxman and the people who work for you.’ This is advice from my dad, Harry, and my late grandad, John, who were both serial entrepreneurs with humble beginnings.”

Did you have a role model or mentor who helped you establish and grow the business?

“As above, and for many other reasons, it would be my dad and grandad. They were fantastic mentors in terms of teaching me how to conduct business, including managing staff and clients successfully, and providing sound and logical corporate and commercial financial advice.”

Businesses often cut back on corporate hospitality and marketing during recessionary periods. How did you adapt your business model to trade through the financial crisis?

“We actually grew by 20%, which was accomplished by adding more value to our events. We listened to our clients in terms of what their changing needs were, looked at their budgets and were able to give them more by using the equipment and resources we had at our disposal.

“I always felt things were better out off the shelf and at an event than us sitting on them doing nothing. Through doing this, other investments could be created and unique products and services could set us apart from our competitors.”

What has been your proudest achievement with MCE Events to date?

“Being the go-to supplier in the industry. We’re recognised as a key company in the industry that our trade partners will turn to.”

Your approach as leader is best described in which three words?

“Diligent, hard-working and conscientious. If I could add a quote, it would be: ‘Get busy living or get busy dying.’”

How are you preparing and planning for Brexit in your business?

“I don’t think it really affects us, so I’m not thinking about it at all. We’re going to keep on developing our products and services line to be ready for whatever comes along. Within my industry, we work with such a diverse range of people and companies that operate in Ireland from all over the globe, so no matter what happens with Brexit, I think it will eventually balance out. Like always with the Irish, we work hard to succeed, whatever comes our way.”

Parting shot: what’s next for MCE Events?

“We’re in the process of changing the face of the company, and that will result in new employment – but I can’t say more than that for now.”

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Comments 1

Tara De Buitlear on Thursday, 19 July 2018 09:45

Nice to read about another indigenous SME who has grown.

Nice to read about another indigenous SME who has grown.
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