The first journey I really paid attention to was at 5 years old.

Like every journey, it started with an announcement way beforehand. We had just gotten out of school and my mother announced that we were going away, but not until August. We were going somewhere exotic, to Cork. Why? Down there I had more grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins than anywhere else in the world. It was foreign, exciting and entertaining. And all I thought about for the 4 weeks leading up to it was the anticipation. I packed my bag as every 5-year-old boy does: teddy bear, a football, some dinky cars, 5 lollipops, twine and anything else a young MacGyver might need. My mother replaced it with socks, underpants and t-shirts.

But how did I learn about journeys? I was anticipating the journey for 4 weeks. And then what? We got into the car, and back then, you put parents in the front and the children in the back, you didn’t need seatbelts because you put four children into the seat that was only made for two people, and they were wedged in.

And then you have the actual driving. We go through Gort, Ennis, Limerick and then onto Croom, Charleville, Buttevant and Mallow. Mallow is about the 100-mile mark on a 126-mile journey, a three-plus hour trip. You get to Mallow and the difficult part is ahead. The excitement is gone, you’re on a plastic seat in the back, in short pants with your legs stuck to the seat, no ventilation, no radio. Somebody wanted a window up and then it went down and went up, and somebody wanted to go for a wee and somebody felt sick. To top it all off there were 147 bends in the next 21 miles.

Between Mallow and Cork there are milestones marking each mile along that road, probably to encourage people around all those bends. And our ambition, once getting to Mallow, was not to get sick on those 147 bends. When you were in the car with no air, going along, going left and going right, going around the bend and up the hill and down again. You were sitting with your hand over mouth, trying to hold it all in. And when you’re five, and it says Cork 5, it’s the best thing in the world. Your father sees it for a couple of hundred yards, and to make sure you’re not going to be sick, he accelerates, he pulls up beside it, the car stops, you get out. The stone is about two and a half feet high, and what do you do? You get up and you stand up on the stone exactly as any five-year-old boy would with a sense of achievement would do; with your arms crossed across your chest. It’s a milestone. My mother’s favourite picture: 5-year-old Felim standing on a stone, arms folded. It was then that I learnt about milestones.

Maybe it was that point learning about milestones that I got into engineering and project management. I suppose I’m still looking at the milestones. When we got into the car again, the anticipation started again. And then the journey, the goal was there to get into Cork. Our final destination

The Journey at ICE

ICE Group are going on a journey this year. Why? Because in March, we decided we would Be Bloody Brilliant, be world-class. We have the goal, the destination in place.

And what does being brilliant mean? After our Smart Day on the 1st of March, I sat down with Margaret and we reviewed all the things that happened, the fun that day, the excitement, the team now working in ICE. And then the challenge was how are we going to be brilliant within the company. I started looking at our vision for 2020.

Then I thought, fundamentally, what are we about? Changing lives.

The people that come in for jobs, the people that come in for training, or do a training course, we change their lives. The people who then get a job, we definitely change their lives.

Then I thought, what’s the most important thing we can do for the most important people in ICE, the employees? They are the most important people for us and for somebody applying for a job, looking for a copy of a pay slip or a P45 and getting it immediately, somebody looking to get onto a training course.

When the phone call goes out from ICE and they pick up their mobile, what do they see?

 091–475100. A significant number.

Our next project, 475100 .So what is it?

We’re going to move to a 4 Day Week, 5 Days Pay and 100% Customer Satisfaction. And the aim is, to have a 100% Better Life from that.

At the end of the day, we’re in tough jobs, we’re very productive, and we change lives. And I think this will change our lives fundamentally. We’ve had a number of long weekends recently, and sometimes on those weekends, I forgot about work. That enthusiasm and refreshment that you bring back on a Monday morning, will only improve things. There’s going to be twists and turns and bends over the next four weeks, until July 1st.

 But life’s better from there on in.

How are we going to make ICE Group brilliant?

Fundamentally, what are we about?

We Change Lives.

We change the lives of the people who get jobs, who complete the course or diploma, who get paid on time every week. We change their lives.

We are now going to change the lives of our employees, the most important people in ICE.

We are introducing 475100 – 4 out of seven days working, 5 days’ pay, 100 % Customer Satisfaction. We want our employees to have 100% Better life.

At our second SMART Day in May, we announced 475100 to our employees. Disbelief spread through the room. Eyebrows skyrocketed, eyes widened and jaws dropped. We continued with the SMART Day focusing on critical thinking, and how we could make the 4 Day Week work for us all.

Follow us on our journey through 475100 at!

Felim McDonnell
CEO, ICE Group