Dr  Frank  O  Regan Sidebar

Rigney Dolphin

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“Cleveland Clinic asked if we could solve some problems they were having with their call centre services. We said yes and thankfully they let us. One of the biggest medical institutions in the world trust us to do the job because they knew we would work hard at it and do everything in our power to make it work. And we’ll innovate in the process. That’s the kind of edge we could bring from running call centres in Ireland and is critical. All of us in Ireland today have got to have a better understanding of that edge and we’ve got to present it…”” - Dr Frank Dolphin, Rigney Dolphin

Innovate and Change

Dr Frank Dolphin is Chairman of Rigney Dolphin Ltd, a business services company he founded in Waterford with his wife Adrienne, in 1990. Initially offering strategic change and Human Resources consultancy services to Irish and multinational companies, Rigney Dolphin grew to provide a range of Business Process Outsourcing Services for companies in the public and private sector and today the company employs some 1,200 people in call centres in Derry, Dundalk, Dublin and at the company’s head office in Waterford.

Along with state bodies such as the National Consumer Agency and the Financial Regulator, Rigney Dolphin’s client list reads like a who’s who of Irish and international brand names. Those names include Meteor, Vodafone, UPC, Setanta and Airtricity and when the opportunity to add one of America’s top hospitals to the list came along, Rigney Dolphin rose to the challenge.

“The Cleveland employs 40,000 people. It’s the world leader in cardiology and we’re now providing a nurse triage service for them. When a patient in Cleveland rings into the clinic, they speak to a Cleveland qualified nurse here in Waterford. We can do that as well and as cost effectively here as it’s done in Cleveland.”

Call it as you see it

A native of Birr in the Irish midlands, Frank Dolphin completed a PhD in Psychology at UCD before taking up a position as a clinical research psychologist at the Children’s University Hospital in Dublin and later as a Consulting Psychologist to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Frank returned to the academic world to lecture at Trinity College, Dublin and subsequently at Waterford Regional Technical College, now known as the Waterford Institute of Technology He is refreshingly candid on the subject of what prompted the move to a city which, some twenty years later, he tentatively calls home. And when Frank tells you that coming to Waterford was entirely the result of an improved salary offer, it’s just the first example of a trait in his character which insists on calling things exactly as he sees them. Reflecting on his company’s link with Cleveland Clinic, for instance, he is under no illusions about how the contract was secured.

“The Irish diaspora and Enterprise Ireland were important elements. The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic is proud of his Irish extraction and the head of cardiology training and research is a Sligo man. That leverage helps. But you have to win respect. People are coming here for our skills, not for any romantic sense of Ireland.” - Dr Frank Dolphin, Rigney Dolphin

Why Waterford

Frank is equally candid about the motivation to locate a call centre in Waterford and he is clear that the decision to do so owes nothing to sentiment.

“It didn’t have to be here. I have very few clients in Waterford. The reason we set up here was firstly I was based in the city. Secondly, when I started doing research I discovered that Waterford bucks the national average in terms of population distribution in the 15-25 age category. The population in this age profile is 2% higher in Waterford than elsewhere in the country. I knew that the majority of our workforce would be in the 18-25 category and, quite simply, there are more of them around here. Thirdly, from my experience in the recruitment business, I knew that young people in Waterford had creativity, intuitive knowhow and a capacity for divergent thinking, allied to a genuinely very good work ethic.” 

As a former academic, a successful businessman and not least as a registered psychologist, Frank Dolphin is well qualified to advise on the intricacies of attracting commerce and industry to Waterford but he is the first to admit that the enterprise is not an exact science.

“Sun Life of Canada was coming to Ireland in the late Nineties with 200 jobs and I was part of the team who were trying to win them to Waterford. We were scoring well but we knew they had a decision to make between us and Cork. And it’s funny the simple thing that swung it in the end. The Sun Life guys were staying in a hotel in Dunmore East and one of them admired some prints that were hanging on a wall. The next morning, totally unprompted, the lady who owned the hotel gave them to him on the way out the door. They made a decision that day to set up in Waterford – and they’re still here!”