Empower people to develop and work to their own devices, but within predefined controls that keeps the company organized.
As Founder and CEO of Delmec, Kealan Delaney has leveraged over 30 years of expertise to grow the telecommunications company from a small, regional operation into a global enterprise serving some of the biggest telecommunications operators and providers in the world. With Kealan at the helm, Delmec provides infrastructure services and solutions to clients across seven continents, helping to build, upgrade, and repair sophisticated towers and networks with 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G capabilities. The company is headquartered in Carlow, Ireland, where Kealan was born and still resides, and has regional offices in the UK, Poland, Spain, Ghana, Tanzania, Malaysia, the Congo, and beyond.
An engineer by training and an entrepreneur at heart, Kealan Delaney sets the strategic direction for Delmec and has pioneered its global expansion, growing it to a company with over 200 employees that has improved the telecommunications faculties of over 20 countries worldwide. In addition to the company’s work throughout Europe and Africa, Kealan has spearheaded an extensive portfolio of projects in developing countries. Kealan prides himself on his ability to grow a committed global team of employees that have built the Delmec brand from the ground up and earned the trust of big-name clients like Vodafone, O2/Telefonica, Hutchison Whampoa, Helios Towers Africa, Vodacom, Edotco, Eaton Towers, American Towers, SBA, Orange, and others.
Prior to his work with Delmec, Kealan Delaney served as a Project Engineer at CRH Roadstone, where he oversaw the construction of the building materials company’s new facilities and factories. He eventually assumed responsibility for the company’s Limerick-based plant, Gooig Paving, overseeing the location’s daily operations, developing its health and safety standards, handling all HR-related matters, as well as assisting in market development and sales efforts.
Kealan Delaney earned a Higher Diploma and Higher level Degree in Engineering with first class honours from the Dublin Institute of Education and the University of Dublin. Later, he completed an MBA from the University of Limerick. In 2010, Kealan began pursuing a post-graduate program at the Telecoms & Tech Academy, and in 2012 he completed Harvard Business School’s prestigious and internationally recognized OPM course. The three-year course is designed for owners, presidents, and managers of businesses, and provides leaders with the entrepreneurial toolkit and leadership insights necessary to drive growth and long-term success. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) and Telecoms Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The Delmec name comes from “DELaney MEChanical” = DEL + MEC. It bears no reference to what we do now. It was a spur of the moment name created in a hurry.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend a lot of time traveling. Usually about 30-40% of my time. While traveling, I like to get as much done as possible. When I am away from the office and other distractions, I can be really productive. I spend a day or 2 in each country and meet as many clients, employees or other stakeholders as possible.
While in the office in Ireland, 2 or 3 days a week are spent working around meetings with the management team and their departments. We have clear weekly schedules, KPIs and objectives which we have set in the company.
The rest of the week is spent with clients, advisors or other stakeholders, and, again, we have clear goals and objectives which we have set for these participants in the business.
Finally I am a stickler for organisation and manage the rest of my time clearing tasks and goals from a diary which I keep with me at all times. In this diary I try to prioritise urgent and important tasks first. This seems to work for me and prioritises my time and keeps me working on important issues.
Wherever I am, I try to start the day (at least 3 days a week) with a 5km or 10km jog. Not too fast, just 27-28 minutes for a 5km but enough to wake me up for the day. I always start before 6am so I can have a nice breakfast and be in the office at 8am.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have a clear and well organised system in the company to transfer ideas from any area of the company right through to implementation. We have 10 year, 3 year and 1 year targets. These are reviewed and managed yearly and quarterly at board-level in the company. Goals and KPIs are set for these that filter right through the company. Some of the ideas that we bring to life are managed through this process. But there are always ideas that come in from elsewhere in the business and some from completely left field, and these can be the really good ideas. These are integrated in the business through an innovation manager who we have recently appointed. Ideas generated in the business are filtered and managed by the innovation manager for maximum effect and value.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The evolution of 5g and telecoms data transmission in general really excites me. Maybe it is because we are at the coal face and can see the implementation and development. We are building, upgrading and maintaining the sites that connect the telecommunications networks. We see more and more connected to these networks. It really is becoming an integrated world and the phrase that “we are in a new industrial revolution” is not an exaggeration.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Jogging in the mornings. I feel so energetic and refreshed coming to work. It’s a great start to the day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You need help. When I was younger, I was very self-reliant and didn’t see the benefit of working as part of a good team. A really good team of people can achieve much more than the sum of their individual parts. It is very important to have that team.
Also, set goals and objectives. When I was younger, I just plodded through life. I was ambitious and hard-working but I wasn’t organised in my objectives and goals. I see now that setting targets and having a clear plan of how to achieve goals really gets you further faster.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People are happier in the developing countries. Life is harder, and in some cases, very hard. But people seem to get on with it and get more pleasure and enjoyment from simpler things, bringing them more enjoyment and happiness. Anywhere you go in the world all people want to do is to have the best for their family.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every morning I list what I need to achieve that day and I work to that list each day. It keeps me continuously busy on the important things.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Empowering people to develop and work to their own devices, but within predefined controls that keeps the company organised. I have only recently fully embraced this strategy, but it does seem to be propelling our business forward.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had loads of failures. I think you need to learn from your failures, try to ensure the risk that failure doesn’t kill you. And once you fail, take on board the lessons you’ve learned and move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Netsuite ERP system. This system has given us the information and the control to scale the business. Obviously as with any ERP system you need to properly implement, we have some great people putting this together for us. When properly implemented, it gives the immediate information globally to allow proper control and management of your business. I think this could work with almost any business if implemented properly. We are using this for 3 years, and I am sure there are some pitfalls to come, but at the moment, I am really impressed.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The book “Traction” by Gino Wickman. I bought this book about 8 years ago. It describes a simple but effective management system for a business that’s easy to implement and brings control to a small expanding company. This was exactly what we needed at that time. We still use a lot of these concepts in the management of the business.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Netsuite as described above.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Traction” by Gino Wickman that I mentioned above.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you want to go fast, travel alone. If you want to go far, travel together.”