Andrew Connolly: Clearly communicating CME’s company mission and values helps employees understand their impact

  • Photo: CME Group's Andrew Connolly talks to Sync NI

    CME Group's Site Lead Andrew Connolly tells Sync NI why there is “no place like home” and identifies what Belfast stands out for in particular, as well as the importance of diversity when it comes to recruiting talented individuals.

    Andrew also addresses how they still build that all-important team morale, even when working across multiple offices with different time zones.

    What are the key attractions of Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular as a location for establishing a business  


    Northern Ireland, particularly Belfast, offers a strategic location for companies with a global footprint, facilitating a follow-the-sun operational model by bridging the gap between counterparts in Asia and the  

    Moreover, the region has a strong talent pipeline, bolstered by local universities actively engaging with industry, as well as tailoring courses to meet evolving needs of local businesses. 

    How does Northern Ireland compare to other countries you currently have offices in, and does Belfast stand out for anything in particular? 

    I would of course say there is no place like home! I do see lots of similarities across the various offices I have been fortunate enough to visit, and the one thing I would highlight is the people.   

    Whether it's in Chicago or Singapore, people are welcoming and keen to help. If you really pushed me, I would say Belfast is renowned for being able to identify areas of friction and work these through to resolution in a collaborative manner. 

    When working across multiple locations, with different time zones, how do you build team morale and that all-important company ethos? 

    When managing teams spread across different time zones, nurturing team morale and fostering a common company culture becomes paramount. To achieve this, I prioritise video calls over voice calls to promote face to face interaction, enhance communication and build connection despite the geographic distances. 

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    Implementing global mentorship programmes encourages knowledge sharing and cross-cultural understanding among employees from various locations, too. Facilitating occasional travel opportunities between offices strengthens relationships and promotes in-person collaboration.  

    Finally, supporting employee resource groups focused on activities such as global cookery classes and yoga sessions fosters camaraderie and well-being across the company, thereby reinforcing the ethos of collaboration and inclusivity across borders. 

    As a business, what strategies are crucial in attracting andretaining top level talent? 

    To attract and retain top-level talent, one thing businesses should consider creating is an inclusive culture that supports diversity. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are an excellent way to do this and to ensure everyone feels valued.  

    Offering competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits is also crucial, along with providing continuous training, clear career paths, and flexible work arrangements to promote a work-life balance. Finally, encouraging innovation and recognising creative contribution fosters a dynamic work environment. Leveraging the latest technology and continuously improving the tech stack also enhances productivity and the attraction to an employer.  

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    Clearly communicating the company's mission and values helps employees understand their impact. You can also build a strong employer brand through positive workplace practices and social media presence, alongside offering mentorship and leadership development programs, further solidifying a company’s appeal to top talent." 

    How do you ensure diversity and inclusion in the workplace as well as embracing different cultures? 

    At the CME Group, we recognise that diversity and inclusion are fundamental to building a cohesive and inclusive culture. To ensure these values are deeply embedded in our workplace, we have established a comprehensive approach. For example, we have 11 ERGs that connect colleagues with shared backgrounds and interests, fostering a global network of support and collaboration.  

    These groups play a pivotal role in promoting cultural awareness and providing a platform for underrepresented voices. We celebrate various cultural events and heritage months, encouraging employees to share their traditions and experiences. This practice not only educates but also fosters a respect and appreciation for different cultures. 

    We are also committed to recruiting a diverse workforce by partnering with diverse job boards, attending career fairs aimed at underrepresented groups, and continuing to follow unbiased hiring processes. Our policies are designed to promote inclusivity, and we provide regular training on diversity and equality. 

    Have there been any specific examples of positive experiences from establishing a business in Belfast that you have been able to implement in other locations? 

    Establishing a business in Belfast has yielded valuable experiences that have been effectively replicated in other locations by CME Group.  

    For example, Belfast’s collaboration with our Bangalore office has enabled the implementation of the follow the sun model, ensuring seamless global support and service delivery.  

    Additionally, the maturity and capabilities demonstrated by our Belfast team have led to the global ownership of services rather than only regional oversight. The collaborative culture and successful talent development strategies in Belfast have served as models for other offices, fostering innovation and attraction of more top talent.  

    Moreover, our positive engagement with the local community in Belfast has inspired similar efforts globally, enhancing our corporate social responsibility profile. 

    What support did you receive as a company setting up in Northern Ireland? How vital was this for you as a company? 

    As a company setting up in NI, we initially received support from InvestNI, which was instrumental in facilitating our entry into the region.  

    “The most significant and enduring support came from the community and collaborative ecosystem within Belfast, particularly across the FinTech sector.  

    Regular roundtable sessions and engagement with like-minded companies have proven invaluable over the years. This collaborative environment has enabled us to address common challenges, share best practices, and foster innovation collectively. Whether collaborating on proposed university courses to address specific gaps or working together on Environmental, Social and governance (ESG) initiatives, the network has been indispensable in our journey.  

    This support has been vital for our company’s growth and success in Northern Ireland, underscoring the importance of a strong ecosystem and collaborative partnership in fostering business development and innovation. 

    Would you like to see any further initiatives or programmes that would help to further support FDI businesses who have established an office in Northern Ireland? 

    Absolutely, further initiatives and programs to support Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) business in Northern Ireland would be highly beneficial. One such initiative could be aimed at enticing Northern Ireland expats to return home, bringing with them valuable skills and knowledge acquired abroad.  

    This initiative could offer incentives and support packages to encourage expats to return and contribute to the local economy. Additionally, funded exchange programs for local talent to gain international experience could be implemented. These programs could provide opportunities for employees to work or study abroad, fostering a global mindset and bringing new insights and perspectives back to Northern Ireland. 

    Are there any other initiatives or programmes you would like to see for FDI companies established in Northern Ireland?      

    Any programmes aimed at increasing skills among local staff members would be valuable. This could involve partnerships with local educational institutions or training programs to offer specialised courses or certifications relevant to the company's industry. By investing in the skills development of local talent, FDI companies not only enhance the capabilities of their workforce but also contribute to the overall growth and competitiveness of the local skills pool.  

    Additionally, offering opportunities for career advancement and skill-building can improve employee retention and satisfaction rates, ultimately benefiting both the company and the community - a win-win scenario for FDI companies and Northern Ireland alike. 

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